Luckily Kirk and Cathy and Vicky have been sharing their meals with you yosoers since ed (from Yuma) has been busy working (and eating). So today it is time for something completely different, something echt deutsch.
March 2011 update: Although this place closed for the summer, it is still going strong. It now has a liquor license and offers an excellent selection of unusual and satisfying German beers -- but that means that diners cannot bring their own (weird AZ law).
I should make it clear from the start that I rarely seek out German restaurants, even though my ancestry is 50% German and my maternal grandparents emigrated to the US in 1923 and always spoke with an accent. Nonetheless, too many German restaurants in the United States are long on fake gemutlichkeit and oompah music, their food being heavy, fatty, and salty. All the better, I guess, to sell beer.
So it was not my idea for the lunch bunch to try this new German restaurant located in the same space at the corner of Second and Madison that once housed Mustard's:
It was hard to tell what to expect from the menu as it contained most of the usual suspects -- sausage plates, schnitzel, rouladen, saurbraten, and sandwiches. We were all pleased to see that the entrées were available in a lunch portion that came with two sides for only $7.50.
I ordered the pork schnitzel "Weiner Art" (in the style of Vienna) with a gurkensalat (cucumber salad) and a kartoffelsalat (potato salad):
I was impressed -- no make that blown away. The pork cutlet was absolutely perfect, seriously crunchy on the outside and moist and tender on the inside. The mild pork flavor was perfectly accented by a squeeze of lemon.
The sides were good as well. The potato salad, truth be told, was unlike any that I had had in my family or in Germany, but it was still very good with a mild vinegary flavor and just a hint of mustard. The thinly sliced cucumbers were spiced with dill weed and swam in a tangy sour cream sauce. It was a perfect salad, both creamy and crunchy.
At this point I need to thank my friends who are used to my peculiarities and automatically allow me a chance to photograph their meals and even let me taste them sometimes. For some reason, they still dine with me.
Here is a lunch sized serving of rouladen:
The little rolled beef roast was tasty and I was very impressed by the perfectly cooked blaukraut (red cabbage), though the cabbage was not accented by cloves or allspice the way my grandmother did it.
My family prepared sauerbraten peasant style -- strongly marinated and then cooked like pot roast. At Das Bratwurst Haus, the dish is made with a better cut of beef and receives a more sophisticated treatment:
The marinade flavor, and hence the sourness, was mild, and the meat was perfectly balanced between the beefiness of the flesh and the slight sour tang of the marinade. The accompanying sauerkraut had been perfectly prepared so that it reached a degree of sweetness. I can't do it any better. This lunch made me want to return soon for dinner.
So soon Tina and I sat down in a corner table to sample some German dinners. We were pleased to see the friendly and competent server we'd enjoyed at Mustard's (he joked that he came with the property). Service at dinner was especially good that evening.
Tina ordered jaegerschnitzel, the pork schnitzel topped with mushroom gravy, red cabbage (oddly enough, called blaukraut, blue cabbage, in German), and spaetzle (sorry about the nighttime lighting in the photos):
Again the schnitzel and red cabbage were very good. Although shaped more like mini dumplings than noodles, the spaetzle were tender and flavorful, the lightly flavored mushroom gravy allowing the taste of the pasta to shine through.
That evening I opted for the rouladen:
Notice that the dinner sized portion contained two of these little rolled roasts. Each roast is like a large slice of beef round rolled around bacon, onion, and in the center, a thin slice of dill pickle. A classic German dish prepared well here.
In addition to more of the addictive cucumber salad, I chose semmelknoedel (bread dumplings) as my other side dish, getting two slices from a larger dumpling as my portion:
Although Tina thought they weren't heated through quite fully enough, we both certainly enjoyed their flavor, which is much like a savory turkey dressing.
Speaking of turkeys, we were both stuffed by this time, but we had admired the pastries coming into the restaurant and just had to have some desert (only because I wanted to do a complete post -- really, that's the only reason).
So we sampled the apple strudel, which was good, but not breathtaking:
The Black Forest cake, on the other hand, was breathtaking:
The combination of dense, dark chocolate cake, sweet and fruity whole Bing cherries, and plenty of homemade Schlagsahne (whipped cream) was just about perfect. The range of sweet flavors and the overall richness were outstanding. This desert was a perfect ending to a good meal.
As we finished dining, we learned that the older gentleman at the next table (who had been listening to us critiquing the meal) was the owner/chef's husband, and he explained that his wife was from Bamberg in the far north of Bavaria (Franconia), which has its own cuisine, and that this restaurant grew out of a popular catering business she had. This explains why the food seemed so authentic, but not exactly like what I grew up eating.
The local paper recently announced that Das Bratwurst Haus has received its BYOB license, so diners may now bring a bottle of wine or up to 24 ounces of beer per customer for a five dollar set up charge. Can't beat that either. Prost!
Das Bratwurst Haus, 204 S. Madison Ave, 928-329-4777. Open 11 - 8 daily.