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Sunday, August 23, 2015

German in Texas: Feasting at Fritzl's

One of Kelly's team members is half-German. Since I have a bit of German in me, too, and grew up eating homemade saurkraut, we've had a good time talking about the German restaurants in our area.

Fritzl's is a favorite of hers - a true dive, but a very authentic Austrian-German dive. Earlier this month we finally had time to join her and her husband for a dinner.

Fritzl's is about a 30-minute drive for us and isn't much to look at from the outside. It's located in a typical tired suburban shopping strip. But this is where it's important to not judge a book by its cover.

The inside is very kitchy. Brightly painted walls are covered with memorabilia - signs, mottos and tons of dollar bills signed by previous customers. Our friend said that it reminds her of her grandfather's basement in Berlin. So there's that.

There are also only about seven tables. We got there shortly after it opened at 5 and were the third table seated. Within 15 minutes, there was a line from the bar to the front door. There are limited seats (3, I think) at the bar and a sofa that would seat about 3. If you don't grab one of those seats, you'll be standing as you wait.

Moral of the story: Get there early.

We started off with a pint (a full pint) of Spaten Oktoberfest.

Dinner was plated and served very quickly. This is fairly impressive since it seems that the owner/chef, Klaus Fritz, is a one-man show. He greets, he seats, he cooks, he serves, he clears and he collects payment. The night we were there he did have a teenager helping - a great kid who worked fast.

Our friends, who'd eaten there before, said that they believed he came in early to prepare most of the food except for the schnitzel, which doesn't take long to fry. If that's the case, the food doesn't taste like it's been cooked in advance - it's served hot and tastes very fresh.

I ordered the wiener jaeger - wiener schnitzel stacked and covered with cognac mushroom cream sauce. I chose my sides and went with saurkraut (served warm, tasted slightly sweet and not super-sour) and spaetzle (a type of dry pasta, so it's important to mix it with the sauce for best flavor). I could have ordered roasted potatoes in place of one of the sides. My husband had the potatoes and I wish that I'd ordered them instead of the spaetzle. It was good, but the potatoes were really really good. Consider that a lesson learned for next time.

My husband ordered the sausage and schnitzel - a weiner schnitzel, served with kielbasa and bratwurst with a dash of cranberry sauce. For sides he ordered saurkrat and spaetzle, but was served potatoes and spaetzle. A side of saurkraut was quickly delivered and in the end, we were happy for the error since it allowed us to taste the potatoes. They were (as I mentioned earlier) a winner.

Before dessert, we both ordered a shot of the homemade schnapps. Schnapps are a brandy steeped with fruit or vegetables. Our friends told us the schnapps is different every day. Ours was a slight pink color, having steeped with grapes and pineapple. It was delicious and now I want to try to make some of my own at home!

I realize this makes us little piggies, but we also ordered dessert. (Note: We only ate half of our dinners and took the other half home as leftovers!)

Kelly ordered the black forest cake. Klaus, the owner/chef, started his career as a pastry chef and his skill was evident. The black forest cake was moist and tender and delicious.

I ordered the Austrian cheese cake. The creamy (not too sweet) cheese layer was sandwiched between lemony tender cake. Yum, yum! I ate it all.

If you're looking for a place where the owner makes you feel super-important because there are only a few tables, go somewhere else. Klaus is busy making delicious food and serving his guests and may or may not have time to stop by to chat.

If you want to have a delicious dinner and could care less about touchy-feely service, you have to go to Fritzl's.

As for us, this is what we had to say after a very enjoyable hour-long dinner:

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