Last week there was one evening in the Kensington neighbourhood of Vancouver that was extremely brightly lit. That was the night when a large group of fellow food bloggers got together for a meal at the Vancouver Alpen Club (Deutsches Haus), with their cameras and flashes in tow.
There was a group of close to twenty of us who were able to dine together this time around, and Kim (I’m Only Here for the Food!) helped to organize everyone to try something a bit different. I think the idea originally came up during another dinner last month, at the Maple Grill, when some of us were discussing where to get a good Schnitzel and other German food in the Lower Mainland. So off we went!
Upon arrival, I noticed how large the inside of the building was, complete with a full dining area, a dance hall upstairs (where people appeared to be taking Latin dance lessons of some type), and a back room that was made into a handy card game area that evening. Along the way, there was a trophy case containing numerous awards (I didn’t look closely at what they were for), a long bar down one side, and another showcase with t-shirts and other swag for sale. It was definitely an interesting mix.
After being seated, most of us noticed that there was a share platter available (for four), and since it was the dish with the most variety, almost the entire table decided to jump in. It was the $80 Festplatte that would take 30 minutes to prepare (as per the menu), and it had more meat than most groups could probably eat. But to me, it was just plain beautiful.
Most of the dish was served on a single platter, while the sides were prepared and brought to the table individually. I also ordered the Spaetzle to round things off, which I’ve had home-cooked quite a few times more recently, and even have the pasta maker at home for times when I’m feeling ambitious. This version was topped with some fresh parsley and butter.
Another side, that had a sheen that could only be from plenty of lard, was the Red Cabbage. This was quite tasty, but also very rich. Partway through this meal, I was hoping that my stomach could handle it and not leave me sleepless with indigestion. There was also sauerkraut served on the meat platter, and that was delicious – I kept going in for more, until there was nothing left.
The Mashed Potatoes, on the other hand, were a bit dry for my liking. Again, they were topped with fresh herbs and salt and pepper, with a bit of butter, but I didn’t take much more than my initial spoonful or two, as I didn’t want to fill up on them with so much else still on its way.
The final side, the Dumplings, were a bit more of a mystery to most of us. I only think one or two people thought they were okay, but most of these were left to the wayside by the end of our dinner. They were doughy and dry and just didn’t have a great texture or flavour. It probably didn’t help that by the time we noticed their presence, they had gotten a bit cold.
Now on to the heartiest parts of our meal – the meat platter.
One of my favourite items was the Schweineschnitzel, and I was pleased with the moistness of the pork, and the flavours within the crisp breading, aided by the fried onion shreds over top.
I also really enjoyed the Eisbein, or pork hock, that took up the majority of the plate. It was covered with plenty of crackling, and I think I turned those around me off of meat just a little bit, as I dug in and kept eating more (the Asians at the table didn’t seem to mind though ;)). The hock was so moist and practically melted in my mouth.
The Kassler, or smoked and salted pork fillet, was a bit on the dry side however. I didn’t have too much of this, and couldn’t really handle it without gulping down a lot of water to help it on its way.
The Bratwurst sausages were delicious, with a bit of the spicy mustard that they served over top. Well-fried and very juicy.
Finally, the Leberkäse, similar to a meatloaf that is often used on sandwiches, wasn’t bad. I was expecting it to be kind of bland and dry, but it wasn’t at all. It wasn’t something I would necessarily choose to order again versus other items that we tried that night, but it was better than I anticipated after hearing the description from Karl (The Friday Lunch).
Regardless of the enormity of the main courses that we all ate, I still wanted to try at least one of the desserts before calling it quits. I went with the Apfelstrudel and Ice Cream. Unfortunately, this was rather disappointing – the strudel was dense instead of light and crisp, and the ice cream tasted like it may have been in the freezer for a decent period of time. It wasn’t actually freezer burnt, but it almost seemed like it was lacking vanilla taste (or was just a type of ice cream that didn’t have a lot of flavour to begin with). Next time, I think I’ll just skip dessert.
Some others also ordered the Chocolate Crepe, but I never tasted it and wouldn’t be able to tell you whether it was good or not (although I liked the way it looked). You’ll just have to read some of the other blog posts to find out! 🙂
Other than that, there were some logistical problems with paying and splittings the bills for some reason, and it took over half an hour to sort through everyone in the end. I’m not sure what was so difficult, but it seemed to cause a lot of stress for the staff, and I was pretty much ready to just run out after laying down some cash once it was finally sorted.
Other food bloggers that will have posts up shortly (if not already) and not yet mentioned above, will be:
So keep an eye out. And I really hope that I didn’t miss anyone!
Overall, Vancouver Alpen Club had a fun, festive atmosphere with our group chowing down, and the food was quite authentic from what I could tell. Next time I’m in the mood of some pork hock, I know where I’m going. 😉