Turnabout: A German Restaurant in NC
So, I took some pretty abusive comments for my surprise at the non-Mexican Mexican food here in Erlangen.
I figured turnabout was fair play, so when the Lovely Ms. Mungowitz and I were in Wilmington, NC, and we espied the following sign, we knew it was kismet: You gotta admit; that has CONSIDERABLE culinary tragicomic potential. Not "Die Münchener" (Americans wouldn't know that meant "German"), or "Villy's" (I'm trying to keep with the Chilli's theme). A generic name: The German Cafe.
We go in. Beautiful old place (old for North Carolina, about 175 years for the main building, though it was a port facility until the 1930s) in the Cotton Exchange. Playing Beethoven (6th or 7th symphony, I don't know them well enough to distinguish) on a nice stereo system. (Technically, Beethoven only lived in Germany until he was 22, when he moved to Vienna. But Austrian music is better than "The Most Horrible Hits from the 70s, 80s, and Today" you hear in REAL German restaurants.)
I'm a little scared. The building itself, though, with the Beethoven playing softly, does much to settle me down. Check this: The LMM orders a salad (Oh, really?), but I have to try to sample the "German" part of the menu to see just how apocalyptic it is. Beer list: domestics? bottles? AAAAARGH! I order unsweetened iced tea. It comes....with ICE. This is no German place!
Except that then I see the actual beer list. A fine variety of actual German beers, on tap, including a very fine Hefe Weisse. I ordered the Wurst plate (going for the knockwurst), which comes with sauer kruat, kartoffelsalat, and bread, as you see on the menu...
The waitress, dressed in a modest dirndl, brings the food. Note that it looks quite tasty, that the side dishes actually LOOK like sauer kraut and potato salad, and the the Hefe Weisse is served in a proper Hefe Weisse glass, and is properly cloudy. Overall, a decent B. Any German who ate this meal would be disappointed (the bread was horrible, though it is standard American "brown" bread, soft, gummy, and tasteless), but not amazed. The knockwurst was quite good, the sauer kraut was that weak kind without spice, but with some rye seeds added, and the potato salad was just okay. BUT IT WAS A WURST, WITH KRAUT AND POTATO AND BREAD. That is a German meal, no matter how poorly executed. Further, the ham on the LMM's salad.... delightful fresh lettuce, and oh, the ham. German meats generally, and ham in particular, are just at a higher standard than the U.S. And this ham was genuinely first rate.
Finally, on the language question: the owner, and one employee, were both native German speakers. No repeat of the "pollo" incident here.
So, tote up the score: Hefe Weisse, wurst, and ham all very acceptable quality. Side dishes were mediocre, but at least they were the correct side dishes. Adding the watermelon slice was charming, an American touch. But it did not DISPLACE the correct side dishes (at the German Mexican restaurant, you may recall, the cabbage with mayo was presented INSTEAD of rice/beans/etc. that should accompany a Mexican meal).
Plus, The German Cafe had a nice tapestry of a fine German schloss, in a dark corner. The decor was legit. Like I said, solid B. American German beats German Mexican.