Grüß Gott für Gutes Essen

According to my husband’s imprecise undergraduate German, the above means something like “Praise God for good eats!”

Alexander's German RestaurantGood, inexpensive eats are what we enjoyed a few nights ago at Alexander’s German Restaurant here in Berks County.

While Berks is a renowned hub of Pennsylvania Deitsch culture and cuisine, deitsch and deutsch are not the same thing.

You’ll have to look elsewhere than Alexander’s for the chicken & waffles, hot bacon dressing, and shoefly pie of the “Pennsylvania Dutch.” (I recommend the inimitable Deitsch Eck restaurant in Lenhartsville, PA.)

Alexander’s serves up authentic Bavarian fare (the chef, Hansel, is a native).  Instead of the smoked sausage favored by the region’s deitsch-speaking denizens, Alexander’s offers an array of wurst spread out on a bed of kraut made smooth by the addition of Riesling.  Instead of yeasty white dinner rolls, there’s crusty brown bread and warm bretzel served with sweet mustard and butter.  Instead of sarsaparilla and birch beer soda, Alexander’s features an unusually good selection of German, Czech, Danish and Belgian beers, with several on tap.

Bread, bretzel, and beer, oh my. That’s a Franziskaner Hefe-Weisse on left and a Warsteiner Dunkel on right.

At the suggestion of our dirndl-clad waitress, I went for a pint of the Warsteiner Dunkel.  This mellow brew was semisweet like an ale, malty like a porter, and light and crisp like a lager in spite of its dark amber color.  For all of $3, it had everything I crave in a beer and none of what I don’t (that is, it is not bitter).

After a few sips on an empty stomach, I could hardly control my Cheshire grin when the waitress announced the special for that evening: the wurst sampler.

wurst sampler at Alexander's

I am SO going to have the wurst meat-hangover after eating this. From front to back that is a German hot dog, a Hungarian smoked sausage, bratwurst, and weissewurst.

I once heard that it was Einstein’s love of wurst that kept him failing in his humanistic attempts to live as a vegetarian. I am also much too attached to the cuisine of my German-Slavic heritage to give up meat entirely.  I did feel ill, however, to learn the next day that the weissewurst I munched on was a veal sausage.  I don’t care how tender the meat, I draw the line at eating baby flesh.  These links were tender though—and oh so juicy.

Which brings me to my next observation:  there are no vegetarian selections on Alexander’s menu.  I always view this as a missed opportunity.  The husband’s not a meat lover, so he enjoyed an enormous, buttery stuffed flounder.  A true vegetarian, however, would be forced to piece together a meal of side dishes.

Alexander's Stuffed Flounder

Alexander’s flounder was delicately seasoned and stuffed with spinach, crab, and a mild cheese.

Alexander’s offers traditional German sides: rot kohl, spaetzle, sour cream dill cucumbers, potatoes dressed with white vinegar (the latter was served refrigerator cold, which made the vinegar too biting).  The creamy roasted dill dressing on top of my green salad (garden fresh and substantially-sized at $2.50) was homemade and craveworthy, as was my husband’s sweet poppy seed dressing.

Part of Alexander’s charm is getting to and from this old country hotel via a relaxing drive through rolling farmland.  Inside, the decor is an eclectic mash-up of restaurant surplus and flea market finds—of overstock and antique.  Depending on your expectations, this can make for comforting warmth or a feeling of decrepitude.  For me it is more of the former, though I’d love to dig in with my DIY decor tools and polish this diamond in the rough.

Alexander's lounge

Whether you live in Eastern Pennsylvania, or you’re just passing through, Alexander’s Old World fare, prices, and total experience make it a highly worthwhile destination.

It’s my birthday too, yeah…

Today is a milestone birthday for me.  I say “milestone” because it is one of those that ushers me into a whole new age demographic.  (Never you mind which one.)

Early 80s Birthday Bash

Not sure why all these other kids are opening gifts at my 4th birthday party.  

At this age, there’s no use in denying—not to myself nor anyone else—that I am an adult.  It is high time to face some fears.  First on my list, starting my blog.

It’s not going to be pretty at first. I’m still mastering WordPress. But I’ve always been a quick study, and before too long, I’m sure I’ll have something here that someone, somewhere, may actually wish to read.