Saturday, 28 February 2009

Gästhaus' Looks Belie Dining Experience

I must first apologize for seemingly to have neglected my food blog. Unfortunately, until the last weekend I hadn't been to a new restaurant for dinner of which to write a review, and I hadn't been inspired to try to concoct a new dish at home. However, I was in Winnipeg last Saturday, and that gave me the opportunity to try a place in which I hadn't dined before.

German cuisine is arguably not as refined in general as some of the other cuisines in the world; it tends to have a heartier, down-to-earth edge to it. Though higher-end fine dining can be very enjoyable experiences, often the cravings for something slightly lower on the hierarchy of cuisine (i.e. fine dining at the top, fast food at the bottom) come up, sometimes resulting in rewarding experiences as well. Gästhaus Gutenberger, a German restaurant in the western suburbs of Winnipeg, should make this list.

This place was recommended to me by a friend of a friend of mine who perchance has some German heritage. At the risk of sounding discriminatory, I believe that the best (or worst) food critics are those who share and know very well the same culture and/or ethnicity. This is likely because we would know our own culture or ethnic heritage best, and therefore we'd be better able to differentiate the authentic restaurants from the pretenders. So, with a friendly suggestion in hand, I made my way to try this place for dinner.

When you enter the restaurant you feel like you may have just walked through a time warp. The interior decor is evidently aged. I don't just simply mean making it look old to give it a visual touch to a German restaurant, but the interior design seemed to have been unchanged for years. Some of the railings, light fixtures and even a bit of the ceiling unfortunately showed some wear and tear as well. Where the restaurant has its weaknesses physically, it was compensated, however, by a decent dining experience thanks to a mix of service, food and surprisingly even entertainment with an accordionist occasionally strumming some tunes throughout the restaurant.

At my server's suggestion I just ordered a main course, which itself included either a soup of the day or a salad. I opted for the soup, which that night was beef and barley, which perchance had in it (surprise, surprise!) cabbage and was justd a touch on the underflavoured side. For the main course I decided to try the Schweizer Rahm Schnitzel, which was a schnitzel topped with a slice of Black Forest ham, mushrooms and a white wine cream sauce with spätzle and red cabbage. The ham added another layer of flavour to the dish but was also effective in preventing the sauce and mushrooms from making the schnitzel lose its breaded cripiness. The server's suggestion was well founded, as I found myself quite full after finishing this dish.

Gästhaus Gutenberger is a good place to just sit back, relax and enjoy some real hearty food in a cosy, if aged, setting. It could give itself a facelift just enough to make it look fresh without losing the atmosphere. Reservations are recommended as this place gets quite busy for dinner. Also, for the more adventurous, pork hocks are served here as well, but on weekends only apparently.

Name: Gästhaus Gutenberger
Address: 2583 Portage Ave., Winnipeg, MB
Cuisine: German
Price Range: Dinner Entrées $20-$37
Accessible: Yes