That was our response to Kitty Humbug, when one morning he said “Boy am I hungry for some German food.”
Well, it just so happens that our trip to and from Enchanted Rock goes through Fredericksburg, a German bastion in the Texas Hill Country. The town “was founded in 1846 and named after Prince Frederick of Prussia. Old-time German residents often referred to Fredericksburg as Fritztown, a nickname that is still used in some businesses. The town is also notable as the home of Texas German, a dialect spoken by the first generations of German settlers who initially refused to learn English” (wikipedia.com)
After intensive research (actually just a quick Google search), we learned that the Ausländer Restaurant and Biergarten seemed to be the highest rated German restaurant in town, albeit only earning an average of 3.5 stars. Since Ausländer is the German word for “outsider,” “foreigner,” or “tourist,” that should have been a clue.
Although there is no way to verify this, John B on yelp.com writes: “This place belonged to my parents in the '60s and early '70s. When they bought it in 1962 it was a one room truck stop with the kitchen in the back and a bar on one side. The building was actually the first public school in Fredericksburg. The folks did a remodel into a two dining areas with a soda shop style bar on one side. It was all done in turquoise formica.”
We entered through the rear parking lot and walked through the semi-outdoor biergarten where a small set of bleachers and an equally small stage suggests that entertainment is part of the atmosphere. An oompah band, anyone?
But it was chilly and we opted to eat in the main dining room—which was also none too warm. The room evoked the atmosphere of a medieval castle with its high ceilings and
massive fireplace (which did nothing to warm our corner of the room)
atop which sat two large German nutcrackers.
One wall held a large case displaying German beer steins.
Another wall held a display of cuckoo clocks.
And flanking the fire place two pair of large paintings depicting German scenes. Look carefully at this painting. Look at the couple on the left. Double click the image to get a better look. What are Snidely Whiplash and Innocent Young Nell Fenwick doing hanging out in a German beer hall?*
Customer attire ranged from the stylish to the ultra-casual—sometimes at the same table.
When we opened the menu, we issued a collective “huh?” What are Mexican items doing on a German restaurant menu. In addition to chips and salsa, the menu offered Nacho Dip (frijoles, cheddar, onions, tomatoes, sour cream, melted cheddar and fresh guacamole with chips and homemade salsa) and Quesadillas (green chilies, tomatoes, cheddar and jack cheese melted in a large flour tortilla). And then there was something called Mexican pizza. This is not looking good.
Finally, we found the German Specialties. There were your expected sausages—bratwurst, knackwurst, käsewurst, and pepperwurst. There were Kassler Rippchen (partially smoked pork chops) and Jagerschnitzel (breaded pork loin cutlet smothered in a choice of red or white wine and mushroom gravy. There were Wienerschnitzel (breaded pork loin cutlet) and a horror called Texaschnitzel (schnitzel covered with ranchero sauce, Monterey Jack, sour cream and guacamole.) And there was Rouladen—thinly sliced roast beef rolled tightly around pickles, onions, bacon and mustard and covered in beef gravy. I’ve had rouladen in other German restaurants and its not too bad—for German food.
Chuck started with a bowl of potato soup which came garnished with grated cheese and toasted pumpernickel croutons. This was a semi-puree—not completely smooth but still without recognizable chunks of potato. But I thought it was in real need of some salt and pepper. Seasonings were never a strong suit of German cooks. I remember that it was a “mark the calendar” day when my Thrifty German Mother came home from the supermarket with a jar of dried oregano.
Both of our meals came with salad which was a mix of baby greens (Yes, in a German restaurant!) topped with fresh and juicy chopped tomato. I do have to give a thumbs up on my chucky blue cheese dressing.
All of the German Specialties come with your choice of two sides—hot German potato salad, red cabbage, potato pancakes, sauerkraut, spätzle, mashed potatoes, or green beans. Chuck’s choice of meal was the Pepperwurst (a spicy local sausage made with smoked beef and pork) with potato pancakes and green beans.
My choice was the käsewurst—a spicy sausage made with smoked pork, beef and sharp cheddar—with spätzle and red cabbage.
I’ll start with our two sausage choices. First, whatever they use for casings in Texas (and most companies claim that they use all natural casings), they get tough and chewy in the cooking process. Second, I think most Texas sausages—and that includes my favorites of Opa’s and Meiers Elgin—contain too much pepper. And both apply to Chuck’s pepperwurst and to my käsewurst.
With the exception of Chuck’s potato pancakes which were tasty little patties of shredded potatoes mixed with grated onions, the sides ranged from average (the green beans) to really bad (the red cabbage). The spätzle may have been good with a dish like the rouladen with some gravy to provide moisture but otherwise were bland and dry. And the red cabbage was dreadful. It was mushy mess of sugary cabbage that should have been called cabbage jam and spread on toast for breakfast.
I just don’t like German food. Never have. Probably never will. So at best, the highest rating I can give the Ausländer Restaurant and Biergarten is 2.0 Addies.
* You don’t remember Snidely Whiplash? He is “the cartoon arch-villain to Dudley Do-Right in the tongue-in-cheek “Dudley Do-Right of the Mounties” segments of The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show by American animation pioneer Jay Ward” (wikipedia.com). Nell Fenwick was Dudley’s lady friend.
To review the role of Adler, Kitty Humbug, and the Addie rating system, read the November 14, 2011 blog.