Walking into the month-old German restaurant Das Schnitzelhaus, you hear authentic German music.
You smell roasted pork and vinegary sauerkraut. You see the bright ocean blue jumping off the walls and beautiful fresh flowers picked from the garden out back.
Even more so, you feel as if you walked into Chef Cornell Taubert's home, because, well, the restaurant is in fact in a home.
Das Schnitzelhaus restaurant, 1522 W. Main St., is like stepping into a Bavarian dream complete with the heaping plates of meat and the sweet decadence of German chocolate.
This is not the first time I've stepped foot in the William and Louise Thiel House, a Queen Anne-style home built in 1895. Two years ago, this was the location of Peacefrog Cafe, a hip coffeehouse with open mic and boardgame nights. After it closed, the building was for sale for quite some time.
That was until Taubert found it. He grew up in East Germany, and was born to a German mother and Hungarian father. At age 16, he began culinary training that took him to many countries and exposed him to many different variations on his own German style.
After studying German for eight years in school, I was more than thrilled to review a German restaurant. I've always been enamored with the history, culture and language.
“Ich liebe auch deutsches Essen,” which means “I also love German food.”
Leading up to the review, I knew I needed a partner in crime, or shall I say, dine. Naturally, I asked my foodie boyfriend, who is of German heritage, Mason Kirchubel, to come along. I'm so glad I did, because at a place like Das Schnitzelhaus you'll need a little help. You'll want to try everything on the menu, and the portions are for sharing or leftovers.
The restaurant only seats 38 people, so we were pleased when we were seated at a cozy table near the bay window at the front of the house. As we gushed over the variety on the menu, we finally decided on what we wanted to order.
The meal began with a basic house side salad. The salad was fresh and dressed perfectly with a vinegary dressing — not too much dressing and not too sour. The salads came with our dinner order, but they are also available a la carte.
Then we received our soup. I felt as if I had no choice but to order the hot dog soup — it was just too intriguing to pass up.
The soup was surprising. Along with a vegetable broth base and sauerkraut, pickles, peppers and onions, the soup was riddled with sliced hot dogs. I'm not talking about the mystery meat-type of hot dogs. These hot dogs were the real deal. The creation reminded me of a hearty, meal-type soup that would be wonderful to enjoy on a brisk fall day.
Mason ordered the garlic and onion soup, and it was not the bad breath creator you immediately picture. It had a chicken broth base, and translucent onions delicately floated around the soup with the freshly cracked pepper. The garlic was obvious and noticeable, but it was not overwhelming. The soup was refreshing, light and the perfect complement to the hearty meal we were then handed.
When the meal came, I'm sure the waitress could see the drool forming on our lips.
I wanted to try everything, so, naturally, I ordered the German platter, which included the sauerkraut, spaetzle, roasted pork, schnitzel and bratwurst.
I love sauerkraut. I know it's not for everyone's taste, but I plead with you to give it another try. This sauerkraut was homemade, delicious and intermingled with sliced bits of carrots.
Spaetzle is a homemade egg noodle dumpling that, when cooked, is spread through a variety of tools such as a colander or slotted spoon and then dropped into boiling water. Mason has made this at home many times. There seems to be an art to the perfect batch, and wow, did Chef Taubert serve us a great batch. The spaetzle was moist, creamy and perfectly coated with a light gravy.
Of the trio of pork offerings, the roasted pork was my favorite. The moist meat, doused in gravy, fell apart with a mere touch of my fork. That heavenly piece of pig was the first thing to disappear from my plate.
You don't have to know much about German food to know what schnitzel is. Boneless pork loin is pounded into a thin piece, and the breading on the cut was seasoned well and had crispy ends. More importantly, the crust-to-meat ratio was spot-on, and the meat was moist despite its crunchy exterior.
When we talk about the bratwurst, don't picture your run-of-the-mill tailgating brat. This was ein deutscher Bratwurst with a thick casing that was sliced with three careful incisions into the top of the sausage. Of course, it paired perfectly with a bit of sauerkraut.
Mason ordered the rouladen, which is a large, thin slice of beef wrapped around a pickle spear with mustard and onions. The plate also included red cabbage and spaetzle, and was topped with a thin gravy.
When he received the meal, he wasn't aware of the surprise nestled inside the beef.
Once he realized the magical deliciousness of his meal, he said these exact words (I just had to write it down because it was so genuine, honest and funny): “It's like opening a present. It just keeps getting better and better.”
When it comes to the perfect way to polish off a meal, I tend to go with the salty opposed to the sweet. But that is not the case for Mason. When it was time to choose a dessert for the perfect culmination of our entire culinary experience, he knew exactly what to order, and that was the Black Forest cherry cake.
Of course, Das Schnitzelhaus did not leave us disappointed. The cake was two pieces of spongy, light cake with cherry filling in the middle topped with a hefty amount of whipped cream, flaked with chocolate, drizzled with chocolate syrup and perfectly topped with a maraschino cherry.
Just as Mason said earlier, the meal at Das Schnitzelhaus was just like opening a present, and it did just get better and better.
When you visit, take note that the only parking is a small gravel parking lot at the side of the building, as well as street parking along Main Street. However, there was a bike rack outside the building. With four small steps leading into the home, there was no clear handicap entrance.