Thursday, October 19, 2017

Gasthof zur Waldbahn, Zwiesel (Germany) by Foghorn Leghorn

I’ve holidayed in the Bavarian Forest a few times, and there’s one place where I always return for food: Gasthof zur Waldbahn. The Waldbahn is the forest train line winding 70 km from the Danube plain up to the Czech border at Bayerisch Eisenstein. The Gasthof zur Waldbahn is a restaurant/hotel opposite the railway station in Zwiesel, 15 km from the border.

Gasthof zur Waldbahn, Zwiesel
Courtyard view

During a summer stay in Bayerisch Eisenstein, we cycled along forest paths down to Zwiesel for lunch. We had booked beforehand, but we’d forgotten to specify that we wanted to sit out in the courtyard. No problem: the restaurant was busy, but the staff quickly re-arranged tables to accommodate our group of six people. Upon request, we got English-language menus, and settled in.

Gasthof zur Waldbahn, Zwiesel, Keilhofer Dunkel
Keilhofer Dunkel

Gasthof zur Waldbahn, Zwiesel, Pilsner Urquell
Pilsner Urquell

We started off with a cooling drink. We tried two beers: Pilsner Urquell, and the local (dark) Keilhofer Dunkel. Purists would ignore the Pilsner and stick to the local brew, but we’re not purists. Pilsen is only 100 km from Zwiesel, so why shouldn’t we drink its best product? Anyway, it turned out that both beers were quite good.

Gasthof zur Waldbahn, Zwiesel, beer coaster
Local beer coaster

Eventually we worked our way through the (extensive) menu and chose our dishes.

In this part of the world, lunch always starts with soup, so that’s what four of the group chose. There were two pepper soups, one brewer’s soup, and one soup of the day (curry).

Gasthof zur Waldbahn, Zwiesel, brewer's soup
The dark and flavoursome brewer’s soup (Braumeistersuppe), an onion soup with meat-balls and dark beer, was voted the best.

Gasthof zur Waldbahn, Zwiesel, pepper soup
The pepper soup (Pfeffersuppe) was also excellent.

Gasthof zur Waldbahn, Zwiesel, curry soup
The curry soup was good, but not up to the standard of the other two.

Gasthof zur Waldbahn, Zwiesel, herb garden
Herb garden

Gasthof zur Waldbahn, Zwiesel, venison ragout, cranberries
For me, there was only one possible choice for main course: the venison ragout (Hirschragout), served with Bohemian dumplings and cranberries. (Cranberries are a popular accompaniment to game dishes, and are said to aid digestion.) The ragout had a meaty/gamey fragrance, enriched by the red wine sauce. If this is not the signature dish of the restaurant, it should be. I won’t go into the difference between Bavarian and Bohemian dumplings, the internet doesn’t have enough space for that. If you’re interested, you can look up the relevant Wikipedia page and branch out from there.

Gasthof zur Waldbahn, Zwiesel, game kebab
Mrs Leghorn chose the game kebab (Wilderer Spieß), a combination of venison, duck, smoked ham and forest mushrooms. It was OK, but a bit disappointing. The kebab’s quick cooking time didn’t bring the flavours together, and the meat was a bit dry. Game can be difficult to cook. Slow cooking (like a ragout) is a common option, and brings out the richness of the flavour. I’ve had steaks of kangaroo or venison cooked rare. This works well, but it needs to be the best cut of meat, and it generally needs to be marinated. I don’t think a kebab can do the meat justice.

Gasthof zur Waldbahn, Zwiesel, veal schnitzel
Schnitzel Boy chose (what else?) a veal schnitzel. In the previous few weeks, we’d travelled with him through Prague, Vienna and other places, and his universal choice of meal was schnitzel. He’s an expert, and he expects a schnitzel to have certain qualities. He was more than happy with the schnitzel at Gasthof zur Waldbahn. Just to make it better, the staff were happy to satisfy his request and serve it with chips rather than the usual baked potato and salad.

Gasthof zur Waldbahn, Zwiesel, steak with herb crust
Art Girl chose an Angus rump steak with red wine sauce, baked in a herb crust with potato gratin (Rumpsteak vom Angus Ochsen unter der Krӓuterkruste). This was deemed quite good, even if the accompaniments were a little over-complex.

Gasthof zur Waldbahn, Zwiesel, steak
Krabik had a grilled Angus steak with chips (Rumpsteak vom Angus Ochsen gegrillt). A classic steak and chips combination that worked well.

Gasthof zur Waldbahn, Zwiesel, fried fish
Granny chose fried fish (Backfisch), a mixture of pike, pike-perch and plaice, and pronounced herself satisfied.

Gasthof zur Waldbahn, Zwiesel
Outdoor dining area

Gasthof zur Waldbahn, Zwiesel, red wine
To accompany the meal, we ordered the house Cabernet, which was quite good. The bottles on the wine list seemed a bit over-priced, so the house wine was definitely a better choice.

Gasthof zur Waldbahn, Zwiesel, coffee
The meal was rounded off with desserts and coffee. The coffee was quite good, but the desserts were unfamiliar, so not very popular.

Gasthof zur Waldbahn, Zwiesel, tile oven
Tile oven

Gasthof zur Waldbahn, Zwiesel


We loved it
We loved it.


Gasthof zur Waldbahn is the place to go if you want to experience a really good Bavarian country restaurant. I’ve only been in summer, when it’s very pleasant to sit outside. I’m sure it’s just as pleasant in winter, as the restaurant has a number of tile ovens (Kachelofen) which are great at heating up a room (see second last pic).  The staff wear traditional costume, which in this part of Bavaria is often worn around town on Sundays or special holidays.

It’s the little touches that make this place so good. The outside tables have blankets draped on the chairs, in case it turns a bit chilly. The kitchen uses herb gardens for fresh herbs. The silverware and glassware are top quality. Above all, the staff are pleasant and eager to please.

Zwiesel is a pleasant small town, with a typical town square and other features. There’s a relatively recent (1889) “steam brewery” (Dampfbrauerei), which brews good beer.

If you’re a cyclist, you can visit Zwiesel along the Regen Valley cycleway (Regental Radweg). Otherwise, the Waldbahn is a pleasant train ride through the countryside.

Find it at

Gasthof zur Waldbahn
Bahnhofpl. 2
94227 Zwiesel, Germany
Phone: +49 9922 8570


Anonymous said...

Didn't know you were in Southern Germany - very jealous.


Foghorn Leghorn said...

It was a few months ago (sigh). We did a cycling holiday in Austria, Slovakia, Czech Republic and Germany.

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