Germany’s fourth largest city (after Berlin, Hamburg, and Munich) took me a while to get to, but with an assist from some local Kölners, I discovered some great burger spots. Cologne, or Köln, spans both sides of the north Rhine river – though I’m told there is only one ‘correct’ side – the West side. During the Second World War, the city was 95% destroyed, but by the reunification of Germany in 1990, it had become a media center for entertainment and broadcast companies. With a thriving university area – and the renaissance of Kölsch beer (now globally recognized) – Cologne can boast some excellent burger joints.
Die Fette Kuh was founded in 2011 by Walter Schnerring and is run by him along with his partner, Andreea Bratu and friend, Martin Block. Sitting in the Südstadt neighborhood of Cologne, ‘The Fat Cow’ has become a local staple for burger-lovers of all ages. And for good reason: their beef is exclusively from Lower-Rhine pastures, is never frozen, and is ground daily. The beef and steaks are aged and air-dried for 28 days before hitting the grinder or grill. Their buns are baked each day by the “master baker”. Apart from Heinz ketchup and Löwrensenf (German mustard) all Die Fette Kuh’s sauces and dressings are house-made.With all of the beef, vegetables, and supplies coming from the surrounding Rhine region, Die Fette Kuh is definitely a local joint. Their burgers come in 120g or 200g patty sizes and a basic Hamburg starts at €6.90. The beef is the main attraction here; any burger joint who takes the time to properly age their beef wins points in my book, and Die Fette Kuh definitely hits the flavorful profile that I look for in the beef patty.
I went for a 200g BBQ bacon cheeseburger, which came on their house bun with smoked bacon, cheddar cheese, lettuce, caramelized onions, and smothered in homemade BBQ sauce. It was piled high and skewered with a bamboo pick to hold everything together.
Die Fette Kuh is a well-oiled machine, operating with four staff behind the counter working to churn out gourmet burgers at a high rate of speed. My burger was delicious: oozing with flavor from the bacon, beef, and BBQ sauce, the bun held up under the juicy conditions and the lettuce added just the right fresh crunch to offset the texture perfectly.
The bun, while not a brioche/glazed bun, is really tasty. I would even eat it with an every-day sandwich, it’s that good. The bacon didn’t overpower the beef, but added to the flavor profile along with the caramelized onions – it was a thing of beauty. €8.90 was money well spent for this burger.
I would be remiss if I didn’t highlight the ridiculous chili cheese fries that we ordered for the table. The rustic-style french fries are fried and then baked in a cast iron skillet with cheese, chili and spices and then smothered in BBQ sauce, sour cream, and (for some reason) ketchup.
I can forgive the ketchup because the whole dish was amazing. They certainly don’t hold back on the ‘smothering’ that occurred with the toppings here. Almost a meal in itself, I do not recommend an individual person ordering this as their side dish. Our whole group picked at it in the center of the table along with another side of rosemary fries. We were barely able to finish the skillet.
Between four people and their burgers, two sides of fries were more than enough to satisfy our appetites. The rosemary fries were accompanied by a homemade truffle mayo – truffle mayo is always a good idea, write that down. The chili cheese fries were a major highlight though as everyone agreed they were decadently delicious.
The Fette Kuh is a small and cozy joint though. Expect a line at the ordering counter most evenings around 7pm and you may have to wait for a table as well. With seating inside for around thirty people in close-quarters and ten more outside, Die Fette Kuh is rather intimate. You won’t be rushed while eating, but expect hungry diners to be waiting in the wings for you to clean up that plate and head out.
That said, the rustic vibes inside Die Fette Kuh are very welcoming. Simple wooden tables and chairs are provided and the walls are painted a deep red and adorned with old-timey pictures from steak houses of eras gone by. The staff are friendly and helpful – not a given in Germany at all – and help out with a smile. A very-German chandelier sits in the middle of the dining area and ties the room together.
I can definitely recommend Die Fette Kuh as a warm, welcoming burger joint for anyone to try. Up there with the contenders for the best I’ve seen in Germany, it’s really worth a visit if you are ever in the Rhineland city of Cologne. You can visit Die Fette Kuh at Bonner Str. 43, 50677 in Köln or check out their website here.