Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Like many Americans, some of my ancestors were German. When I was little we went to a church founded by German immigrants and every spring they had the Wurstmarkt, a sausage supper featuring German food, including the requisite bratwurst, sauerkraut and apple strudel. As such, German cuisine has a special place in my heart.
Last week a co-worker of mine mentioned a German restaurant in Independence, known as the Rheinland. I don't generally make the trip to Independence, but for real German food, I would make an exception. On Saturday night, my lovely wife Natasha and I met some friends there to enjoy a meal.
Immediately, I was smitten by the charm of the place. Run by a German couple, the wood paneling and simple decor of the place oozed with German charm (is that an oxymoron?). Having made reservations, we were immediately shown to our table and allowed to peruse the menu. Service was quick, and a charming woman (I'm assuming one of the owners, due to her accent) took our drink orders. And of course what would a German meal be without beer? Offering a small, but excellent selection, I opted for the Spaten Optimator, while Natasha had the Spaten Lager. We both decided on the Mass size, which in case you were unaware, means 1 liter of beer. This might seem expensive at $9 until you realize the sheer amount of beer that is one liter. And you need it to wash down the large-portioned entrees.
For mains, I had the veal Zigeunerschnitzel, or Gypsy schnitzel. Consisting of lightly-breaded veal (pork was also an option) topped with a spicy pepper sauce, the flavors reminded me a lot of Eastern European cuisine (which is to be expected). Natasha went with the Jagerschnitzel, which is essentially the same, only topped with a mushroom cream sauce. Both came with the choice of home fries or a homemade pasta known as spätzle. As we traded halfway through our meal, I went with the fries, and Natasha had the spätzle. For dessert, we split the apple strudel a la mode.
Everything was delicious. Perhaps it isn't the healthiest food on the planet, but it is very tasty. I particularly liked the spätzle, and have been researching recipes for it, though our waitress told me it's a bit of a hassle to make.
The proprietor checked on us as our meal was wrapping up, a nice touch, and we enjoyed a two-piece band, consisting of acoustic guitar and auto-harp, while we ate. Though they were literally right next to us, the volume was perfect. We could hear the Christmas carols they played, yet still converse with our dinner partners.
Overall, I really enjoyed the Rheinlander. As I said, I rarely go to Independence, but the next time I do, I'll be sure to visit this charming German restaurant again.