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Historischer Ratskeller
Markt 14, Celle

Website: ratskeller-celle.de

The Celle version is a bit plusher than the typical German ratskeller. Here you discover the typical vaulted ceilings, rustic accoutrements, an array of ancient paintings and prints, and rough-hewn tables with white tablecloths and red cloth napkins that have obviously seen a good many washings in their day. The entertainment is provided by an autographed photo of Dustin Hoffman prominently displayed at the entrance. Evidently Mr. Hoffman paid a call once upon a time and obviously enjoyed the comestibles ingested. Oh, well . . . there's simply no accounting for taste. If this bit of dubious advertisement isn't enough to give one pause, the piped in American elevator music is the definitive tip-off that the establishment clearly caters to the tourist trade and locals that don't know any better. Caveat Emptor!

The food, it should be noted, is not horrible in the sense of causing undue peristaltic distress, but it will certainly occupy the very bottom rung of any knowledgeable diner's gastronomic totem pole.

The highlight of the evening proved to be the wine: a 1998 Randersackerer Pfülben Silvaner Kabinett.

Starters included scallops au gratin embellished with spinach and wedding soup sporting a good heady broth. Both create reason for optimism . . . but disappointment is soon to follow.

The mixed seafood platter - Salmon, mussels, snapper, pike and crawfish - presented with a mixed salad and roasted potatoes would not be considered anything more than mundane by any stretch of the imagination. The fried perch-pike, on the other hand, was a complete disaster. Overcooked beyond all recognition, it was then smothered beneath an innocuous tomato sauce awash with slices of black olive. The only redeeming featuring was the accompanying side of spinach noodles.

Desserts hardly distinguish themselves. The apple strudel with vanilla ice cream and a mountain of canned whipped cream is a soggy mess, and the marzipan terrine (with yet more canned whipped cream) is equally forgettable.

Celle is an adorable little town . . . though it would never be accused of being a gastronomic Mecca. But should you find yourself within its precincts in search of physical sustenance, stick to the Hotel Fürstenhof, which, in addition to the one-star Endtenfang noted above, also domiciles two highly recommendable casual eateries.

The Artful Diner
November 2002

The Artful Diner is an independent, freelance food writer.  His latest review and an archive of past reviews for restaurants around the country and the world can be found on this site on the REVIEWS page.

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