Fuel for the long haul: Former truck stop near Darmstadt hides hearty, sophisticated fare

Red beet carpaccio with wasabi and roasted scallops is a delicious starter at Hotel Monika's restaurant in Buettelborn, Germany.


By MICHAEL ABRAMS | Stars and Stripes | Published: December 26, 2019

Those of you who commute from Wiesbaden to the Dagger Complex in Darmstadt every day may have noticed the fuel station soon after leaving the autobahn at Buettelborn. What you might not have seen is the fueling station of a different kind behind it.

The restaurant in Hotel Monika has been serving travelers and locals for decades. If its outside reminds you of a truck stop, that’s because that’s what it was. For years, truckers would pull over for the hearty German food served inside.

The buildings were expanded over time to become a full-fledged hotel, and the restaurant modernized and enlarged. Although the same family still runs the place, the cuisine served at the Monika has been raised a culinary notch or two. It’s still German food, but with sophisticated twists.

The menu offers starters, main courses of fish, fowl and meat, plus seasonal selections — goose, this time of year — and homemade desserts. The beverage menu, including an extensive wine list, seemingly weighs more than a plate of food.

For starters, I tried the red beet carpaccio with wasabi and roasted scallops. The dressing on the beets was light and tangy, the scallops cooked to perfection for my taste — crispy top and bottom, and juicy in the middle. Only the wasabi could have been spicier.

My dining companion tried the goose consomme with pumpkin and chestnut ravioli from the seasonal menu.

For the main course, she ordered a classic German game dish, Hirschragout (venison stew), with chanterelles and homemade spaetzle. The meat was a little dry, but the sauce with the chanterelles was hearty and delicious, and the spaetzle were a picture of perfection.

I tried the roasted pike-perch fillet with ceps risotto in a Riesling wine sauce. Also delicious.

Like the scallops, the skin was roasted crisp while the fish itself was moist. The risotto was creamy, and the mushrooms kept their texture. For my taste buds, a perfect dish.

Among the other choices on the menu were veal schnitzel with fries, stuffed breast of guinea-fowl with champagne sauerkraut, or salmon and scallops with two styles of cauliflower and green asparagus, for example.

One thing missing here are vegetarian choices. The only thing on the menu is ceps risotto with braised tomatoes and grated cheese.

While my companion passed on dessert, I tried what they call “Our Little One,” a small jar of homemade chocolate sherbet with crumble and topped with a honey pastry. It was a perfect way to end a perfect meal.

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Location: Im Mehlsee 1-5, 64572 Buettelborn. Just off autobahn A67 between Wiesbaden and Darmstadt at the Buettelborn exit.

Hours: Noon to 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday; 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sundays. Closed on Saturday.

Prices: Upper reaches of moderate. Starters $7.80 to $12.50; entrees $19 to 31.50; desserts $9.50 to $10.

English menu: Yes

Information: The website, in German, is hotelmonika.de/restaurant-und-bar/restaurant. A site in English is under construction. Reservations are recommended.

Inside the restaurant at Hotel Monika in Buettelborn, Germany.

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