“Violent grandma kitsch” is the first phrase that popped into my head when I thought about how I would describe Forsthaus Sattelbach to someone who asks. The quaint, lodge-like eatery is unassuming from the outset. It’s located in a remote spot in the forest in Oberhof, Germany, in the state of Thuringia; nature is literally its backyard, separated only by a fence. The fence is made of skis — an apt fit for Oberhof, which is a center for winter sports such as bobsledding, luging and, of course, skiing.
It’s inside Forsthaus Sattelbach that the strange description becomes clear. The walls are decorated with taxidermic animal heads, while the shelves hold knickknacks such as a smiling porcelain snail with “Willkommen” (welcome) written on it. There’s also a stuffed and mounted hawk hanging above a teddy bear on a swing.
The juxtaposition of a hunter’s spoils and a sweet old lady’s treasures is somehow perfectly fitting for the cozy restaurant, which serves delicious traditional Thuringian meats and dumplings. On the drizzly day of my visit, I savored the beef rouladen, which was just as good as my own German grandmother’s, while I watched the owner drop animal feed right outside the property. As some five or six deer enjoyed their meal while I enjoyed mine, the clouds cleared every so often to give me a quick glimpse at the spectacular view of the tree-lined mountains in the distance.