Zum Fisch Kare

Urtal-Peterskirchen, Germany

My absolute favorite memories from Germany are from bringing people to see this childhood stomping ground of mine, the Fisch Kare.  The drive there is all back roads, lefts and rights in the middle of farmlands that have few points of reference, so it gives the sense of passing through a veil into another reality. The last turn takes you down a steep, dirt path into a forested area, and that’s when you know, this is a different kind of restaurant.  The going is slow due to all the tree roots, and sometimes, if a car is coming out, you have to back up almost all the way out or to a layby to let them pass.  At this point, a wooden hut, straight out of a Grimm’s fairy tale peeks out of the woods.

Parking is a gravely space which leads to a path to the hut. Sounds of water gushing can be heard, which on inspection is coming from a water wheel and pond where large, overfed trout are swimming.  At the front door, there’s an old fashioned water pump that contains eons of dried leaves and the smell of wood smoke is now pretty strong.

When you open the old wooden front door, the smoke pelts you in the face, and then you see the trout, on wooden stakes, roasting in an open wood burning stove.  People are drinking beer, eating onion bread, waiting with watering mouths for the main course, the only thing on the menu, deliciously seasoned whole fatty trout.

Seating is ‘every man for himself’, and the benches are almost always shared between different parties.  When the waitress comes, there are only three decisions to make:

  • What will you drink, beer, soda, or water?
  • Do you want an onion bread to keep your mouth busy while you wait?
  • What size fish do you want, small or large?

When the fish comes, it is wrapped in plain brown paper, and you are given two wooden pronged sticks to eat with.  A small dinner roll comes with it, which you’ll appreciate at the end.  Now, the art of eating this fish has been mastered by many who come here and begins with how to separate the fillets perfectly and removing the bones in one go. If you can do this, you are the king at the table and all will marvel at your skill. The fish is packed with seasoning and probably butter.  The recipe is a family secret, so I have no idea what’s in it.  But, it is wonderful!

Let’s talk skin.  The skin is usually not something you eat, or think about eating, but this fish skin is the tastiest!  You must eat it together with a little meat or bread.  I’ve often joked when ordering that I want a large fish with double skin. They’ve sadly never produced one to date.

Lastly, the fat is what’s left over at the end.  Now, that dinner roll comes into play, and using it like a sponge to get every last fatty drop off that paper is required to get that overstuffed feeling at the end.

A complimentary liquor rounds out the experience, which is a nice way to cut that fatty feeling you’ll have at this point, and their way to say thank-you for journeying to our humble restaurant.

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