It's almost time for Oktoberfest, so it's time for me to have my German food for the year. I thought about Ambry, but they stop serving at 2 and it's just a pain to get there early. So Old Heidelberg it is.
Unlike Ambry, Old Heidleberg is always open. 8 days a week, as the sign says.
I'm not sure if that was a typo that they decided to keep, or if it's some sort of wry joke, but you get the idea.
There were actually other people here today, usually I dine alone in the big room. They've moved from the blue to red napkins; otherwise everything is as it's been for the last 20 years.
Unlike the Octoberfest last night, you can get German beer here. I'm not drinking during the day these days.
Old Heidelberg Beer Selection
I pondered the Hungarian Goulash, but decided on the Sauerbraten, which is served with a dumpling and red cabbage. Still no Splenda for the Iced Tea although they do have bendy straws. I didn't get any rye bread, just white; The German experience is dwindling.
Music is festive, with Elvis mixed in with a lively rendition of Schneewalzer. The food came out shortly.
Old Heidelberg Sauerbraten
Filling the plate with gravy is a German thing that my family never bought into; the big issue with this dish is that I didn't like the gravy. It was too sweet; is sugar an ingredient in gravy? The beef was cut from a loaf resulting in rounds of equal width that reminded me too much of deli meat. The dumpling was completely flavorless, like a ball of flour. The bad gravy didn't help it.
Old Heidelberg Dumplng
The cabbage was too sweet also; I actually like vinegar with cabbage. It was edible but I don't like sugar in my food.
The thing with Authentic German food is that everyone has a different recipe; it's more like a nation of Mom cookers than a nation of chefs. This is the worst meal I've had at this place by a wide margin. Good gravy can make all of the difference to everything on the plate. Bad gravy ruins everything.
While this place looks like an abandoned building, when you step inside you can see years of accumulated memories.
Old Heidelberg Entrance
The place is set up like your grandmother's dining room; it's very different from every place else in town.
Old Heidelberg Inside
My last time here I had potato pancakes and a bratwurst; today I was having some schnitzel. The Wiener Schnitzel lunch is $9.95. I got an iced tea (no beer today) and they give you some bread. The German rye bread isn't bad, but I prefer a Jewish Rye myself.
Old Heidelberg Bread Service
They don't have yellow here, which is always an annoyance. In NY I used to bring my own, but no jackets down here, so I had to use regular sugar. It didn't take long for the food to come out. It's a fast lunch here.
Old Heidelberg Wiener Schnitzel
The veal is pounded very thin to create a visually large cutlet, breaded evenly and fried. The red cabbage isn't the kind you get at a Las Olas restaurant; this is authentic german stuff; not too sweet, it's slightly pungent and pairs beautifully with the mashed potatoes. It's a nice dish.
The food at Old Heidelberg reminds me of eating at my relative's homes when I was a kid; German food is like that. Everyone has a different recipe. It's not like my Grandmother used to make, but it's a nice change of pace from the usual crab cakes and calamari. You know for certain that there's an old German in the kitchen making food for you the way they do for their family.
If you didn't know better, you'd think that this was an abandoned building. During the day there might be 2 cars in the back. But when you go inside you can tell that this place has been here a long time; the thick decorations are layered like an old garage; there's just stuff upon stuff that's accumulated over time. They have a big bar area, and a large dining room with lots of wooden booths.
After my adventure at the Bierhaus the other day, I wanted to regain some confidence in German Food. I've also been thinking about potato pancakes, Bierhaus didn't have them. Potato Pancakes were something my Grandmother and Mom used to make from scratch when I was a kid; making a mess of the kitchen but well worth the work in the end.
"Old World" is the decor inside this place. You'll easily forget that you're right on route 84 when you're inside. There's boisterous German music, and they're already getting all excited about Oktoberfest.
I know that they serve the potato pancakes with both apple sauce and sour cream, so I figured since I have no interest in apple sauce if I ordered it with sour cream that they might bring me some extra, but they're pretty set in their ways. It comes the way it comes. I could tell by looking at them that they knew what they're doing.
Old Heidelberg Bratwurst, Potato Salad and Kraut
Now this was more like it. After that foul stuff they served at Bierhaus, this potato salad was more competently made. It had a bit of bacon, just enough sweetness. It was a bit wetter than I like, but it was good. The sauerkraut was real German Kraut; not the stuff you get on a hot dog at the ball park. This was balanced with sugar; just enough; it's not really sour. The bratwurst was a good quality. Is $6.95 too much for 1 bratwurst? Maybe, but this is a restaurant and not a sausage stand.
The food at Old Heidelberg reminds me of eating at my relative's homes when I was a kid; German food is like that. Everyone has a different recipe. It's not like my Grandmother used to make, but it was pretty good. You know for certain that there's an old German in the kitchen making food the way they do for their family.