After Hours: Aspendos in Stuttgart, Germany
October 8, 2010
Though it is known as the land famous for bratwurst and schnitzel, one can't help but feel that Germany's real national food has nothing to do with either.
Indeed, on street corners from Baumholder and Bamberg to Schweinfurt and Stuttgart, it is the ever-present doner shop that is the first stop for many a civilian and servicemember stationed in Germany. It doesn't take long to develop a discriminating tongue, or to pick out your favorite neighborhood kebab stand and swear loyalty to it. The greasy Turkish treat quickly becomes a staple for everything from late-night munchies to a quick-and-easy workday lunch.
But while flipping through a Stuttgart restaurant guide one day, I noticed something strange: a Turkish eatery known for something other than doner kebabs. It occurred to me at that moment that just about all I knew of Turkish food was the doner.
So, in an effort to expand my culinary horizons, I set out for Aspendos, a restaurant with a reputation for serving a wide range of tasty dishes. Numerous tava - meals cooked and served in a cast-iron pan - fill the menu. There also are plenty of lamb and chicken platters served with various vegetable mixes and topped with typical yogurt sauces. And there is a host of interesting starters that feature yogurt dips in a variety of flavors accompanied by vegetables and meats.
But Aspendos is probably best known for what it does on the grill. I don't know if it is typically Turkish, but what brings the masses to Aspendos is the fresh fish cooked over fire. For about 15 euros, you can have a whole fish - eyes and all - served with a side of potatoes and salad. The most common varieties are dorade, a tasty fish common in the Mediterranean Sea, and wolfsbarsch, a European sea bass.
I had the dorade, which was nicely seasoned and cooked to perfection.
On a second visit for lunch I had something off the Mittagskarte, or lunch menu. Sadly, there wasn't anything Turkish about it. Rinderbraten with fried potatoes. Delicious, but not really a reason to make a special trip.
Still, my dining partner wasn't disappointed. "The meal itself was outstanding. But I would have preferred bigger portions. The sauce was so good I was soaking it up with my bread," he said. "I plan to go back."
But if you decide to go, I suggest you make it for dinner and try something cooked on the grill.
As my dining partner observed, "It's a great place to bring a date."
Location: Neckarstrasse 98, Stuttgart, Germany.
Directions: Travel to the heart of downtown Stuttgart, across from the city's main ADAC building.
Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday for lunch, 5:30 p.m. to midnight Monday through Saturday for dinner. Closed Sunday.
Food: Mainly Turkish; lunch menu has different daily specials, some of which sound more German than Turkish.
English menu: Yes.
Prices: Dishes on the lunch menu are about 8 euros; dinner menu is between 10 and 15 euros, with appetizers and soup in the 4 to 8 euros range.
Clientele: Germans and other locals.