A quick word association game would rarely have participants follow “cuisine” with Germany. While that probably won’t change anytime soon, one area restaurant is doing its part to convert diners. Old Bavaria, located on College Ave. across from Flanagan’s, provides traditional German cuisine for a hard-to-please German-American population. For those of you not from the area, Wisconsin is heavily populated by German and Austrian descendants who take food very seriously. Clearly, we’re all aware of beer and brats, but there is much more to experience and Old Bavaria is the place to do it.
A true German meal is not complete without some kind of alcohol, and picking your drink is a good way to decide what entre to order. Of course there is beer (which complements everything), but a unique Bavarian drink to try is gluhwein, a traditional hot spiced wine. Gluhwein is perfect for cold weather and is a nice alternative to beer, if not a little pricey at $4.25 a glass. Gluhwein seems a bit classier than beer, so if you chose this drink, you’ll probably want to pick a higher quality meal and keep in mind that it’s red wine.
If you just can’t pass on the brew, Old Bavaria offers draught beers (Warsteiner and Hacker-Pschorr Oktoberfest), as well as the typical domestic brands. Import beers from Ayinger Lager to Guinness are also available.
Having had my fair share of beer in the past, I chose the gluhwein, which was excellent. Last year, I spent a term in Vienna, Austria, and if my memory serves me correctly, there was a negligible difference between Old Bavaria’s gluhwein that of several restraints in Austria and Germany. My only recommendation is to not drink it too quickly. It’s mildly sweet and should be savored.
For dinner I had sauerbraten which is sliced prime rib marinated in sweet and sour sauce with red cabbage for $12.95. It came with sauerkraut soup. If you want authentic Bavarian food, this is the meal for you. While prime rib isn’t the best meat you can order, the marinade added tremendously to the flavor and complemented the cabbage very well. And being of both Irish and German descent, I can say with some clout that the sauerkraut soup is one of the best I have ever had.
The portion was much larger than one person should eat, so you’ll probably get two meals out of the dinner if you chose to take home leftovers. Or you can go for the true German experience and stuff yourself until you can’t see straight.
Overall, the dinner was very good and the atmosphere pleasant (casual enough for T-shirt and jeans, yet still comfortable). Our waitress was prompt and courteous, which is somewhat rare these days. For a moderately priced, authentic German meal, you won’t find a better alternative in the valley. Old Bavaria ist gut Essen!