Hildegard's has long been our list of places to try. Not only was it the last German restaurant in town that I hadn't reviewed but it is also the most beloved of one of my friends. Their Tuesday-Saturday schedule had thwarted us a few times, but one Friday the hubby and I finally found ourselves pulling into their parking lot.
The restaurant is extremely tiny, though in good weather the patio would extend their eating area. We had timed our diner well and after a short wait (happily spent checking out the dessert case) we were seated.
The small size of the restaurant and rather large party seated next to us meant our meal was rather loud. Given the lack of sound damping, it's dubious that it would ever truly be a quiet place, but adding a large group caused us to strain to hear each other.
Our drink orders and menu selections were taken quickly--two soft drinks and two chicken Berlins, though the hubby and I opted for different sides. I stayed with my beloved pan fried potatoes and chose a salad with ranch. The hubby went for mashed potatoes (no gravy) and the broccoli and cheddar soup.
Rolls had materialized nearly as soon as we were seated, so once we had our orders squared away we tucked in.
The generously sized, conch shaped rolls were soft and chewy with an exterior that tasted parboiled, much like a soft pretzel or a bagel. The poppy seeds sprinkled across the top were visually appealing and added a bit of "pop" to the flavor.
I studied the detailed garden murals on the walls around us as we chatted. A few minutes lady an older woman with a German accent came bearing our starters--the salad and the soup. I wondered if this was Hildegard herself, but not quickly enough to ask.
My salad was simple--crisp, fresh cucumbers, chunks of carrots, a slice of mushy but flavorful tomato, and iceburg lettuce. What made it fantastic though was the dressing. I'm not sure if this was a house version of ranch dressing (what I ordered) or if I was given the wrong dressing by mistake. Either way, it was the creamy dill driven concoction which rescued the other ingredients from potential mediocrity and had me happily cleaning my plate. I suspect this is the dressing they use on their cucumber salad.
The hubby was well pleased with his soup (shown at the top of this post), reporting that it was cheesy with chunks of real broccoli.
Not long after we finished our starters, our meals arrived. Huge schnitzels took over most of the large dinner plates, surrounded by equally heaping servings of the side dishes.
The chicken Berlin was perfect. The green appples, sliced with the skin still on, were soft and tangy with just a hint of a crunch. The cheese was gooey and present without being overbearing. The onion was flavorful and tender with just a touch of crispiness. But it was the chicken itself that was the star of the show. Lightly breaded, fork tender, and exploding with flavor. Each ingredient worked together in harmony so effortlessly that I could happily eat this on repeat.
The pan fried potatoes were soft with a smokey, bacony flavor, though no bacon was in evidence. The slaw was sharply vinegary, red cabbage and shredded carrots met with a liberal application of black pepper.
The hubby enjoyed his chicken Berlin as much as I did mine, and stated that the mashed potatoes were wonderfully smooth.
Midway through our entree, my hubby ran low on his diet Coke and we began casting about for a server. It took several attempts to finally catch someone's eye and we noticed longer and longer delays between checkins as our meal went on. However, given that there appeared to only be one server for the entire restaurant (plus one hostess and the maybe-Hildegard who had brought out our food), they may very well have been short staffed that night.
Too full to manage dessert just then, we decided to get a slice each of the German chocolate cake and the blueberry cheesecake to take home. They ended up in the refrigerator until the next day when we pulled them out for a lovely Saturday brunch. (What? Cake is totally a breakfast food.)
The German chocolate cake had a tight crumb and a light chocolate flavor. It leaned more dry than moist but the creamy, thick whipped chocolate frosting gave it plenty of body.
Chocolate or no, it was the cheesecake, much as I suspected when I first spotted it in the dessert case, which stole my heart. As if a creamy, air filled texture, a lightly tangy flavor, a drizzle of white chocolate, and bright blueberries, bursting with flavor, scattered throughout the slice weren't enough, the slice itself was also crust-less. Finally, cheesecake freed from the tyranny of graham cracker crusts!
Needless to say, despite the somewhat lagging service towards the end of the meal, my husband and I were completely won over. The chicken Berlin and cheesecake were brilliantly executed. Even the usually tired iceburg salad was made astonishing and new with a superb dressing. We will absolutely be back.
Total for the meal: $52.16 (Includes two soft drinks, two dinners, and two slices of cake)
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