Monday, June 28, 2010

Local legend: The Rathskeller

Last Thursday, we took mom to see Jersey Boys at the Murat (yeah, yeah, I know it is now called the Old National Center or whatever). We wanted to get in a meal beforehand, but not be too rushed. We found great street parking very close, and so we walked over to the Athenaeum and ate at The Rathskeller. Living downtown and being a member of the YMCA located in the Athenaeum, we're pretty familiar with The Rathskeller. But, we don't go there to eat a lot. They serve big meals, and they are heavy meals for the most part. I can't speak for the quality of the beers, but if you are anywhere near the area on what seems to be any Thursday, Friday or Saturday night in the summer, there is a lively crowd enjoying live music in the biergarten those nights.

I call this entry a "local legend" because the Rathskeller seems to have that kind of cache to me. And, the Star just came out with a new Taste section in the print version, and they referred to St. Elmo's as a local restaurant icon.

Going to a German restaurant always reminds me of when I went to Germany with two of my best friends in our early 20s. I was perplexed then by the amount of sausage being consumed. Especially the odd looking white ones at breakfast time. And, I was also frustrated because I was following the ordering style of the one guy in the group that had some German language skill, and he raved about the schnitzel but always ordered it plain. I kept thinking - hasn't this country discovered sauces yet? And, of course, they had, I just wasn't asking enough questions about the menus.

We arrived just after 6 p.m. and many others also had chosen to eat at The Rathskeller before the musical. The place was jammed and we finally found a table in the bar since we did not have reservations. You can order from the full dinner menu back there, so that wasn't an issue. I really enjoy the feel of the dining and bar areas of the Rathskeller. The decor and setting seem very German, and the bar very much feels like it is from a hunting lodge, as we had this creature looking down on us.

The complementary bread basket is nice, especially the pretzel and the very spicy mustard that is included. Mom went with the schnitzel cordon bleu, and the Better Half had the jaegerschniztel. I ended up having the hot wurst platte. I am still not sure why I ordered that. Mostly, I wanted a bratwurst. But, ultimately this plate gives you 5 sausages. Neither my cardiovascular system nor my GI tract wanted or needed that. And, the odd thing is, I even kind of knew I wasn't crazy about their bratwurst. If I remember things correctly, I think Claus' German Sausage and Meats (just south of Fountain Square on Shelby) provides The Rathskeller with sausage. I've picked up meats from Claus' counter, and maybe this sounds so non-authentic, but I really enjoy a Johnsonville brat more than from the local butcher.

Look at this, though. I mean, that's just too much meat.

As I feared, I found the bratwurst kind of bland, and the bockwurst even worse. The keilbasse, though, was fantastic. And, I think the plate actually had two types of German weiners, and those are pretty tasty. I always enjoy red cabbage, and the sauerkraut was good, too.

The jaegerschnitzel, though, was fantastic. They do a very nice job on the pork in general, with a very tasty breading mix, and the pork was tender and juicy, even if you hadn't gotten a sauce. Mom's cordon bleu was very tasty too.

Overall, I think The Rathskeller is a winner. The meals are huge, filling and seem to be well prepared and true to their "nativity", though to me, they are a tad expensive.

The verdict: 4 belly rubs (out of 5) - schnitzels are winners.

Post Script: You know what amazed me the most about being at Oktoberfest in Munich? It was the waitresses walking around with so many full glass steins of beers. My forearms hurt just looking at them.

P.P.S: Now, my single favorite fun memory of Oktoberfest was when in one of the beer tents, the little Bavarian band started in on John Denver's "Take Me Home Country Roads". The crowd erupted, and hundreds of drunk Germans joined in singing. Wunderbar!
P.P.P.S: Oh. And, we really thoroughly enjoyed Jersey Boys. I was surprised to realize how much of the Four Season's music I did know. The pace was fast, lots of comedy, great talent on display, full and enthusiastic crowd. It's only in town for one more week, and it looks like the ticket sales were high, but if you have a chance it is a great show.

1 comment:

CorrND said...

Nice review. Just to add to things, Rathskeller's beer menu is extremely good. It's heavily skewed to European beers but that's not surprising at all. They have a small menu of standout American craft beers if that's what you're in the mood for -- but why, when there are so many amazing German and Belgian beers on the menu that are uncommon at other restaurants in town?!