Thursday, July 23, 2015

A Quaint German Bistro

Pulling in to the blazing hot parking lot of a nondescript strip mall at 7115 Gulf Boulevard, St. Pete Beach, I don't think I had ever felt so far away from the cool, green countryside of Germany.

As soon as we stepped inside Sandra's German Restaurant we were transported back to a quaint German bistro similar to one we enjoyed in Idar Oberstein a few years ago.

We were immediately greeted by the very charming Ella who bade us to sit where we pleased, and machen schnell, dumpfkopf. Honestly, the lovely Ella never said that, but that is the only German I remember my Grandmother saying to my Grandfather ... on a regular basis. Since they were married for over fifty years, for the longest time I thought those were words of endearment. Silly me!

Ella suggested we start our Deutschland dining adventure with a couple bottles of an unfiltered Bayreuther Aktien Zwick'l Kellerbier. This lager pours a hazy amber color with medium white long-lasting head. The aroma is subtle and balanced with malty grains, bread and some slightly floral hops.

The Belle of Gulf Boulevard and I decided to share the appetizer Weisswurst mit Brez'n, two sausages with a salted German pretzel and a tub of sweet mustard. The sausages were savory and delicious with a delightful yet complicated flavor. Weisswurst is a traditional Bavarian sausage made from minced veal and pork back bacon. It is usually flavored with parsley, lemon, mace, onions, ginger, and cardamom, although there are some variations.

Weisswurst it is very perishable, so these sausages were usually made early in the morning and prepared and eaten as a snack between breakfast and lunch - there is a saying that the sausages should not be allowed to hear the noon chime of the church bells. At Sandra's they are made to order for any time of day, so there is a twenty minute wait until service. We passed the time with another bottle of lager.

As a side note, I later discovered that we had consumed the weisswurst incorrectly. These sausages are normally eaten without the casing by employing one of two traditional methods that I'll let you discover on your own. We ate it all, yet still enjoyed the experience.

Next came our included salads with iceberg lettuce, a sprinkling of corn kernels, a slice of tomato and a choice of dressing. There was nothing memorable but it served as a palate cleanser for the main event.

I chose the lumberjacks plate, the Holzfaeller Teller, with schweinsbraten, Muenchner schnitzel, bratwurst, with spaetzle and Bavarian potato salad.

This was a very hearty and tasty presentation. The potato salad was something of a cross between a German salad that I grew up with and the typical American style salad. The breaded cutlet was prepared as expected and the bratwurst was a juicy delight. The pork loin, sadly, was dry and tasteless because of its lack of fat which is typical here in America, where industrial pork production has bred all the taste out of pork.

Meine Frau fared well with her choice of Sauerbraten, sweet sour marinated Angus Beef with bread dumpling, spaetzle, and Bavarian red cabbage.

The beef was tender and juicy with just the right blending of sweet and sour. The cabbage, spaetzle, and bread dumpling were good even though the dumpling was a bit on the dry side for my bride's palate. 

We were both way too full to even consider dessert, although when Ella described the German Black Forest Cake, the Belle couldn't resist requesting an order to go for later consumption. Diners at an adjacent table commented that our lives would be totally incomplete without that cake to enrich our humble existence ... or something like that.

Dinner with more than two biers, and dessert came to a reasonable $89 and some change. We added a deserved 20% gratuity for Ella's excellent service.

The one thing that could have made our visit to Sandra's better would be the pork producers of America breeding in some of that flavorful fat they have been eliminating.

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