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Don Your Shortpants and Head to The Bavarian Lodge

November 27, 2007

“I don’t like food.  I love food.  If I don’t love it, I DON’T SWALLOW IT!!!”

– Anton Ego, Ratatouille

Here’s what I look for in a restaurant. 

1.  Something I am either too unskilled or too lazy to cook at home.  If I just paid $10-$20 for a meal I both could and would have made myself, I won’t be real pleased.

2.  Unique flavor pairings.  I would not have come up with a dish titled, “The Chocolate Duck*.”  Nope.  Not in a million years.  But it worked.  Actually, it was wonderful.

3.  A clear sense of purpose.  I like a restaurant to have a purpose, and a commitment to that purpose.  A particular ambiance they are creating, or a specific feeling they are working to evoke in their customers.  If I feel a strong enough purpose, I succumb to it completely, and that is how memories are made.

4.  A great time.  This could mean very good, cheap food with friendly but kinda lousy service (Nona Mia).  It could mean pricey food brought to me by people who remember me from last time I ate there four months ago (La Caterina Trattoria).  Or it could be an outdoor cafe after work on Friday with a nice view and some high-priced wine (Sante).  It could mean a late night of diner food with dear friends (51 Grill).  This is a precarious and obviously highly subjective category, but true nonetheless.   

The Bavarian Restaurant and Beirgarten in Weaverville takes the gold medal in all four categories.  We were greeted immediately by the infamous “Doc,” a jaunty man donning lederhosen and oddly spaced facial hair.  Music from the Griswalds European Vacation echoed around the homey lodge.  After requesting a booster seat and a menu, my two-year-old nephew was promptly outfitted with both by the cheery and flushed waitress-maiden.  The beer selection at this treasure trove is incredible.  Really, you could have a great time simply ordering appetizers and beer and skip the ridiculously heavy entree portion of the meal. 

I ordered a refreshingly crisp glass of their Pinot Grigio (I forget the name) and most of us ordered the juicy Hefeweissen they had on tap.  How can beer be juicy?  Only a wheat beer drinker knows the answer to that question.

The bread and butter flat-out schooled Bouchon’s bread and butter and now holds the crown for best bread and butter mini- course in town.  The bread was powdery, hard and crusty on the outside, melty and soft on the inside, and the herb butter tasted salty and decadently evil.  We ordered their potato pancakes and pate as our apps.  The potato pancakes were definitely well-made, and confounded our Russian-Jewish tongues with their perfectness.  The pate tasted hearty and strong, but I found myself wishing they had better crackers to serve alongside the meaty dip.  Generic wrapped wheat crackers reminded me of appetizers on the coffee tables of the mid-eighties, and I thought something a little crisper would have done the trick. 

Although most of us were nearly full by the time our entrees arrived, we were nonetheless presented with various shnitzels, a goulash, and different flavored bratwursts.  On top of that we received a sticky-sweet and congealed red cabbage concoction, made with sugar and vinegar and what were once apples.  I could have done without this innocuous side, but some of our party appreciated its presence.  Along came the spatzel (toasted thick egg noodle/nuggets is the best way to describe these delights) and Vienna salad, which was nothing more than tomatoes and red onion in red wine vinegar. 

The weiner shnitzel was simple and phenomenally fried, somehow both crispy and fluffy and soaked in the lemon slice just right.  I thought the goulash (beef tips spiced with paprika) had the perfect amount of heat and the beef was deliciously tender, just as I had hoped it would be.  Unfortunately, by this point I was full to near-illness and didn’t have the chutzpah to try the other dishes. 

The Bavarian Restaurant and Beirgarten  is wonderfully kid-friendly and creates a hilarious, quirky, inventive vibe making it a lovely evening with friends or family.  I suggest you try it soon, and don’t forget to read about the wonders of Himalayan rock salt!  You’ll never be the same. 

*The Chocolate Duck is not a menu at The Bavarian Restaurant and Beirgarten, but at a restaurant in Waynesville who’s name I can’t remember right this second. 

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