Published in Travel Sri Lanka magazine, October 2004.
By Laurie Ashton
When I was five or six, my sister and I played a game of Canasta against one of our brothers and our father. The four of us sat around the table munching on liverwurst sandwiches, careful not to get anything on the cards under our father’s watchful eyes. I was new to liverwurst and tried it tentatively. As I recall, I wasn’t fond of it with the first bite, but gradually, over time, I began to like it.
Such is food. It can evoke memories into startling clarity through taste, texture, and smell. Delighted that I found liverwurst on the menu at the German Restaurant, I ordered the Wurstplatte – Salami, Leber und Bierwurst (Cold Platter – Salami, Liver and Beer Sausages – Rs. 375). The Leberwurst was fresh, had a fine texture, and the taste was spot on. The salami and bierwurst was also fresh, delightfully so, and taste was superb. It reminded me of the sausages we used to buy at tiny meat shops in the middle of equally tiny German communities. It was served with coarse mustard, the quintessential accompaniment, and rolls so fresh out of the oven that steam rose from them. As an appetizer, it’s enough for four.
Is it possibly that my enjoyment of liverwurst is coloured by the fact that my sister and I trounced our father and brother game after game while eating liverwurst sandwiches? Oh yeah. But that doesn’t diminish how enjoyable the German Restaurant’s rendition is. And how authentic.
The décor brought back many other childhood memories as well, such as that of a table we had. It was a horizontal slice of wood from the trunk of a tree several feet in diameter and covered with a quarter inch or so of lacquer, showing the rings in a most aesthetically pleasing way. The tables at the German Restaurant were much the same. Each one was a different shape – some round, some oblong, and some with juts hither and thither – and hence each had a different personality. Two tables clearly fit together well for large parties, but also served well when separate. The booths, chairs, separators – in fact, much of the restaurant – were constructed from varnished wood. It had very much the feel of a Bavarian inn or beer house. I’m only surprised that no one broke out into German beer drinking songs while we were there.
My dining companion ordered the Königinsuppe mit Champignons (Cream of Chicken with Mushrooms – Rs. 225) and found the flavour a little weaker than she would have liked, but otherwise it was very enjoyable. I had the Gulaschuppe (Goulash Soup – Rs. 200). It’s the sort of thing I’d love to have – and very likely did – after a few hours of ice-skating on frozen ponds in Northern Canada. Hearty, warming, delicious, and substantial. I’ve had many variations of this soup over the years, and this was at the top of its class.
For the main course, my dining companion had the Schweineschinitzel “Cordon Bleu” mit Pommes Frites und Salat (Pork Schnitzel with French Fries and Salad – Rs. 725) – topped with a cute happy face on a slice of cucumber. How fun! The serving was enormous, and I was beginning to see that large portions are the norm here. The Schnitzel had ham and cheese stuffed into the pork, and a delicate layer of breading on the outside. The schnitzel wasn’t at all greasy as I’ve frequently seen elsewhere. Simply scrumptious!
I had the Pfeffersteak mit Pommes Frites und Salat (Pepper Steak with French Fries and Salad – Rs. 650). The steak arrived exactly how I’d asked for it and was covered in a rich, tasty gravy that complemented the melt-in-my-mouth steak superbly. The salad had a lovely dressing – Caraway? – that tantalized the taste buds.
I’ve had a lot of German cuisine over the years, and one of the first things I think of in association with it is a lot of fat; this restaurant, however, has managed to make delectable, appetizing, tasty authentic German food without that greasy feel. Now that’s an accomplishment.
For those of you who are worried that everyone on the menu is red meat, don’t. They serve Vegetarische Gerichte – vegetarian dishes – such as Gergrilltes Phatasie-Gemüse mit Tomaten-Concasse, serviert mit Reis (Fancy cut grilled vegetables with Tomato Concasse, served with Sautéed Rice – Rs. 290) or Moussala von Auberginen serviert mit gebutterten Spaghetti (Eggplant Moussaka Served with Buttered Spaghetti – Rs. 290). There are also Fischplatte (Seafood) choices, such as Gerillter Frisch mit Bearnaise Sauce, Pommes Frites und Salat (Grilled Seer with Bearnaise Sauce, French Fries, and Salad – Rs. 695) and Paniertes, Frittiertes Medallion vom Seer Fisch mit Tiroler Sauce, überbackenem Gemüse Sahne und Bratkartoffeln (Crumb Fried Medallion Seer Fish, Tyrolienne Sauce, Sauté Vegetables in Cream, and Roast Potatoes – Rs. 690). There are also chicken dishes such as Hahnchen St. Germain (Chicken St. Germain – Rs. 575.)
Service was excellent – our waiter was polite, attentive but unobtrusive, and very helpful when it came to menu recommendations.
The German Restaurant has been open for 25 years, and in those years, has fostered a reputation for top-notch quality and service. As such, it tends to be busy, especially Thursday through Saturday. Be sure to call for a reservation.
The biggest complaint diners make when eating at the German Restaurant? The portions are too big. And that is the only complaint you’ll have at the German Restaurant.
It’s a complaint that my dining companion and I certainly shared. Everything we had was so good. We wanted to have dessert, but there was simply no room. If we had ordered dessert, my first choice would have been the Apfelstrudel (Apple Strudel – Rs. 200). Or perhaps the Apfel-Krapfen mit Zucker & Zimt und Vanille Eis (Apple Beignets with Cinnamon Sugar and Vanilla Ice Cream – Rs. 225). Or maybe the Schokoladenpudding (Chocolate Mousse – Rs. 225)? Hmm. I guess I’ll have to go back and find out. . .
No. 11 Galle Face Court 2
Lunch: 12:00 pm to 3:00 pm Monday through Saturday
Dinner: 6:00 pm to 12:00 pm 7 days a week including holidays
All prices inclusive of VAT.