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Black Forest Inn
Kale G: In an effort to expand our cultural milieu, we here at DWPF decided it was time to broaden the reach of our palates, and spear something new on the ends of our fancy forks. Often we have sampled the fares of the United States, Mexico, and Asia, while one of the greatest continents for the cultural smorgasbord of culinary prowess has remained largely untouched. It seemed to us that we had done this landmass a great disservice, only turning in a paltry two reviews that would touch that venerable estate. That’s right, with the diversity and gastronomical possibilities beckoning, we decided it’s time to set our taste buds to ‘European’. Specifically, German.
As my wife once said, “Ah, German. The only language in which ‘Have a nice day’ sounds like ‘Let’s invade Poland’.”
Phil B: [laughing] Nope, not too soon -- I almost choked on my food when you said that. Too funny!
KG: Good German fare is hearty, rich, and probably very, very bad for you. Full of meat, meat, and possibly more meat, the Germans like their plates heaped with herbivores, and vegetarians need not apply. A land of warm beer and fast cars, Germany is teeming with unusual and unique dishes, most of which are in the form of sausage.
In short: a carnivore’s delight.
PB: I suppose I could adjust to their lifestyle. Beer. Bratwurst. BMWs. What’s there not to like?
KG: Facist regimes?
PB: Well, there is that...
KG: Off we went again to Eat Street, to the Black Forest Inn.
We arrived to a mostly empty lunchroom and were quickly seated. We searched about us for this week’s religious icon, but the best we could was this guy:
Okay, so he’s no deity, but he’s at least a religious man, or a cut-out thereof, so we’re going to go to the ump and say he’s good, if just this side of the foul line. I’m not quite sure why there’s a cardboard cut-out of a monk in the room, but ours is not to question why, ours is just to eat!
PB: Dunno, I thought the monk was a pretty weak entry in DWPF’s Best Deity contest. Maybe we should suggest that they install something with a little more street cred, i.e. a burning bush or perhaps a pillar of fire.
KG: The waitress took our orders; I got the pork shank, and Phil got the sauerbraten. A bit of German for you here: sauerbraten means, “Let’s invade Poland”.
No, wait, it means ‘Sour Beef’. Damn, my wife’s right – all German does sound the same. Sauerbraten is beef that’s been marinated in vinegar and seasonings, cooked kind of like a pot roast. I’m a huge fan of sauerbraten – I love sour foods, and this is one of the best. It’s tender, and tingles as it rolls across the tongue, filling your mouth and sinuses with a vinegary tang. It’s usually served with spaetzel, which is a particular delight all its own. Spaetzel are egg noodles (really more of a mini-dumpling) that soak up whatever flavor you soak them in (default: butter). The gravy that comes on sauerbraten in particular is a perfect combo for these little treats, and well recommended.
PB: This was my first time trying sauerbraten and spaetzel. Mmmm, dies ist eine gute! Laßt uns invade Polen!
KG: Wait... what... nah...
The pork shank’s pretty good too. It’s served drowned in gravy, and is a pretty tasty treat. On the menu it comes with mashed potatoes, but I asked for spaetzel instead, but due to a little mix-up I got mashed potatoes and spaetzel! Who wants a starchy treat, huh? I do! I do! The mashed potatoes are good, for restaurant mashed potatoes. I’ve never really found a place that makes mashed potatoes anywhere near as good as the stuff we get when we make ‘em at home, so the fact that these are decent isn’t bad at all. Still, I only picked at the potatoes while I downed the spaetzel double-time. What can I say? I know what I like. The pork’s good and tender, full of moist and juicy goodness, and the gravy is hearty, but the shank kind of succumbs to an American issue with gravy, and I’m not sure if it’s a German problem too. When we add gravy to a dish we seem to think the flavor of the dish should be ‘gravy’, rather than the gravy being an accent to the meat. I’ve done it when cooking too, so I’m as guilty as anyone, but I still think they could have eased off a little and been fine.
PB: Yep, this was one of the rare times that I preferred what I ordered over Kale’s choice. I liked the pork shank well enough, but it seemed kinda bland compared with the savory, vinegary goodness of the sauerbraten. And the spaetzel, well, let’s just say that it’s a perfect companion for the sauerbraten. Next time I’m gonna order the same thing and wash it all down with a few mugs of Paulaner Oktoberfest-Märzen. That would definitely qualify as four-tine dining.
KG: At the end of the day, I’m torn on the Black Forest Inn. I love spaetzel, and I think they have the best in the Twin Cities. Their sauerbraten is likewise top of class, but the pork shank’s a little weak for my tastes – don’t get me wrong, it’s good, but I like my pork a little less drowned – unless we’re talking barbecue. So here’s how I’m calling it: sauerbraten and spaetzel, four tines. Pork shank, two and a half. We’ll look for an average and call the whole mess at three and a quarter (I think that’s our first quarter tine rating… frankly, I’m looking forward to the first sixteenth-tiner…). Black Forest Inn is a good and hearty meal, and if you go for dinner you occasionally get lucky and can hear the big German parties singing drinking songs. Recommended.
Um, sorry...anyway, I highly recommend the schnitzel. [Insert Sheriff Bart/Lili von Schtupp joke here] It's every bit as good as the schnitzel I had in West Germany, back when there was a West Germany.
Seriously, their schnitzel is good stuff.
As for what I did order, I actually prefer the pork shank at the Glockenspiel in St. Paul, but we weren't there. Live and learn - and like I said, BFI has the best spaetzel I've had anywhere.