Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Old Heidelberg

The Oktoberfest is a sixteen-day festival held each year in Munich, Bavaria, Germany that has been held since 1810. I was amazed to learn that Oktoberfest was actually in September, held until the first Sunday in October. Having been to the real Oktoberfest a few years ago, I have not been impressed with most of the German food I have tried here in the United States. In honor of this fine German holiday, I set out looking for some real German food. Enter the Old Heidelberg, a Mom and Pop establishment that has become a landmark on SR 84 in Broward County. The Old Heidelberg was recently sold to new owners, although the original owners still own the deli located next door to the restaurant and still supply them with their Würstel (sausages).

The decor in the restaurant makes you feel as if you are in Munich as soon as you walk through the door. Lederhosen, German Dirndl Dresses, Cuckoo Clocks, Folk Music, Nutcrackers, and Steins are all here. So far, so good. While we waited for our table, we grazed at the bar. They had no less than ten authentic German Biers on draft. We settled on a traditional Bavarian Hefeweizen or Hefeweißbier in German. This is a nice light wheat beer with yeast. The beers come in two sizes, big and bigger. The beer is good. There is an accordion player and a dance floor where the kinder (children) supply live entertainment by doing a traditional German Folk Dance.

After being seated, we started with an appetizer of their Sausage Sampler Platter with Bratwurst, Knockwurst, Kielbasa, Thüringer and an order of Marinated Herring in Sour Cream. The sausages were served with Mustard and German Potato Salad. The sausages were delicious and cooked well. The mustard has a slight kick to it, and the potato salad was clearly homemade and delicious. The herring was good, it was minced into pieces I thought were a bit too small and lacked onions. The sausages were the clear winner here. Equally interesting are their soups. The German staple, Potato Soup, is served in a cup or a bowl and is worth a taste. Also of note is their liver dumpling soup, it's unique and tasty. A basket of fresh German breads are gratis and taste as if they were flown in from Germany daily.

The main courses are a very tough decision at the Old Heidelberg. The standout above the rest are the schnitzels. They offer "Wiener Schnitzel" Pan fried in Butter, Red Cabbage, and Potato Salad, "Holstein Schnitzel" Anchovies and Egg, Red Cabbage, and Potato Salad, "Paprika Rahm Schnitzel" Red and Green Peppers, Sour Cream Sauce, Rice, and Red Cabbage, and "Jäger Schnitzel", Mixed Mushroom Sauce, Spätzle, and Red Cabbage. They also have an excellent Beef Stroganoff, Sausage Plates, Lamb, and of course, Pork including an excellent Schweinhaxe (Roast Pork Shank). All come with choice of sides: Spätzle, Red Cabbage, Sauerkraut, Rice, or Mashed Potatoes. I strongly recommend the Spätzle, which is like a German pasta dish. I also recommend the Jäger Schnitzel for rookies of German food. They have a huge menu, there will be something for everyone here, it makes a great family restaurant.

By the time you are done with your main course, desert seems as impossible as improbable. However, they do offer Fresh Baked Apple Strudel and Schwarzwälder (Black Forest Cake).

A few notes about The Old Heidelberg, during Oktoberfest on the weekends, you must have a reservation. If you walk in you will be relegated to the bar area or if you are lucky to a rear isolated room usually for private parties. The service is friendly but slow. Plan on spending a few hours with a large group, they are in no hurry to get you out, the place is packed on the weekends.

I thoroughly enjoyed myself at the Old Heidelberg. I have had enough bad German food to last me a lifetime. While dining at Old Heidelberg, I felt as f I were in Munchen (Munich) walking along the Marienplatz. For those who are a fan of German cuisine, the Old Heidelberg is a breath of fresh air. For those not experienced, it is an eventful introduction to a new cuisine, and culture not often portrayed properly or positively. Give the Old Heidelberg a try you will be impressed.

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