To me, Hannover is one of my favorite cities in Europe. It’s a place where the big city life meets small town Germany. Hannover has everything that Hamburg, Berlin and Munich has, just packed in a dense city center. It's a city packed with music, art and culture, and the vegan scene is no different.
One of my favorite personal quests in Hannover included tasting Hannover's thriving vegan scene. Hiller claims to be the oldest vegetarian café in Germany, selling hot meals and sweet treats since 1955. Today, Hiller has been vegan since 2012. I recognized the name Hiller because they serve food truck-style meals at the many vegan and city events in town.
Meandering west of the Hauptbanhof, we found Hiller tucked away in a residential side street corridor and nestled behind a tiny street-side café with bushes to privatize guests to the walker-bys.
Sitting outside on a hot summer day, the staff (and the nagging bees) welcomed us with a simple menu, or “speisekarte.” Nothing too complex or over the top, the menu looks basic and straightforward, but trust me the flavors burst with excellence.
Cute, quiet and quaint, this is a place to visit for an authentic European experience. Most Americans would call it the slow food movement; Hiller’s is not a fast-paced location. And that doesn’t mean that they are slow or unorganized, it’s just the lifestyle and I dig that. It’s what Europe is, a slow moving snail (schnecke) compared to our bullet-paced eating culture in America. Eat healthy. Eat slowly. Enjoy life. Sounds simple right?
I decided to order the CHAMPIGNONS À LA CRÈME MIT SALBEI-RISOTTO UND SEITAN-KRUSTLING. Or in English, mushrooms in a cream sauce with sage risotto and a seitan steak. To me, this was the most unique option on the menu, plus I had a hankering for seitan.
While trying to perfect my own homemade meats, I realized that restaurant seitan and gluten-based meats have something to them – flavor. As a vegan food critic, I know a lot of “stuff” has to go into vegan meats. I remember in college I used to love Morning Star’s bacon strips, until I read the ingredient label. It had MSG and all these other things in it that I could not pronounce.
Making seitan at home is sometimes not the same as compared to restaurant style.
And hot damn did I make the right choice. I forgot my DSLR so I had to use my IPhone to capture the savory and palate-popping flavor. Everything was perfect and in unity even right down to the mushroom.
Mushrooms with quark (similar to a yogurt sauce) is a popular German essen (food). They sautéed the mushrooms to perfection, soft, but left with a slight crunch. Mixed with the seitan, I felt my body powered with enough protein to last me through my upcoming Greek vacation.
And, the bees liked it too. Swarming and disturbing my meal, the bees were out for any chance at a lick of food, but I think they preferred the apple and avocado salad. But in all honesty, how could the bees not like the salad? It was a molten lava of chakra-pumping vegetables that ignited my confidence to believe that I could achieve anything. (And least thats how I connect to healthy food.)
Topped with “apfel-zwiebel” (apple onion) dressing, I ran to the train station after eating to grab ingredients to try to recreate their dressing. This salad knocked my socks off especially with the combination of the crunchy carrot and romaine with the soft avocado. The light dressing atop of the carrots were my favorite part.
For Hannover, prices are a bit on the higher end, but I promise its worth at least one dine. Hiller’s offers a Saturday buffet and mid-day 3 course meal. To sign off I’ll leave you with Hiller’s motto:
“Überraschend. Natürlich. Vegetarisch.”
Surprising. Naturally. Vegetarian – must I say more?
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Blumenstraße 3, 30159 Hannover
Telefon: 0511 - 32 12 88