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February 2003

Get Your Butts Outta Here

Non-smoking restaurants in Munich

Café Ignatz
Georgenstrasse 67
Tel. (089) 271 60 93
Open Mon.–Fri. 8 am–10 pm;
Sat.–Sun. 9 am–10 pm

Café Ignatz is one of the few establishments where Munich diners can avoid the otherwise ubiquitous, choking clouds of smoke. Two dining rooms are situated off the narrow corridor that leads from the entrance past a gorgeous display of sweets featuring tiny, festive biscuits, rich layered cakes and delicate fruit tarts. Dessert as a starter becomes tempting. And indeed, with an all-vegetarian menu that is perhaps too concerned with offering the broadest possible selection of international dishes, dessert turns out to be Café Ignatz’s strength. Service moves at a glacial pace and it can take up to 45 minutes for food to arrive. When it does, it's often disappointing. The potato, broccoli and sheep’s cheese casserole (€ 8) and the crepe filled with spinach, mushrooms and goat’s cheese (€ 8.50) are certainly tasty but are served swimming in a milky bath. The Japanese noodles with mixed vegetables (€ 9) arrive as a tangle of translucent noodles, red pepper and mushrooms in an unpalatable, slick brown sauce. By comparison, the vegetable patty with polenta and tomato sauce (€ 7.70) is pleasantly satisfying. Café Ignatz offers a weekend brunch buffet from 9 am to 1:30 pm and a set meal that includes soup or salad, a choice of main dish and dessert, for € 11.90. It’s a good way to sample the kitchen’s vast offerings, but may ultimately leave you feeling like you’ve paid a high price for a good piece of cake.
Food 4, Service 5, Atmosphere 8

S.M. Vegetarisch
Amalienstrasse 45
Tel. (089) 28 18 82
Open Mon.–Thurs. 11 am–7 pm;
Fri. 11 am–6 pm; Sat. 11 am–3 pm

At lunchtime busy professionals and penny-conscious students stream in to this tiny eatery in Schwabing. While essentially a fast-food place, S.M. Vegetarisch produces high-quality Asian-style vegetarian dishes with fresh ingredients that yield distinctive, lively flavors. The house soup is chock-full of julienned carrots, sliced mushrooms, bamboo shoots and tofu, and is generously peppered without being overwhelmingly spicy. Sushi rolls, sprinkled with ground peanut and stuffed with various vegetables, are a unique and delicious treat. Crisp golden brown vegetable dumplings served with a sweet and sour sauce and white rice (€ 4.50) is a popular main dish. Bite into one and the soft, spongy interior dotted with carrots and scallions melts in your mouth. Nasi Goreng, a simple Indonesian curried rice, is a light dish and another fine example of S.M. Vegetarisch’s mastery of the spices they use (€ 3.50). For a little variety request a half order of any two main dishes, such as the vegetable dumplings and the broccoli and tofu (€ 5). S.M. Vegetarisch is not a full-service restaurant but rather a “Stehcafe” (stand-up café) with one long counter and several tall tables. A few folding stools are available in the back of the room, but few people linger over their meals here, and the lunchtime turnover occurs at a feverish pace with many customers ordering their meals to go. Nonetheless, it’s a pleasant environment offering good food at very reasonable prices. The only drawback is that the restaurant closes relatively early.
Food 8, Service 9, Atmosphere 7

St.-Anna-Platz 1
Tel. (089) 29 16 25 25
Open Mon.–Sat. 9 am–12:30 am.

Both an elegant restaurant and a gourmet shop, Gandl is delightful in more than one way. In this stylish setting the overall atmosphere is relaxed and unpretentious. Under soft lighting a team of white-apron-clad servers deftly navigates the adjoining smoking and non-smoking dining rooms. Polite and professional, they demonstrate an impressive knowledge of the menu and wine list. Appetizers range from € 3.95 for a small side salad to € 12.50 for the grilled seafood and arugula salad. Main courses are pricey (€ 17.50 – € 19), but the nightly € 31 four-course meal is more than reasonable. Outstanding celery cream soup sprinkled with truffel oil, delicious balsamic-infused lentils and tender filet of pike may make up the evening meal. Not everything lives up to expectations, however. The eggplant terrine seemed bland (although the homemade pesto it was served with was excellent) and the strawberries that accompanied the crème brûlée were terribly unripe and out of season. A pity, because the marvelous crème brûlée could have easily stood on its own as the perfect end to a fine meal.
Food 8, Service 10, Atmosphere 9

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