Sunday, September 26, 2010

Wo ist mein Schnitzel?

"If I want a good schnitzel, I go home and make one," said my hair stylist Soeren Loeffler, who is from Germany and not about to waste his time on bad food, wine, beer, or cars. We were bemoaning the lack of a good German restaurant in Atlanta or environs. Like me, he has been to Helen (aka as "the fake German town") in northern Georgia and found the food as laughable as the town itself. Chattahoocheestrasse? Half-timbered Dairy Queen and SunTrust Bank? Live tarantula gallery?

So, when a new German restaurant, Der Biergarten, opened recently in downtown Atlanta by the Aquarium, I was eager to try it out. So, my friend Elaine and my daughter Alison and I went for lunch on a recent Sunday. We thought it was a good sign that several German-speaking groups were leaving as we arrived. The outside terrace was also promising--authentic German fest tables, flags, and signs. However, it was too hot to sit outside and so we went on in . . . to find a very non-authentic (but air-conditioned!) restaurant that looked like it might have been a minimalist Asian sports bar. Although they were out of several items, the service was friendly and fast, the beer was good (real German beer in real German beer glasses), the food was not bad. Alison thought probably the only authentic German person in the place might be the chef. We had decent O'batza (cheese ball) for an appetizer, wurst, red cabbage, potato salad, jaeger-schnitzel (with mushroom gravy), and spaetzle which were all good. No chance for dessert; they were all sold out. Our recommendations for them:
  1. Get better outfits for the wait-staff than t-shirts and jeans.
  2. Get someone to work there who at least looks like they might be German.
  3. Teach them a few phrases in German or get someone who can speak it (we think they may bet a lot of German tourists).
  4. Have available what's on the menu.
  5. Get authentic beer coasters.
  6. Get some German decor! (I have enough in boxes to decorate the place!)
  7. Play oom-pah music instead of classical.
  8. Put EuroSport on the big screen televisions.
  9. Put the menu in both German and English with more explanation.
  10. Sell souvenirs.
  11. Hire Alison and/or me as a consultant.
So! (Popular German word!) Just one week later, I found myself going with my neighbor Patsy to a German Fest at her favorite local restaurant, Petite Auberge in our neighborhood. Although it has been there a million years and has a French name, it is owned by Germans and this fest was way better than Der Biergarten experience! It was jointly sponsored by the Atlanta German Cultural Center and they had games, decorations, German beer, great food (extensive menu), wonderful German band, a beer garden, souvenirs, and lots of people dressed in real German (Bavarian) clothing including lederhosen! It was wunderbar! Unfortunately, it lasts only two days in September each year, but they are hosting an Oktoberfest Buffet on October 23 ($35 for all you can eat, plus the band, cash for German beer and wine). It's got to be good if this night was any indication.

So, does Atlanta have a good German restaurant yet? No, but there is hope. One can always drive 130 miles to Augusta and eat at The Augsburg Haus. Now, there is real German food! They recently moved to a new location, so I don't know if it's as cute as the old one, but hopefully the food and beer are just as good. I've eaten there a couple of times and really love their Roulade (Beef steak roll stuffed with bacon, pickle, onion, and mustard and served with spaetzle and red cabbage).

Guten appetit! (Below, real Nuernberger bratwurt and kraut in Munich)

1 comment:

  1. Nice job - as usual.

    Although, for me, "good food" paired with "German" is an oxymoron.