The first week that we had family in town, we didn't make a reservation on a Tuesday night thinking that it wouldn't be a problem to get a table last minute for dinner in Stuttgart. We first tried Schönbuch, then the new brewery, but no luck at 7:00 pm. We hadn't anticipated that every business in Stuttgart would be booking tables in the larger beer halls for their company Christmas parties. Our third choice did the charm, and we sat down at a table for four in the still very busy Ochs'n Willi.
I had been to Ochs'n Willi once before about a week prior. A former coworker of mine was in town for a visit, and a group of us went there after some gluhwein to get out of the cold and continue our visit. I was charmed by the dark, cozy interior which warmed us up right away.
I was told the Schweineshaxe (pork knuckle) is a specialty here, but I didn't much fancy battling with a pork bone on that evening. I compromised and tried the meat off the bone, coated and fried in a mustard breading. The flavor was absolutely delicious -- crispy with light mustard flavor. I knew I wanted to return to try more.
So on this visit with my family we happily returned and were seated right away despite the crowd. Our first order was a round of beer for the table. I decided on the Cluss Kellerpils naturtrüb, a cloudy, "natural" wheat beer. Matt's mom and sister tried the pils, a classic choice for one of their first nights in Germany.
To eat, I decided to try something new, so I ordered the Entenpfännle. My meal came out in an impressive, giant cast-iron pan. The duck was flared around a beautiful Kartoffelrösti, a kind of potato hash brown, and a serving of tiny mushrooms in an herb-cream sauce. The duck was cooked perfectly: tender with a crispy fat edge around the breast meat. The rich mushroom sauce was a great accompaniment, as was the crispy fried potato Rösti, though it was a bit too big for me to finish on my own.
Matt also got a Kartoffelrösti as well, but his was layered with ham, mushrooms, and cheese and baked until melted and smothered in a dark sauce. The dish was a bit of a mess, to be honest, and Matt noted that it was like an open-faced sandwich. It was, however, extremely tasty.
Both his mom and his sister immensely enjoyed their meals, as well. His younger sister got the pork medallions in Kräuterbutter, an herb butter popular in Germany, and loved it. His mother ordered the large Schweineshaxe. I was surprised at how crispy the skin was; it reminded me of pork crackling. The meat was also very tender, and she loved the bread dumpling and bacon-cooked cabbage that came with it. I think I'll have to try the Schweineshaxe myself next time I go back.
We all thoroughly enjoyed our meals at Ochs'n Willi, and I should note that the service was excellent. The waitress was attentive and we didn't have to flag her down for a refill on beer, which is rare in Germany. The menus were in German at the front and English in the back, making it a great place to bring our non-German-speaking family to. In addition, the hostess brought Leo a bowl of water right away, which I always appreciate. She was very nice, and later joked that she was going to keep Leo to clean up the floor!
Ochs'n Willi is conveniently located in downtown Stuttgart beneath the Cube art museum across from the new castle. If you're looking for traditional German food, then I suggest you try it, especially the Schweineshaxe (though I can't say much about the Maultaschen or the Spätzle -- for those I think I'll stick with Calwar-Eck-Brau). The restaurant is open daily from 11:00 am to 11:30 pm.