Germany is filled with hundreds of picture-postcard villages, but Kallmunz may be the only one to boast a restaurant and brewery as memorable as "Zum Goldenen Loewen." In my Michelin restaurant guide to the food palaces of Germany, Kallmunz registers the single gastronomic blip in the entire sweeping Bavarian landscape between Nurnberg and the Czech border. What about Rothenburg-ob-der-Tauber, a favorite on airline calendars? A gastronomic wasteland. Doesn't register a culinary pip.
How does the Golden Lion do it? "I don't know exactly," admitted a member of the innkeeper's family, "but we've been doing it since the middle ages."
For starters there's the creamy soup of fresh mushrooms picked from the town's steep promontory harboring a ruined castle. If local mushrooms be your passion, they are also available in a vodka sauce accompanying pork strips. Other openers could include smoked trout mousse, Palatinate meat pies and the town's specialty, bauchstechala: potato noodles boiled and fried with garlic, leeks, bacon and egg.
The flowingly hand-lettered menus are made up daily but could include roast farm duck a jus, a skewer of Upper Bavarian meats with horseradish sauce and Bohemian noodles, braised beef in red-wine sauce and chicken in a sauce of rosemary, garlic and lemon. The only dessert to be considered is homemade walnut ice cream with a "Zoigl" beer syrup.
Zoigl beer comes from an ages-old secret process unique to each of a select circle of home breweries in the region—and there's one right out behind the Golden Lion. If the process is unique, so is the taste. All I can say is that zoigl is dark but only semi-robust, semi-sweet and pleasantly on the flat side. It also can be turned into a magnificent syrup to pour over walnut ice cream.
While the town itself—with its 15th-century bridge and leaning church steeple (too much Zoigl beer?)—absorbs the pixels of modern color photography nicely and has captured the eye of such artists as Wassily Kandinsky, the Golden Lion and its adjoining brewery evokes the steel-edged blacks and whites of Ansel Adams. Taste and mood rule in these confines; not color.