Since Danzer’s Restaurant went on hiatus earlier this fall, there’s been a lot of discussion about the lack of German food in Central New York. However, we had to travel only to Weedsport to find a good German dinner.
The owners of Old Erie are not German, but since the food of their annual Oktoberfest became so popular a few years ago, they have kept several German dishes on the menu year-round. Those we tried on this cold, wet Thursday night were the best of an otherwise uneven dinner.
We started with the Sausage Sampler ($12). The menu doesn’t say this appetizer is for more than one person, but it’s really enough for four. We took half of it home. The Hofmann’s bratwurst and knockwurst were good with a bit of a pan crust, but what really made this appetizer was the sauerkraut flavored with caramelized onions and the two browned-on-top pierogies. Combined with the bread service, which includes the unusual element of a dish of al dente lentils marinated in a mild balsamic vinaigrette, this appetizer would make a substantial dinner for one.
Mains at Old Erie come with either a cup of soup or a salad. On this night the soup was Italian Wedding Soup, which was just okay — a bit salty and processed-tasting. The dinner salad was a standard but very fresh blend of romaine and spinach. The balsamic dressing with crumbled blue cheese that we requested was also good but came with an unannounced upcharge for the cheese of $1.50.
The regular menu includes two German wines: one Gewurtztraminer and one Riesling. The Weber Riesling ($22) we wanted was unavailable, so our server suggested one that had been brought in for Oktoberfest — a Nik Weis Riesling — at the same price. (There was some confusion over the price when we received the bill, but that was resolved).
This Riesling was rather sweet, good with the German choices we had made.
We went off the German menu for the night’s special, a Chicken and Lobster Piccata served over wild mushroom ravioli ($21). It sounded deliciously lavish. Unfortunately, overcooked chicken strips and the too-thick edges of the ravioli both came out unpleasantly chewy, marring an already complex dish that was over-complicated by the further addition of chopped fresh tomatoes and baby spinach. The piccata sauce, on the other hand, was delicious–light and flavorful.
Our Jager Schnitzel ($19 for pork/$20 for veal) returned us to the German part of the menu and to happiness. The extremely large pork schnitzel lay over mounds of German potato salad, red cabbage, handmade spaetzle, and obviously fresh sauteed mushrooms dressed with more caramelized onions. These “sides” were so varied, so richly flavored, that they would have made a wonderful meal by themselves. The pork schnitzel provided a milder but still delicious canvas for the strong flavors of the sides.
Each of our mains and some others we saw come out of the kitchen were plenty for two people and, here again, we took half of what we were served home.
Around 7:45, as the dining room began to empty out, the service which to this point had been friendly, professional and attentive enough became non-existent as the staff turned their attention to resetting the dining room for the next day. After waiting a while, we asked for leftovers boxes, which our server placed on the table for us to pack messily, in contrast to the careful packing we had noticed earlier for other diners. We had failed to notice a note on the menu that announced the closing time had moved to 8 p.m. (instead of 9 p.m.) after Oct. 1.
When asked, our server did bring us some beautiful made-in-house desserts: a Linzer torte and a Sacher torte, each at $6. However, by the time we received them, shortly after 8 p.m., we felt as if we were intruding on the closed dining room, so we took most of those home as well.
Both were extremely well made, the Linzer torte with a fresh pecan crumb crust and dense raspberry filling and the Sacher torte covered in a thick layer of some of the richest, darkest chocolate we’d tasted in a while.
The Old Erie Restaurant is worth the drive to Weedsport if you’re after German food. Just make sure you’re very hungry and you go very early.
The Restaurant: Old Erie Restaurant, 8924 North Seneca Street, Weedsport, 315-834-6641
Credit Cards? Yes
Access to Disabled? Yes
Hours: Winter — Tuesday and Wednesday 11a.m. to 8 p.m.; Thursday and Friday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Saturday noon to 9 p.m.; and Sunday noon to 8 p.m. 12-8. After October 1, closes at 8 Monday through Thursday. Summer — Monday to Thursday 11 a.m. to -9,; Friday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Saturday noon to 10 p.m.; Sunday noon to 9 p.m.
Cost: Dinner for two with appetizer, wine, dessert, tax and tip was $119.90.