Friday, February 09, 2007

It's a Hell of a Town...

We're leaving tomorrow for a few days of eating and shopping in New York. I promise to come back in a reasonable amount of time with stories about some really tasty things.

Also, I have 4 entries simmering that I don't have time to finish, but they are coming! I promise! I think tonight I'll try to get my very favorite new chicken recipe up before taking off.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Review: Restaurant Linderhof

Originally published in Cityview Magazine in October, 2006.

Ich Bin Ein Berliner (for one night at least)
The Bavarian delights at Restaurant Linderhof are worth the drive west

King Ludwig of Bavaria was known as both the “Fairytale King” and “Mad King Ludwig” by his people, and for good reason. His favorite pastime was building strange, elaborate castles with garish color schemes, which have become some of Germany’s most beloved tourist attractions. How peculiar and amusing then, to find a restaurant in the depths of West Farragut serving authentic German food and named after one of Ludwig’s beloved castles. After all, what better place for a restaurant inspired by the decorating tastes of a 17th century king than a forlorn strip mall on Kingston Pike?

Opening the main door into Restaurant Linderhof makes me feel a bit like Dorothy walking out into a Technicolor Munchkinland. Multiple chandeliers cast light upon gilded frame after gilded frame, vibrant royal blue walls, lavender chairs, the occasional miniature Christmas tree or chubby cherub…to be truthful it was a bit overwhelming. But, considering that the restaurant gets its inspiration from a German king who made Liberace look understated, it was a fitting and fun introduction to an authentic German restaurant with the charm of a lovingly decrepit Eastern European hole-in-the-wall.

We are quickly seated and I’m glad to find that there isn’t a wait—from what I hear, however, the restaurant does a brisk business and since they don’t take reservations you are risking a wait, especially on weekends. With cold weather making its way into town, you can be sure that people will be craving the sturdy, warming German fare that is featured.

The menu offers a few starters, including a grilled sausage platter for two and herring salad. I found myself most tempted by the Leberworst Brot ($6.75)—earthy, smooth goose liver pate spread thickly over a layer of butter on a hearty slice of German bread. Accompanied by a bit of gherkin and slice of raw onion, the dish was utterly lacking in pretension but satisfying. After doing some research, I found that the preparation is a very traditional one, but the cook in me couldn’t help but think it could be improved by toasting the bread for a texture boost.

There is a small but comprehensive German wine selection, as well as several Bavarian draft beers to choose from. I went with a glass of Jakob Demmer Reisling ($4.50). While sweeter than described by our server, this golden wine cut through the well-spiced richness of the pate wonderfully.

The salad platter that accompanies some entrees might throw novices for a loop, but it’s really quite good. Piled high with German-style potato salad, cucumber slices tossed with dill, lightly dressed cabbage salad, and lightly pickled red cabbage, I had only one complaint—a ubiquitous canned 3-bean salad that did not hold up against the fresher offerings.

On the evening of my visit, the soup of the day was a pleasant, mildly spicy white bean and vegetable offering. It was a warm and soothing contribution to a chilly evening, and was even better with a piece of hearty German bread with butter.

My dining companion decided on the Schweinshaxe ($21.75), a Fred Flintstone-worthy hunk of pork shank, slow cooked until falling off the bone, almost reminiscent of pot roast or pulled pork barbeque. Served alongside a mountain of delicious fried potatoes, there was enough left over for both of us to have lunch the next day.

I once lived in Eastern Europe, where I developed an unabashed love for Weiner Schnitzel ($23.75), so of course I couldn’t resist trying Linderhof’s version. They offer multiple varieties of schnitzel, but I went for the traditional—tender veal, crisp coating, sprinkled with lots of lemon and also accompanied by those fantastic fried potatoes.

Although we were beyond full and had enough leftovers to feed a small family, I felt it was my duty to try the Apple Strudel ($6.50)—see the sacrifices I make? Sadly, this dessert was utterly skippable with a viscous vanilla custard-like sauce, disappointingly soggy crust, but at least a tasty enough filling. Perhaps it was an off night for the strudel, but I would be shocked if you had the room for it after gorging on the numerous German delights offered. In fact, considering the hearty portions at Restaurant Linderhof, you might want to take advantage of the $3.50 plate-sharing fee, which thoughtfully comes with an extra soup of the day.

You are doing yourself a disservice if you’ve never ventured out to Restaurant Linderhof. It has its quirks to be sure, but it provides a rare opportunity to sample great German food right here in East Tennessee. Sure, some might call the service a little slow, but I prefer to think of it as “relaxed” and “European”. You’ll have plenty of time to enjoy, digest, and people watch—a rare treat these days.

Restaurant Linderhof
11831 Kingston Pike (in the Ingles Shopping Center)

5:00-9:30 Tuesday-Thursday
5:00-10:30 Friday-Saturday
closed Sunday and Monday

3.5 stars (out of possible five)