If your idea of a good German restaurant requires Oom-pah music, lederhosen, musty old dark wood, and more dead animals than live people then the Bavarian Lodge in Lisle, Illinois may not be the restaurant for you. If however you are in the mood for some good German food and an incredible beer selection then read on.
Restaurant Type: German / Pub
Dress Code: Casual
Alcohol: Oh Yeah (Lots of Beer)
Price Range: Middle of the Road (15-30)
Flavourgasmic Factor: Recommended
Although they do not go over the top there are enough beer steins, taxidermy animals and dark wood to let you know it’s a German restaurant, in a good way. The restaurant is family owned and has been in business since 1986. The atmosphere is casual and should not make anyone feel out of place. They have both a dining area and a pub room to try and promote a happy bar crowd. Since we at Flavourgasmic are happy and typically like the bar crowd, the pub room is where we have dined.
Since neither Katt nor I are beer drinkers we are typically not impressed by beer selections. I completely understand the draw to a good selection of beers for those that are beer aficionados. Now to get a better understanding of the beer selection at the Bavarian Lodge know that this is the ONLY restaurant that Katt and I visit that we not only drink beer, but look forward to it. Featuring a constantly changing selection of approximately 25 draft brews that come not only from Germany but from all over the world including exotic beers from North America. In addition to the draft selection they feature an incredible selection of bottled beer from around the world as well. Of course they also have a full bar if beer (even good beer) is not your thing. For Katt and me the selection is simple, we drink the 1809 Berliner Weiss (bottled) with a shot of Raspberry Syrup. This magical elixir, which is hard to come by outside of Germany, is known as Weiße mit Schuss (basically Weiss with syrup) and is typically made with either raspberry or woodruff syrup both of which are available at Bavarian Lodge.
If you are unsure of what to get I have found that the staff are very knowledgeable about their beer selection. During our last visit they where out of Raspberry syrup at which the pleasant woman working behind the bar recommended I try the Berliner Weiss with a couple of ounces of the Lindeman Framboise which is a Raspberry Lambic. Wow was she right, not only was the taste close to what I wanted it had the added benefit of being 100% alcohol, no syrup to dilute the happy juice. Later in the evening when I drank them out of Berliner Weiss they again suggested a switch to the Franziskaner Weissbier which again was spot on. If ever in doubt their website is constantly updated with not only what beers are currently on tap, but also what beers will be available soon.
But enough about the beer we came here to eat! The food did not disappoint. Certainly not fine dining, but if you came here expecting haute cuisine that you are missing the point. This is good honest stick to your ribs heavy Germany food done well at reasonable prices. You are almost guaranteed to not leave hungry. I should make a brief mention that they do offer three Vegetarian entrees which I have not tried but I guess are there for that odd man out that got dragged to the German restaurant by friends. They can of course enjoy their meal dinning under a stuffed raccoon!
For starters Katt and I have tried the Potato Pancakes, Wurst Platter, Tiroler Schnitzel Bites, and the Breaded White Cheddar Curds. The savory potato pancakes are served with sour cream and apple sauce and are an ideal way to start a meal. Just the right combination of sweet and savory to get your appetite kick started. The Wurst Platter is a sampling of three types of German sausage all sliced and fried served with spicy horseradish German mustard. The sausages were all well prepared and each offered a nice experience both in texture and flavour. Paired with the horseradish mustard it’s another solid starter. The Schnitzel bites are exactly that, small pork and beef schnitzels served with chopped onions and more German mustard. For those unaware a schnitzel is just typically a boneless cutlet of meat that it breaded and fried. This appetizer is a little heaver than the other two but equally as good, it’s fried breaded meat which is always a winner in my book! The breaded white cheddar curds are Wisconsin white cheddar curds that have been breaded and fried. Basically the Bavarian Lodge equivalent of the cheese sticks available at just about every restaurant and bar in the US. Their version is very good but probably the least interesting item on the appetizer menu, which can be good if you want something easy to get you going or if you have a picky eater with you. They are served with a roasted red pepper garlic sauce for dipping which is also very good.
As for entrees the choice was easy for me, I got the Sauerbraten. Sauerbraten starts by marinating a cut of beef usually from the bottom round or rump for several days in vinegar and a host of spices. The meat is then braised in the strained marinating liquid for hours after which the remaining liquid is made into a dark gravy thicken often times with gingersnaps. The Bavarian Lodge’s version is excellent, the perfect balance of sour, sweet and savory. The gravy is well seasoned and flavourful and makes the perfect compliment for either bread dumplings or Spätzle (both of which are done very well). The only complaint I had about the meal was the red cabbage, which in my opinion was overly sweet. Katt had the Bavarian Rouladen when is basically a beef steak that is wrapped around onion, carrot, celery, egg and sausage then baked and served with a peppercorn gravy. While I cannot speak for Katt I know she did enjoy her meal but had the same comment about the red cabbage being too sweet.
All in all we have never been disappointed by a trip to the Bavarian Lodge. The staff has always been gracious and extremely knowledgeable when it came to the selections and the beer. The prices are reasonable for the food you receive with appetizers coming in around $7-$8 and entrees averaging $17-$18. Beer on the other hand will not come cheap. Their beer prices are not high but when you are drinking higher end beers prices start to go up. Expect to pay around $70 for a couple with appetizers, entrees and drinks, of course you could dine on the cheap by not drinking, but where is the fun in that? If you are in the south western suburbs of Chicago and looking for some good German food, check out Bavarian Lodge.