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I know all these Ancestry DNA kits are the rage right now – taking a quick test to find out your actual heritage. When your immediate family tree has names like Killibrew, Ambler, and Cook there is no need – you know you are German, Irish and a tad English. You grow up with regular appearances of things like Irish Soda Bread, Sweet and Sour Cabbage – even mamma’s rouladen on the dinner table. Checking out the food at the almost 5-year-ol German Cafe was going to be a taste test worth attempting; especially since every local I chatted with sang nothing but high praises of their culinary delights.
Bavarian china adorns the walls and whimsical displays with an eclectic mix of homey and vintage collections are everywhere to create and welcoming and relaxing visit. It made me giggle to wonder how many cuckoo clocks were actually on display.
When you walk inside the doors, you are greeted with charming continental decor – almost like being invited to join a local family for dinner in a German home. Just look at the hand embroidered linens that grace the tables – this was from my spot on table #3.
Now, let’s talk about the food! In true European fashion, the menu is a la carte. If you have a hard time figuring out what to pick, what matches best with what, and what will make your taste buds sing better -> go with their number one seller: the sampler plate. The “Grosse Platter” includes: bratwurst, knachwurst, original Polish sausage, one schnitzel, Hungarian goulash, German noodles, German fried potatoes, German potato salad, red cabbage, sauerkraut and hunters gravy (a tasty thick brown mushroom sauce. This is perfect for a group and you will all get to enjoy a variety of tasty treats.
The menu lets you know that there is a twenty minute wait for the Grosse Platter so that gives you time to enjoy a glass of Gewurztraminer wine and conversation or to walk around and see what all there is to see on display. I chose to sit and enjoy the wine and eavesdrop on my neighboring tables who were working their way through their own Grosse Platters to hear their thoughts, but they were too busy moaning in delight over their plates to talk to each other. Then my food arrived.
Before you freak out – I asked for a scaled down version as a solo diner and was still offered more food than I could possibly eat. They usually start this offering for 2+ people and were kind enough to indulge me for this review.
The German Cafe nailed it. Cooked to perfection, the flavors and textures of the traditional German cuisine. One bite and it was like I was back in Eisleben Germany with Miss Sarah.
The bratwurst, knachwurst, and Polish sausage were all on point. The schnitzel was perfectly breaded and fried – and the first time I have had it at any American restaurant where is wasn’t swimming in grease. Simplistic perfection. German noodles, or spaetzle as we called it growing up, were delicate yet firm and a perfect treat with a little of the hunter’s gravy. The German fried potatoes were simply seasoned and adorned with bits of sauteed onion and bacon. Real bacon. The vinegar based German potato salad also had a touch of dill pickles in the dressing – and was cold. Some Germans like it hot, some cold and some do a sour cream based with bacon and cucumbers – it depends on what area of Germany you are talking about. Their version hit the mark perfectly for blending tastes with this collection of treats. The red cabbage took me back to childhood Sunday dinners with my momma’s family.
Now, the Hungarian Goulash.
It was a religious experience. The meat was so tender that you could flake it apart with your fork. It melted in my mouth. If you don’t want to try the sampler plate, then go with the goulash. You can’t miss the goulash.
In the age of “fusion” blending of different cuisines, it is refreshing to find a family owned restaurant that sticks to traditional fare and they do it right at the German Cafe. Make a point to stop in and indulge yourself when you are in Southern Indiana. May I suggest you call for a reservation? I saw people turned away at the door because they were so busy on a Saturday night and after eating there, I can see why. They are open for lunch and dinner, but closed Mondays.
452 S Maple St
French Lick, Indiana