The Quest for the Wurst
Do you sit down regularly and drink a LITER of beer? Liter mugs of good lager are usually reserved for a trip to a German biergarten and restaurant. My love of German restaurants began a few years ago, after going to a great German restaurant in Moore, Oklahoma, of all places. I thought that if this place was so good then these types of restaurants must be everywhere. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
A good German restaurant is actually a gem and, like a gem, is not only quite rare, but most have slight imperfections even when you do find a good one. I travel quite a bit, either through work or just for vacations, and I scout out German restaurants wherever I go. I have not been everywhere, obviously, but I have a tried a fair few. With my experience I have determined what you should look for at every German restaurant:
- Sausages that are made in the restaurant.
- At least one house beer.
- Handmade schnitzel and spaetzle.
- And, at least one a night a week, they should have someone playing live German music (how else can you chug your liter of beer?!).
There are more needs to a German restaurant to make it successful, but I am not here to talk about how to have adequate service staff or to pay your cooks and waitresses appropriate incomes. I am here to talk about beer and bratwurst. Oh, and schnitzel… schnitzel can be amazing.
Now, as a frame of reference, in Austria at 2:00 in the morning you can buy a sausage that is about a foot and a half long, wrapped in a single slice of white sandwich bread (you know, the square kind with polka dots on the bag.) So, to say authentic German food, what we really want to look for is what we Americans have come to consider authentic German food. For me, this food list includes: grilled bratwursts, chewy pretzels, salty pork schnitzel, house-made spaetzle, real sauerkraut, and flaky apple strudel with whipped cream.
Four restaurants are on my list and some of them hit all the marks and some don’t, but remember my gem reference: perfection is almost mythical (I mean, there is a reason the a bottle of 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay and the Hope Diamond are in the Smithsonian Museum).
My tour of German restaurants include:
- The Royal Bavaria in Moore, Oklahoma
- The Schnitzelbank Restaurant in Jasper, Indiana
- The Hofbräuhaus in Chicago, Illinois
- The Biergarten Restaurant at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida
Each of my above restaurants hits the marks on most but some are trying harder than others. The Royal Bavaria is making multiple in-house brews; Schnitzelbank has started brewing their own but they have already been bringing people in with just their food; the Hofbräuhaus has location and schnitzel but need to step it up; and, lastly, the Biergatren in Disney hitting the marks but remains a tourist spot.
I will be going through my highs and lows of each restaurant in my next blog posts in the upcoming weeks. Please check out my first review of The Royal Bavaria here.