Eating out with friends
Five places for a delectable night out with your best buddies
Romantic dinners and award-winning restaurants can make for unforgettable experiences but sometimes an evening out with your closest friends is even better. So today we’re recommending five places that combine top-notch cuisine with great atmosphere. And there’s quite a selection in Cologne, with food from around the world available all over the city.
The candlelight, feel-good cuisine française and full-bodied wines here already create a warm vibe but Hardy Kugel takes things to the next level… Because the biggest room in this restaurant is not just a place for enjoying good food, it’s also used to cultivate another favourite French pastime – boules. There’s a simple pitch where you can have a go at this precision sport as the other guests look on. Adding to this unique experience are exquisite dishes such as lentils with Morteau sausage in a Dijon mustard sauce or boar with wild mushrooms and potato purée. They’re also very proud of their seasonal mussel menu here. A perfect place for an evening with friends in the southern part of the city – and in the warmer months the great atmosphere moves outside to the spacious al fresco dining area in front of the building.
The notion of “sharing is caring” is having something of a boom in the restaurant world and this contemporary-style Greek eatery with its selection of large and small tables is no exception. Traditionally, Greek meze include dishes such as vine leaves stuffed with minced meat and served with a lemon and saffron sauce. Here in the southern part of the city, there’s no beating the lamb filo parcels with herb yoghurt and lime when it comes to mezze. But there are also proper starters and mains if you want to make more of your Mediterranean outing. How about burrata with candied quince, Kalamata olives and pomegranate, for instance? And to wash it all down a glass of wine from the almost exclusively Greek selection, which holds some particularly pleasant surprises.
German nouvelle cuisine plays a key role in the philosophy of this still quite young restaurant on the edge of the Belgian Quarter. Having said that, though the tasteful, minimalist furnishings and carefully chosen music are testimony to a crew that’s quite clear about its ideas, they won’t be pinned down to a specific style of food. The ox cheeks with parsnip purée, for instance, could easily come from the updated German recipe book. The superb harissa cauliflower with quince mousse, however, would seem to indicate someone’s been reading the books of celebrity chef Yotam Ottolenghi. But there’s one thing that the fair prices, the knowledgeably selected, predominantly German wines and the friendly service have in common – they all make for an evening of pure enjoyment. Especially when you spend it sitting at a large table with a group of friends.
+++ Unfortunately, Sonder is closed +++
Lindenstraße 93, 50674 Cologne
Cologne has a lot of Italian restaurants but this veritable institution in Cologne’s Lindenthal district can’t be beaten when it comes to enjoyable dining experience. That’s mainly thanks to head chef Fabio Tiozzo and the fact that he’s always striving to produce not quite so typical treats for his guests. On this culinary quest, he draws on traditions from the most remote parts of Sicily to the mountains of Piedmont. Take, for instance, the mackerel cakes in a savoury tomato sugo or the risotto with beetroot, walnuts and Gorgonzola. The kitchen staff pull out all the stops and, once the most stressful part of their evening is over, the chef himself comes out to ask the guests if everything is to their liking. All the while, the smartly dressed staff add a dash of discreet humour as they keep the glasses filled with Montepulciano or Greco di Tufo. This is true bella vita – especially in the summer when the tables in the wide space in front of the restaurant tempt you to take a seat.
+++ Unfortunately, Da Siro is closed +++
Weyertal 41, 50937 Cologne
Most people tend to think of kimchi and bibimbap when they think of Korean cuisine. And they are both on the menu at Anju but – like all of the other creations at this place – they’re in tapas form. Everything comes in small portions, perfect for sharing and served with rice. As they soak in the casual atmosphere of the place, guests each order two or three “anju”, which is the Korean word for this type of snack. There’s a spicy rice noodle salad, bulgogi (a pork dish) and fried mandu dumplings, to name but a few. With all the variety on offer, a visit to Anju is like a magical culinary mystery tour and even has gorgeous “sights” in the shape of lovingly prepared, beautifully served dishes.
Subbelrather Straße 269, 50825 Cologne