Wednesday 26th May 2010
The majority of visitors arriving by train at the beautiful city of Cologne (Köln) and looking for a beer will head straight from the Hauptbahnhof (Main station), pass the stunning cathedral (Dom), and enter the Altstadt (Old Town) where there is a bewildering array of fantastic pubs to savour.
However, there is another classic in the other direction. This is the Schreckenskammer, a name that has a few different translations but the acceptable version is the "Horror Chamber".
There is nothing horrific about this pub. On the contrary, it is quite lovely, as well as being very traditional. On entering you find the main room on the right and a smaller room to the left. This is much more of a drinking room, especially at lunch times. It had its own brewery until the building was almost completely destroyed during an air raid in 1943. Completely rebuilt in the style of the original it opened its doors again in 1960, albeit without the brewery.
Unlike most pubs in the city, this one has somewhat restricted opening hours, see information at the bottom for full details. It is in the shadow of the brooding Ursula Church in a mostly residential area, yet is less than ten minutes walk from the station. The Hansa-Ring station is actually slightly closer.
It has a typical Cologne menu with local specialities such as pork knuckle (Hämmchen) with sauerkraut and also potato pancakes. In fact from 17.00 on Fridays there is a special menu devoted to these (Reibekuchen) alongside the normal menu.
The pub has its own beer, Schreckenskammer Kölsch (4.8%) which, it is believed, comes from the Dom brewery. It is served direct from the cask. Of course, it is in the local style of beer (Kölsch), which starts life as a top fermented beer, like an ale, but then is placed in a closed container to finish maturation, like a lager. It is brewed to the original recipe and, until recently, was only to be found on draught at the pub.
However, there has been a development as it is now to be found in a flip-top bottle (Bügelflache) as well, and can be bought outside of the pub as well as in.
All in all, a great place to unwind, away from the thronging crowds that are often to be found in the city.
Strechenkammer, Ursulagartenstrasse 11-15, Köln
Tel: 0221 132581
Open: Tuesday to Saturday 11.00-13.45 and 16.30-2230.
Closed: Sunday / Monday / Public Holidays. Also much of July.
Food: 12.00-13.45 and 17.00-21.30.