Since the closing of Café Heidelberg in 2012 following a 40-year run, local lovers of German cuisine have had precious few places to get an authentic schnitzel or brat. Sure, the food at Hofbräuhaus is good—assuming you’re willing to endure beer-swilling tourists belting out “Sweet Caroline” to an oompah band while their friends get paddled by a waitress. Otherwise, the only other decent spot I knew of is Café Berlin in the southwest at Decatur Boulevard and Interstate 215. Earlier this summer, however, Henderson got its own German restaurant, Bavarian Castle, and it’s both authentic and delicious.
The restaurant occupies a spot at the far end of South Eastern Avenue that was previously home to the short-lived Meat & Three. The small space has been renovated and now features an appropriately Teutonic theme, complete with a mural of the German countryside, German flags and various appropriate knickknacks. And most of the staff (the owners, I’m guessing) dress in traditional German garb: a dirndl for the women, lederhosen for the men.
The menu features traditional family recipes, including four types of sausage created specifically for the restaurant by a supplier in California. “Mainstays” include four preparations of schnitzel, sauerbraten, goulash and the rolled beef dish roulade. There’s also a small vegetarian section and, of course, desserts. In addition to soft drinks, there’s a small selection of German beer and wine.
I’ve sampled a fair portion of the menu, and with the exception of some rather boring potato side dishes, everything has been excellent. Both the beer bratwurst and the Bavarian brat were delicately spiced and well-cooked. (The well-scored beer brat had a nicer char, but that may just be a case of who was cooking that day.) But the real treat on both those sausages was the light, delicious sauerkraut, which wasn’t as sour as most, and which even had an underlying slightly sweet note. As a result, it didn’t overpower the sausages, which were also more subtle than the typical bar or ballpark variety.
Among the schnitzels, I’m told the most popular is the champignon rahm (mushroom cream) variety. Thin pork cutlets are lightly bread, fried till crisp and then covered in a wonderful earthy sauce that’s actually lighter than you might expect. Another great fried item is the trio of thin, crispy, lightly seasoned potato pancakes, served with an order of applesauce. (I suggest getting some sour cream on the side as well.)
Finally, if you eat beef, make it a point to try the Hungarian goulash. The rich, dark stew is nicely seasoned, topped with the traditional dollop of sour cream. It would certainly stand up on its own. But what really blew my mind were the dumplings. The chef makes a sort of bread pudding out of Bavarian pretzels, then rolls it into a cylinder and cuts it into disks. The result is unlike any dumpling I’ve ever tasted. And if you’re vegetarian, those same dumplings are available with the mushroom cream sauce instead of goulash.
Given the quality of Bavarian Castle’s food, and the lack of competition, it’s not surprising the place has quickly developed a following. It was packed when I went for dinner on a recent Sunday night. Unfortunately, that resulted in slow service; we’d been seated for more than 25 minutes before our first plate arrived. Hopefully, the staff will learn to deal with the crowd more effectively in the future—file it under “good problems.”
Nonetheless, after visiting twice in three days, I was already thinking ahead to what I’d order on my next visit. So, auf wiedersehen, Bavarian Castle. That is, “until we meet again,” for those of you whose German may be rusty.
Al’s Menu Picks
- Bavarian bratwurst with sauerkraut ($8)
- schnitzel with creamy mushrooms ($17.50)
- Hungarian goulash with dumplings ($19.50)
- potato pancakes ($9)
10890 S. Eastern Ave., 702-778-2800. Open for lunch and dinner, 11 a.m.–9 p.m. Tue–Thu and Sun; 11–10 p.m. Fri-Sat. Dinner for two, $25-$45.