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There’s more to German food than just sauerkraut
by Peggy Hyland, Contributing Writer
Opened in 1974, The Bavarian Chef is now a second-generation family operation. Remaining true to the old-world food and the family tradition, the menu has regular favorites supplemented by a rotating list of specials.
Unable to decide on any one appetizer, we ordered a variety: cream of wild mushroom soup, snails in beer batter, a Bavarian sausage platter, and one of the night’s specials: a Bavarian pretzel with a zesty beer cheese sauce. The sampler came with three mouthwatering types of sausage, a stone-ground mustard dipping sauce and sauerkraut. Despite having grown up in Baltimore, where sauerkraut is a staple served at the Thanksgiving school lunches, I have always hated sauerkraut … until now. This one was delicately flavored, beautifully textured, and quite delicious. That surprise clued me to the fact I was in for a much more delicious evening than I expected.
The variety of entrées have options for nearly every palate, and the portions are huge. The “princess cut” of the beef medallions was still enough to warrant leftovers. I went for the Rheinischer Sauerbraten; vinegary marinated beef in a sweet and sour raisin sauce. The sauce, a rare combination in American cooking, is a German standby for a reason. The beef was fork-tender, silky, and paired beautifully with the sauce. My companion got distracted by the schweinshaxe, a jaw-dropping mountainous pork shank topped with crispy onions and served with a side of homemade sausage stuffing that made me go weak at the knees. Pork lovers will want to try the zigeuner schnitzel, delicately breaded pork over a fantastic sauce of mushrooms, onions, peppers, tomatoes and bacon.
Sides for the main course are served family style, so be sure to ask for tasting plates if you do not want to mix them in with the sauce on your entrées. The whipped potatoes were divine, a tangy, smooth treat. The German potato salad had all the warmth and comfort I longed for. The absolute star was the red cabbage, tender and delectable. I love red cabbage in myriad ways, but this completely stole my heart.
Completely full and eyeing our leftovers, we still could not resist the allure of the dessert tray. My friend and I decided to split the Sacher Torte, a flourless dark chocolate treat with raspberry filling. The Grand Marnier Crème Torte was a creamy, fluffy dream, drizzled with chocolate sauce. If you are too full for dessert but want a sweet treat, perhaps try a sweet martini.
I had driven by The Bavarian Chef countless times over the years, always thinking, “I should go there sometime.” A reader suggestion gave me the nudge to make it happen. Maybe now, this is the nudge you need to make it happen, too.