Blood, Meat and Beer in a German Culinary Institution

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Where to Eat in Germany

German Culinary Institutions part II, and today, we’ll take you one notch up to a proper restaurant. (No offence, Profi-Grill, I still love you.) This one is a few kilometres down south from Wattenscheid to Cologne, hub for many a trip to hiking trails in Western Germany.

German Culinary Institution of Päffgen

is a brewery, and, as every visitor to Germany knows (or should know), brewery-restaurants are as sure a guarantee for good food as any you are likely to get.

"Front of Päffgen Hausbrauerei in Cologne Germany"

But this is where the parallel ends. Big breweries generally operate their bijou restaurants as hobby horses on their PR accounts and for the sole reason that those wooden beams and big-busted Teutonic waitresses look good in some in-flight magazine ad.

Päffgen is different: the restaurant is not the front for a billion Euro operation in the hands of a multinational conglomerate but pretty much all there is.

"Two glasses of very cold Paeffgen Kölsch"

Päffgen, you see, is one of the last survivors of that threatened species, the authentic German micro brewery: they produce their beer in an adjacent building – behind the walls on the far side of their beer garden – and conduct no export business. None at all.

Actually, they do not even ship their beer out of Cologne to other German towns, largely because the variety they brew – the light, fruity and top-fermented “Kölsch” – does not take very well to bottling. One large multinational conglomerate in Germany had its hands badly burnt a few years ago when they tried to prove the contrary.

"Small barrels of beer on the counter at the German culinary institution of Päffgen Brewery in Cologne Germany"

Päffgen themselves do not sell bottles, only small barrels.

Their Kölsch is the quintessential Kneipenbier: if you want to drink it, you must come to the pub. It’s as though they were doing business in the 19th century.

And since the pub-restaurant is all there is, it is also the place where all of Päffgen’s profits must come from. A good thing then, you might say, that a whopping 90 percent of all visitors also order something from the kitchen.

"A plate of Rheinischer Sauerbraten with potato dumplings in a German culinary institution in Cologne"

The menu offers them a variety of regional dishes. Päffgen make it a point to serve unpretentious food of the highest quality. We had the “Rheinischer Sauerbraten”, marinated beef with potato dumplings, and the “Blutwurst”, black pudding (blood sausage), also the key ingredient in the dish called, in the local dialect, “Himmel un Äd”, one of the house specialties.

"A plate of Paeffgen's fried Blutwurst"

Both were excellent and clocked in, together with a couple of beers to wash it all down, at under €30 for two. Never in the history of gastronomy was so little owed for so much.

Do not make the mistake of missing it when you are anywhere near Cologne.

You can reach this German culinary institution (address: Friesenstraße 64-66) on foot from Cologne central station (a 15 minute walk: left out of the station, turn right before the Cathedral and straight on until you are there) or take the subway to Friesenplatz (it’s for free if you travel on a Länderticket). The pub-restaurant is open 7/7 from 10 am to midnight.

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18 comments to Blood, Meat and Beer in a German Culinary Institution

  • We’d go back in a heartbeat to Päffgen, Emma. Thanks for the tip about the Japanese. But frankly, if I want good Japanese, there’s a very good one in Paris which I know is serving authentic dishes because Japanese tourists flock there.

  • Emma Tameside

    “big-busted Teutonic waitresses ” I had this image of Tuetonic knights with blonde, frauen hair buns! Anyway, we did get to visit Päffgen last year and loved it. I couldn’t remember the name until I saw your photo of the door, but it’s definitely the same place if it’s the one on Friesenstraße. We planned to visit the Cologne Christmas markets but I don’t think it’s going to happen this year unfortunately due to our work commitments, but I’m hoping we can book it early for 2013 so it’s in the diary and we can just work around it!

    If I remember rightly, there’s a great Japanese on the same street called Kintaro. That’s worth trying out if you’re still in the area, Michael.

  • I’m basically not a beer drinker. But I do enjoy a glass or two immensely when it’s ice cold on a hot day. At Paeffgen, the beer was exactly what was right to accompany their dishes.

  • I went to Cologne last year for WEBMU and we ended up a night in Gaffel. It was tons of fun. I like the idea that he keeps bringing fresh beer until I say stop. It is amazing I lasted as long that night as I did. For we had been sharing pitchers of the stuff the night before until several AM.

    Freiburg has a microbrewery with its own beer garden. Feierling does an unfiltered pils that tastes really nice in the summer. The restaurant still has the massive copper kettles in the middle.

  • You’ve got me dreaming of a good refreshing Kolsch! I do enjoy Kolsch and would visit Pfaggen when in Cologne. If I close my eyes, I swear I can taste the beef too :)

  • Mouthwateringly delicious my friend! I never knew all that about German micro brews. Thank you for this introduction to the art of German brewing and eating too. ; )

  • When you do return, Lisa, don’t miss this place. So far, this place has been spared the tourist scrum, really the locals’ secret.

  • I can’t wait to get back to Cologne now! Really liked that city. Funny thing is, I LOVE food, but I really liked Kölsch! We have a local micro-brewery here in Chicago now making their own Kölsch.

  • None of it is exported? Wow, that is impressive and almost unheard of these days. And good food? Great stuff, Michael!

  • Looks and sounds delicious (both beer & meals)! Almost a good enough reason to visit Cologne (Köln sounds much more familiar to me, though! :) )

  • Wow…awesome visit. A lot of passion behind those words on the beer:)

  • What a great find and one my husband would totally enjoy. he loves breweries. The food looks great especially the beef and potato dumplings. Blood sausages and my stomach just don’t get along, though. =)

  • Jeremy Branham

    What a flashback to the turn of the 20th century! I had never even heard of Paffgen before but it makes me want to try it when I make it to Cologne. I’ve got nothing against a brewery making a name for themselves and getting their product out around the world. But there’s something honest and inviting about a brewery that really is there to serve the people and their community.

  • I’m not a big fan of Blood Sausage, but the one they have over at Paeffgen was really good, served with fresh apple compote. That’s our tip when you do get back to Cologne.

  • I did miss out on Päffgen when I was in Cologne. I needed this post a year ago! I won’t miss out next time. The food looks wonderful. But I did get to enjoy Kölsch while I was there. Liked!

  • Now this is a post I could really sink my teeth into! Yummy stuff.

  • Italians may not have potato dumplings, but they do have gnocchi and tomato sauce. That would be up my alley too.

  • “marinated beef with potato dumplings” Omg, I want this so much. There’s really nothing like proper meat and gravy here in Italy and I am SO missing it. NOM!

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