Schnitzel Garten

Eagle is a very interesting place to eat lately.  Unfortunately, my experiences with the restaurants that have been opening there recently has been mixed to negative, which is why I approached the grand opening weekend at Schnitzel Garten with fairly cautious optimism.  Opening a new restaurant is never easy and I expected some kinks, but this time I was rewarded with a truly great experience.



You shouldn't take that to mean that it was a perfect experience; there definitely were some kinks.  Some red tape issues kept beer and wine from being available for the opening weekend (which seems to happen fairly often to new restaurants in the Boise area), and a German restaurant without beer is a little odd.  We did briefly consider rescheduling our reservation, but in the end decided that it was worth checking out anyway.  After all, two liters of lager in a giant glass boot could certainly make it more difficult to judge the food on its own merits.

We showed up a little early for our reservation but needn't have worried, there were a fair amount of seats available.  Interestingly enough,  the seating consists entirely of picnic tables.  Comments on their Facebook page indicate that some four-tops should be coming shortly for those of you who don't want to chance sharing a table with strangers.  We chose to sit outside on the patio since we got there during one of the windows of time when it wasn't raining.  I'd debated between a few of the menu options, but in the end it made the most sense to try the restaurant's namesake.  When it comes to schnitzel, the options are veal, pork and chicken.  They are available with a variety of different sauces and toppings, and aside from some of the special menu items they are the priciest thing offered, with the pork or chicken Wiener Schnitzel being the cheapest at $16. 

I was most curious about the veal (it is the traditional, after all), but without knowing if their veal is free-raised and not feeling like having that conversation, I opted for the pork Zigeuner Schnitzel, which is served with a bell pepper and paprika sauce.  The schnitzels come with a cucumber salad and a choice of fries or spaetzle; I chose the pasta.  The roommate was in one of her non-meat moods, so she picked the Käse Spätzle (a much larger portion of the aforementioned pasta with the additions of Gouda and bacon bits), and a small Jäger Salat.  One of the highlights of the night was when she asked that the mushrooms be held, which confused our waitress since apparently it's the mushrooms that are the featured ingredient of the salad.  We all got a good chuckle out of it after she explained.  Alcohol not being an option, the roommate chose water to accompany her meal, while our waitress talked me into trying the apfelschorle, a popular German soft drink made by mixing apple juice and sparkling mineral water.  We were told that they were making a fresh batch of pasta and it could hold up our meal by half an hour or so.  No hardship with the weather being so nice, but beer definitely would have helped the time slip by.

Bretzel with sweet mustard

Instead, we were brought our respective no-octane beverages and a fresh pretzel to share, and we both fell in love with the coarse sweet mustard that accompanied it.  My soft drink reminded me of a non-alcoholic hard cider, if that makes sense.  I wouldn't ever have a glass of apple juice with a meal as it tends to be a little overwhelmingly sweet, but the sparkling water tamed it to a pleasant and manageable level.  As we tore and dipped, one of the restaurant workers stepped out on the patio and had a long phone conversation in German, adding to the atmosphere and prompting my roommate to complain that she wants to visit Europe again.

Our waitress, quickly endearing herself to us through her extremely personable manner and her obvious passion for the food she is serving, popped back by to advise that they had run out of pork.  Before I even had a chance to consider my options, she offered to substitute the veal schnitzel for the same price.  Choosing to take this as a sign from the Universe, though I don't really believe in such things, I accepted her offer and asked her to change it to Wiener Schnitzel as well.  I figured that if I was going the veal route, I might as well enjoy it in its simplest presentation.  It's a move that is probably going to get me slapped across the face by at least one close friend, but anything worth having is worth suffering a little for, right?

Not-quite Jäger Salat

Maybe it was the good company and the relaxing vibe, but it certainly didn't seem like we waited half an hour for our food.  The roommate's salad was a lovely selection of veggies tossed in house dressing, though if this is their small salad then the large one must be meant for sharing. 

Käse Spätzle

The pasta, on the other hand, was every bit as dense and rich as the salad was light and refreshing.  It's obviously made fresh but still retains a lot of texture, and what isn't enhanced by the adding bacon and melted cheese to it?  The roommate was only able to put down a little over half of this, and as tasty as it was she said she probably wouldn't order it again due to it being such a heavy dish.  It's very good, but it works better as a side than as an entrée.

Wiener Schnitzel

You can't really tell from the picture, but my dinner consisted of a LOT of food.  Both of us dug the cucumber salad, which was literally swimming in a delicious dill dressing.  I really enjoyed the spaetzle, even without cheese and bacon.  There was a bit of chicken flavor in it so I'm guessing some broth is used in the preparation, and it made a refreshing change from the starch options that are usually served with a dish like this.  As for the schnitzel itself, this was it in its truest form, accompanied only by a slice of lemon to add a little acidity.  A large piece of meat, surprisingly crispy around the edges yet tender and moist in the middle, I was perfectly happy with it.  That having been said, I think I'd be just as happy with the pork, especially if a sauce were brought into the equation.  Plus, I wouldn't feel guilty.

Somehow I cleaned my plate (necessitating a nap a little later on), and the roommate hit the wall around the same time, asking for a container to take the rest of her dinner home in.  We had originally discussed hitting up Brewforia on the way home so we could at least end our evening with some German beer, but I got distracted by a waitress bringing coffee to the table next to ours and suddenly decided we needed to split a dessert.  It must have been that coffee sounded good with the evening coming on and the temperature dropping, because I almost never push to order dessert.  Even the roommate was surprised.  And I have to admit, I just didn't want to leave the place.  Everything was just plain good there.  When our waitress returned, we ordered a piece of apfelstrudel to split and a coffee for each of us.

Apfelstrudel

I'm a little picky when it comes to restaurant coffee since I take mine black, and I was very happy with what I was served here.  The strudel itself was nicely browned, the outer layers so light and crispy that putting a fork to them made a sound like walking in Autumn leaves.  The apples were sliced thin enough that there was no danger of them being undercooked, and the whole was garnished with a custardy vanilla sauce and powdered sugar.  We tore through dessert in fairly short order, finishing just as it began to rain again.

I will return to Schnitzel Garten, soon and fairly often if I have my way.  I've already chosen the Curry Wurst (there's my street food fixation again) as the next item on my "must try" list, and with the beer situation set to be sorted out by Wednesday, I just might make it back this week.  These are great people sharing their brand of honest, traditional food with us.  I look forward to giving them my support, and I hope you will too.

Food:  If you've ever wanted to try German food and wished we had it here, this is the real deal.  A
Value:  The schnitzel will be seen as a little pricey by some, but there are less expensive options as well.  A-
Service:  Pretty much the entire staff is friendly, funny and enthusiastic.  A+
Atmosphere:  I love the patio, but the inside is nice too.  Can't wait to see it with everyone drinking. A
Final Grade:  A


2 comments:

  1. We have been looking for good German food and thought that this place would give us that. But after reading the reviews, I think we will pass. A German restaurant without fried potatoes misses the boat completely! My favorite dish is Jaeger Schnitzel and I feel that it can be a measure as to how good the other food will be. Why don't they just call this Country Fried Steak if they use a white sauce. They might as well put country sausage in it! Like another reviewer stated, if it isn't a dark beefy tasting sauce then it is NOT Jaeger Schnitzel!!! If I wanted a variety of "hot dogs" with fries then I might try this place. But for traditional German food I won't go to this expense for dishes that are absolutely NOT authentic!!

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    1. You know, this seems to be a love it or hate it kind of place for most people, and that's fine. People have different tastes. But I bristle a little when people speak with false authority about a place they haven't tried themselves. Do an image search for jaeger schnitzel, and you'll find a fair number of pictures with a cream-based sauce used. Search for a definition, and you'll generally find that it's a schnitzel covered in mushroom sauce or mushroom gravy, which leaves a LOT of room for interpretation. We're not talking about Philadelphia here, where people can't even come to a consensus regarding what makes an authentic cheesesteak, we're talking about an entire country of over 80 million people. How many restaurants do you think serve jaeger schnitzel in Germany? How many people make it at home? Do you think they're all using the same recipe? Is it possible right now that someone in Germany is complaining that they went to an American restaurant, and the meatloaf they ordered wasn't authentic because it wasn't covered in ketchup?

      As far as the "hot dogs" go, Schnitzel Garten sources their sausages from a local producer, tailored to their specific recipes. Diners have a choice of sides, and yes fries are on that list. The only direction given on the menu is that currywurst, arguably the most famous of German street foods, is traditionally served with fries.

      If you don't want to try the place then don't try it, but just because a dish isn't your preferred version, it doesn't mean that it's not authentic.

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