The Alpen Club. This place has been here forever on the corner of Victoria & 33rd. Ever since I was a kid, the place intrigued me. What is in there? How is the food? Well, my friend Polka King knows the place quite well. Not only has he eaten there countless times, he actually performs German music on Friday nights. Nothing unusual eh? Unless you think a German-singing Chinese musician is quite common. He claims to be the "sideshow" of the band. Actually, I think he's the sideshow of our hockey team; but that's another matter altogether... Finally, I got my chance to visit this mysterious place. Kim graciously took the responsibility of organizing a blogger's dinner at the Duetsches Haus at the Alpen Club. I gotta hand it to him, it was quite the turnout. Including myself, these people were in attendance:
Kim (I'm Only Here for the Food!), Joyce & Mr. (Vanfoodies), Jessica and Mark (Yum-O-Rama),
Victoria (Victoria's Food Secrets), Ethan (Tastes Better with Friends), Dee & Ann (Me Plus Food), Karl (The Friday Lunch), Jonathan (Food & Tell), Anita (La Petite Foodie), Yen (OMNOMics), Jenny & Ricky (My Secret Eden)
Although he had visited the Deutsches Haus before, all along, Kim has been wanting to share the Festplatte. Yes, it's quite excessive for one person to actually try this themselves. The darn thing is huge and is intended to serve 4 people. Hey, I'm game, a big plate of meat? Give it to me! Included in this platter were: 1 Eisbein, 2 Kassler, 2 Bratwurst, 2 Leberkäse, 1 Schweineschnitzel, mashed potatoes, dumplings, red cabbage and sauerkraut.
We'll start first with the Eisbein, which is a pickled ham hock. Smack dab and majestically in the middle of the platter, this big piece of pork was quite good. Probably braised for quite a long time, most of the meat was fall-off-the-bone tender and not as salty as you would think. A thick layer of fat kept the meat moist. Resting on top was the obligatory Schweineschnitzel. It looks exactly like a Wienerschnitzel but I'm pretty sure the difference is that the Schwinerschnitzel uses pork as opposed to veal. In this case, I really enjoyed the moistness of the meat. Simple item really; but good nonetheless. However, probably the best item on the plate was the Bratwurst. Yah, I know it's a sausage; but it was good. Meaty and flavourful, it went well with the provided mustard.
We weren't as enthusiastic about the Kassler, which is a smoke cured pork loin. I thought it was both dry and chewy. Due to the lean cut of meat, I am sure that it is almost unavoidable; but personally, it was not my favourite. On that note, I wasn't a big fan of the Leberkäse as well. Karl explained it is a type of meatloaf that resembles bologna. Honestly, he is bang on because both the flavour and texture was pretty close to it. No offense to bologna; but not a big fan of this. I'm sure many people do like it and it is by no means a poor reflection of the Duetsches Haus, it's purely personal preference. Continuing on the personally not liking theme, I really didn't care for the Dumplings. Again, I'm not sure if the dumplings were supposed to be the way they were; but I found them dry, hard and bland. As for the Mashed Potatoes and Red Cabbage, they were pretty standard. I thought the potatoes could've been a bit fluffier; yet then again, this is not French cuisine, so that may not be the norm. The red cabbage was pretty much similar to all the red cabbage I've had in the past, so not too much to comment about them other than that they were soft and slightly tart.
For $80.00, I found the Festplatte to be of pretty good value. Remember, other than the sides, the platter is all meat. It doesn't look like much in the pictures; but believe me, there is enough for 4 people. There were a few items that I personally didn't prefer; yet it may not be fair to pin it on the Deutsches Haus. After all, it could be that I'm more used to meat that is "just" barely cooked as in Chinese cuisine. Just like my experience at the Balkan House, the meats are generally well-done. If I had to compare schnitzel alone, I liked the one here over the Old Bavaria Haus and Balkan House since it was more moist and tender. I also liked the homey atmosphere of the place. Not many of these gems exist anymore since it is the trend to go upscale and modern. Overall, it was a good meal and I'd gladly comeback for more. Maybe next time it'll be a Friday night, so that I can catch Polka King in action!
- Decent portions
- Something a little bit different
- If you like meat...
- Not cheap
- Service is a bit indifferent
- If you don't like meat...