28 April 2009

I haven't done a restaurant review for a long time, but on a recent trip to Chicago we ate at a couple of places that I just had to blog about.

On Sunday evening, April 19th we ate at the Edelweiss Restaurant in Norridge, Illinois.  We were actually on our way to a Polish buffet-style restaurant, but we drove by this one and decided to stop here instead.  I was a bit concerned that I was under dressed in my Cardinals t-shirt and jacket (our baseball game got rained out and that's all I brought with me to wear), Jim said it was fine, so we headed inside.

When you walk in, there is a bar on the left and the dining room on the right.  We walked up to the hostess by the dining room and she just looked at us and asked, "Can I help you?"  She caught me totally off-guard because I had never been asked that by a hostess before.  I stammered, "We want to eat." and she showed us to a table.  What was that about?  It was either that she thought we were horribly under dressed or because she wasn't used to seating people under the age of 60.  There were lots of older people in there.  

So, I was feeling a bit uncomfortable because it was a bit nicer than I was expecting.  It had real cloth tablecloths, real flowers in vases on each table, and pretty nice silverware.  There was a live band playing, which was nice, but it was a bit loud.  

Our waitress wasn't very friendly.  At first I thought it was because we were under dressed.  But then later I started to think that's just how she is.  Not totally sure.  

The menu is all German dishes except for a section called "Best of the World."   We both picked German dishes, though.  Here's what we ordered:

I ordered:

Schweinemedallions (Hohenzollern) 17.99
Juicy pork tenderloin medallions sautéed and
topped with our creamy mushroom cognac sauce.

Jim ordered:

Sauerbraten (Lippe-Schaumburg) 16.95
Braised sirloin marinated in herbs, spices and red wine.
Topped with our own sweet and sour sauce.

The words in parentheses is the region of Germany in which the dish is native.  We both chose the same sides: German fries and spätzle.  

I was a bit surprised by the prices of the entrees, but hey, it was my birthday (the next day) and it probably wasn't any more than we would pay for a hot dog, jumbo pretzel, and soda at the ballpark anyway.  And I have to say it was much better!  My pork was so incredibly tender and moist.  I almost didn't even need a knife to cut it.  And the mushroom sauce was fantastic!  The flavor was just perfect, not too salty and the cognac wasn't overpowering at all.  And it didn't contain inexpensive white button mushrooms either.  I don't know for sure what kind they were, but they were some kind of fancy mushroom.  So delicious!  Jim really enjoyed his sauerbraten too.  I tried a bite.  Sweet and sour isn't something I usually enjoy, so I wasn't too crazy about it.  But he really likes sweet and sour stuff and he said this dish was fantastic.  

I really liked the German fries.  They are basically fried potato slices.  Can't go wrong with that!  They were perfectly seasoned.  Jim really liked the spätzle, but I didn't.  They are like little dough things.  To me they tasted like soggy bready things.  Not a fan.  But that's what spätzle is; it's not that the restaurant's were made poorly or anything.  

Oh, and I forgot to mention the appetizers.  We got bread and butter on the table and each entree came with either soup or salad.  Jim ordered the soup of the day: split pea.  He really liked it.  I took a taste.  Now, I have never had split pea soup before, but it just tasted like pureed peas to me.  Maybe that's how it is supposed to taste; I don't know.  In any case, I was glad I ordered the salad instead.  I ordered it with bleu cheese dressing, and man, did I get bleu cheese dressing!  The salad was served on a plate, and in the middle of the plate was the biggest glob of dressing I have ever seen on a salad!  I really should have taken a picture of it!  It was like a mountain of dressing!  Now, I am a huge fan of salad dressing and usually use more than I should.  But this was too much even for me!  It was really good dressing; it certainly wasn't Kraft.  It had a great flavor and a nice mild tang to it.  It was much better than anything you could buy in the grocery store.  But I could have used half, if not less, of it.  And I was quite surprised to find an extra charge for it on my bill!  I have never seen an extra charge for salad dressing!  Granted, it was only a dollar, but still!  Maybe they wouldn't have to charge extra if they didn't serve an entire jar of it with each salad!  (To the restaurant's credit, it is listed in the menu.  I didn't see it until I saw the menu online after I got home.  I had just asked the waitress for their dressing selections when I ordered the salad.)

We didn't order dessert; we were way too stuffed from our delicious entrees.

So, in the end, even though the service wasn't great and the decor was a bit cliche, and it was filled with loud old people, I would definitely go back just for the food.  It was the best restaurant meal I had eaten in a long time.  Well worth the price, I think.  (The whole tab wasn't bad since we drank water and skipped dessert.)

So if you are in the Chicago area and have some time on your hands, stop by the Edelweiss!



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