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This is most likely the closest I’ll get to Oktoberfest this year

A new German restaurant recently opened in our neighborhood in Phoenix, which is to say a seedy old dive bar is attempting to reinvent itself with ethnic food and a better beer list. I enjoy a good schnitzel as much as the next red-blooded carnivore — and who doesn’t like beer served a whole liter at a time? — so Kathryn and I decided to give it a try for dinner last night. We figured we’d go on a weeknight just in case the food was truly awful, in which case all we’d miss out on was an evening of doing absolutely nothing at home.

Because Kathryn and I are both early risers — it’s 6 am as I start this post and we’ve both been up for three hours already — our weeknight dinners are obnoxiously early. We arrived at the restaurant at about 4:30 pm, at which time the only other patrons were at the bar. Other than German and Austrian flags hanging on the wall, the decor wasn’t particularly German. On the other hand, the bartender was wearing a dirndl, showing off her ample, tattooed chest. I, of course, didn’t notice.

Drinks first, naturally. Kathryn offered to drive, so I ordered a full-liter Hacker-Pschorr Oktoberfest, which was served in a large glass stein to make me feel like I was in the finest Munich biergarten. The beer was so bad I had to order a second immediately after I finished the first, just to be sure.

Then, of course, the food. We both ordered schnitzels, and although I’m a big fan of Wienerschnitzel, I let Kathryn order it this time while I ventured out and tried the Hühnerschnitzel — that’s chicken, by the way. Both were served with mashed potatoes and a cucumber salad. As is the case in Germany, the word “salad” seems to mean “one vegetable drenched in vinegar.”

As you can see from the photo, I was about halfway through the first beer when the food arrived.

My only complaint about the food, honestly, is that the mashed potatoes tasted powdered, although I actually quite like powdered mashed potatoes so it’s not really much of a complaint. The schnitzels were both prepared well, with light, crispy breading, and the garlic cream sauce went along quite nicely with the chicken. Even the cucumber salad was tasty. Washing it all down with an Oktoberfest beer made it that much better. Furthermore, the portions were correctly sized, neither too big nor too small. When the waiter suggested dessert, I was able to order that second beer while we mulled it over, rather than just holding our stuffed guts and brushing him off like we do in most area restaurants.

Eventually we did order dessert, a Bavarian cream cake, which we shared while working through the second beer. By this time, now about 6 pm, the dining area had filled up and the live accordion music began. I suspect there were as many people there for the entertainment as there were for the food and drink.

(Photo by KG7NRB.)

(Photo by KG7NRB.)

For what it’s worth, Kathryn and I were probably ten years younger than the median age of the patrons in the dining room last night, although the median age in the bar area was considerably lower. Like I said, though, it was a weeknight. Perhaps the crowd is younger on the weekends — or after 6:30 pm.

Verdict: We’ll be back. Was it Munich? Not quite, but they do appear to be working on a proper beer garden out back. I’d like to give that a try when the weather is nicer.