My husband and I have lived in Cincinnati for 30 and 11 years respectively and we've never visited Mecklenburg Gardens. We fixed that over this past weekend when we stopped in for dinner. We both come from largely German families, so many of the items on offer were pretty familiar to us already. For starters we tried the potato pancakes and sauerkraut balls. The potato pancakes were pretty good, loosely packed shredded potato fried crispy with apples and sour cream drizzled on top. The sauerkraut balls...the sauerkraut balls were spectacular. We both agreed (while apologizing, eyes heavenward) that even our grandmothers would probably have liked them better than their own. The coating was not too heavy or oily, and the kraut inside tasted super fresh and with just the right amount of moisture and tangy flavor. We ignored the thousand island dressing they were served with, which was perfectly good but entirely redundant.
For supper husband chose the Sauerbraten (German pot roast) with Gingerbread sauce and spätzle; I had the Wiener Schnitzel with Hunter sauce (which I requested on the side) and German potato salad. The Sauerbraten was super tasty--the "Gingerbread sauce" tasted like a thick beef gravy with a base reminiscent of ginger spiced apple butter. Awesome stuff and the absolute highlight of the dish. The spätzle was nothing special, more or less as that should be.
The Wiener Schnitzel, on the other hand, was I think the single greatest piece of veal I've ever been served at any restaurant, in any form. It was hand-breaded and lightly fried with a seriously delicious delicate bread crumb and egg coating, totally reminiscent of something Grandma would have served one at a time out of the skillet at home. The veal itself was tender and perfectly pounded and cooked.
Also recommended are the apple strudel (we skipped the ice cream) and the black beer they have on draft. Smoother and even more drinkable than Guinness!
The staff and management were extremely friendly and even let us explore the neat old rooms of the upstairs and the adjacent Beer Hall / Garden. Mecklenburg Gardens is well worth the trip for any German food or Cincinnati History buff!
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