Thursday, January 1, 2009

Gerda's Bakery and Restaurant

Restaurant: Gerda's Bakery and Restaurant
Address: 5180 Leavenworth St.
Website: None.
Genres: Bakery, German
Check Constraints: None.
Chain: No. | More Omaha Locations: No.

==Chamelaeon==
Ordered:
  • Diet Pepsi ($1.00)
  • Wienerschnitzel Special ($8.00)
    • Potato Soup
    • German Potato Salad
    • Red Cabbage
  • Black Forest Cake ($3.00)
Just to get it out of the way for the sake of the search engines out there: the restaurant is named Gerda's Bakery, but the sign on the side of the building calls it Gerda's B├Ąckerie (hint: that's German for "bakery"), and the menus themselves call the place Gerda's Bavarian Stube ("stube" translating to "room", more or less). That's a lot of names for a single restaurant, but trying to pin Gerda's down to a single role is a tough task. Like the Lithuanian Kafe and Bakery, Gerda's has a bakery attached to it; said bakery will sell you fresh donuts, breakfast breads, and a nice cup of coffee in the morning. When you come in for lunch, you're handed a small menu - which lacks prices - giving you your pick from several types of sandwich or the daily special. As you might note, Thursday's special is the wienerschnitzel. Based on the dinner menus, which we mistakenly grabbed first, at night the place turns into a much more involved affair, offering several types of schnitzel and several other classic German dishes, as well as a reasonable selection of beers. It seemed very clear to all of us that writing a review of the lunch dishes was going to give us a mere taste of the possible experiences here. Still, we're primarily a lunch blog, so until we all head there for dinner (spoiler on this review; that dinner's an inevitability), all we can do is report on the lunch offerings.

Don't get me wrong when I say there's only sandwiches and the special, here. There's a decent array of sandwiches, and as I mentioned the special changes daily, so you can still experience quite a bit. The special appears to have the option of soup or salad; it's starting to get cold out there, so I chose soup. The potato soup here is different from that of Petrow's or other such places. There, the potato flavor often melded with the cream and cheese or ham flavors, if such existed. Here, the potato sat up, grabbed you by the tongue, and forced you to acknowledge its position as primary flavor in the soup. That's not horrible, by any means - the soup was delicious, and the chunks of potato in it were well-saturated with the background flavors of butter and cream. If you're a fan of baked potatoes without all the overloading of toppings that can go on, then this soup is definitely your deal.

Once we'd finished with the soup, it wasn't long until the lunches started coming out. The wienerschnitzel special, as I noted at the top of the post, comes with a German potato salad, and some red cabbage. The cabbage was tender and flavorful, with a light vinegar taste to it - it was served room temperature, but that wasn't any impediment to the deliciousness. The potato salad was good as well, presenting a nice tangy flavor to the tongue.

The wienerschnitzel itself was - and you may be sensing a trend - also delicious. In a lesser restaurant you might expect such a piece of pork meat to have been heavily breaded and then casually deep fried, but here it was instead lightly coated in breading and pan-cooked until delicious. It eschewed spicing in favor of letting the flavor of the breading and pork shine through, which I think was an excellent decision. Don't look for an overwhelming taste power like chili or pizza here - instead, let the ingredients speak for themselves in their simplicity. Trust me, you won't be bored.

It would have been criminal to not try something from the bakery, so I opted for a piece of the Black Forest cake. And let me tell you, I was not disappointed. It was a generous piece, constructed out of homemade chocolate cake and glued together with hand-whipped cream... and that isn't even the best part. The cake was dotted with brandied cherries, and from the taste of it, they had not been shy about the brandy part of the equation. In fact, the brandied cherry taste seeped throughout the entire cake - I passed around pieces of nothing but the chocolate cake part, and everyone agreed that the taste was not only there, but strong. You might consider it a peculiar sort of German tiramisu, in fact. The alcohol is not uncommon in Germany, but it's decently rare in the US. Definitely grab a slice of this, but you might not want more than that if you're driving.

Gerda's is a fantastic culinary gem, and you can be sure that at some point we'll be back to review their dinner offerings - and their beers. There's sure to be a lager there with my name on it.

==NinjaDebugger==
Ordered:
  • Turkey Club ($7.25)
    • Potato Chips
    • Pickle
  • Bowl of Potato Soup ($3.50)
  • German Chocolate Cake ($3.00)
First things first. The soup came out early, and though I much prefer the Petrow's or Brazen Head ham + bacon + cheese potato soup, this was an excellent potato soup and I happily devoured the entire bowl. It was worth every last penny, especially after a light dose of salt and pepper. At least one person was disappointed at not having more of the soup, and jealous of my comparatively large bowl. Personally, I'm quite glad I learned from my prior mistake and opted for the bowl instead of the cup.

The club was very, very impressive. A double decker sandwich, for starters, on your choice of bread, and this being a bakery, their selection is pretty large. The sandwich was essentially nothing but tomatoes, bacon, and turkey. A LOT of turkey. No, more than that. An entire turkey was slaughtered just to make this sandwich. It was definitely an upper class turkey, too, possibly having worn a monacle before its slaughter. The bacon was done just well enough to be easy to bite off, but not so well done that it tasted even close to burnt. And the tomatoes, well, they stayed on the plate, sadly, but we all have our little foibles.

The german chocolate cake does not include alcohol, so it's safe for the designated driver, unlike the black forest cocktail Cham got. I actually turned down a refill of water for a moment while ordering the cake, but quickly rethought my decision. As it so happens, I didn't actually need the refill. The cake was as moist as it could be without falling apart. It was, beyond a shadow of a doubt, the most delicious german chocolate cake I have ever had the pleasure to eat, and I took considerable pleasure in doing so.

Really, the only bad thing about Gerda's was the parking. I would be most happy to return here to try the dinner, as there were a number of things on the menu that looked enticing. Unfortunately, it's probably going to have to be after the holidays.

==Moogle==
Ordered:
  • Wienerschnitzel Special ($8.00)
    • Potato Soup
    • German Potato Salad
    • Red Cabbage
  • Apfelstrudel ($1.50?)
I opted for the special as well. Most of the other options aren't necessarily German, unlike the daily specials. I echo the sentiments above. It really is a pretty simple but delicious soup. It's almost like a bowl of diced potato cooked until extremely soft with just a bit of cream and butter.

The potatoes that came with the dish were actually pretty similar. They were a bit firmer and had more of a tangy flavor that Cham mentioned. It might surprise you if you're not expecting it, but this type of potato side seems typical. Edelweiss in Bellevue had them as well. The cabbage was delicious. It had a bit of a sweet taste along with the very light vinegar taste. The schnitzel was just right. There wasn't any topping with it, but it didn't need it. It had a good flavor by itself.

From the bakery, I got an apfelstrudel, a pastry with apple filling and powdered sugar on top. It came somewhat chilled and was tasty. It was light and flaky, and there was just enough filling. It is a fairly lightweight dessert, and the price is pretty lightweight too.

It's a pretty nice place. The people are friendly. The parking is a little awkward. They have only four or five spaces in front of the actual restaurant, but they have a parking lot with their name on it a little ways east of the building. Now that I know where it is, I'll be sure to stop by now and then. I was afraid that there weren't any more German restaurants after Edelweiss closed.

==Mecha==
Ordered:
  • Reuben ($7.??)
    • Potato Soup
    • Chips
  • German Chocolate Cake ($3.00)
I am the aforementioned one who wished I'd gotten more soup. It was such delicious soup. It's been nice to have things that I hated in my childhood (fish, potato soup, etc) done right, and tasting delicious.

A note: Getting chips, don't bother. They're a bag of fairly standard chips, and I won't be making that mistake again! Now, on to the sandwich. The Reuben was a substantial sandwich, exactly what it seemed. Corned Beef, Sauerkraut, Thousand Island. Couldn't really taste the swiss, if it was there, that is apparently in some. It was on rye, and it was really hard for me to look at and eat at the same time, but it was fantastic. I've tried reubens here and there in town, and they've always been a bit different. My guess is that this is the most 'traditional' Reuben, and I guess I like tradition. Lots of meat, reasonably messy as such things go, pretty well balanced with a lot of strong flavors, which is something I always appreciate. If there was swiss, as I said, I missed it, which I guess is a ding, but there was no obvious swiss to my eyes from the side. Just the mass of meat and kraut and dressing.

The german chocolate cake was, as ND pointed out, very good. I always expect these to be dense and difficult to eat, but this delivered on a better chocolate cake experience.... although I'm going to have to go with the black forest next time. I like cherries, and I like brandy, and nobody lets me drive anywhere anyway. All in all, the parking's the only thing that makes this a downer for me, and there's a lot nearby as Moogle pointed out. Oh, also. You do not pick up the dinner menu at lunch. Do not make Gerda angry at you. (This is also why we have to go back another time.)

==MapleSyrup==
Ordered:
  • Diet Pepsi ($1.00)
  • Wienerschnitzel Special ($8.00)
    • Potato Soup
    • German Potato Salad
    • Red Cabbage
The lunch menu is unfortunately scant, comprising some sandwiches and then the daily special. Feeling a bit Germany and having never had it, I opted for the Wienerschnitzel that was on special. The potato salad and red cabbage that accompanied the special had a refreshing, mild pickled flavor to them. The potato soup was very simple, not featuring any ham or bacon or cheese, but was still delicious.

As I said, I've never had Wienerschnitzel and have actually never had occasion to find out what it is. All I knew was that it was some preparation of pork--maybe. I've spent the last 25 years in Indiana. I've been to many state and county fairs. I've been to many family and hole-in-the-wall restaurants. This Wienerschnitzel was the best breaded pork tenderloin I've ever had. The breading was light and had a delicious buttery flavor. The meat inside was tender and had just the right amount of give as I bit into it. And despite it looking like a medium-sized portion it was filling and satisfying.

Besides the parking, the only other issue I had was that it was a can o' soda. I can understand being a small business and not wanting to bother with the fees and trouble of getting a soda fountain, but say on your menu what you're offering! Nevertheless, I look forward to going back for dinner.

8 comments:

snekse said...

Hmm, I thought I read somewhere that Gerda's had closed. Good to know it's open. Will have to go check it out. Do you recall if they had Currywurst on the menu? Have any of you been to 1892?

Chamelaeon said...

We actually delayed going here for several weeks because I read something saying they were only open certain days of the week, but the restaurant itself seemed to have no such indications posted. I don't recall if currywurst was on the dinner menu, but I don't think it was one of the lunch specials.

I don't think any of us have been to 1892, but given the pictures I think it's a requisite now.

NinjaDebugger said...

Ditto Cham on the currywurst. I think I might almost recall seeing it on the dinner menu, but I know it wasn't out for lunch.

And man, if it weren't for the onions slathered on that potato pancake, I would be all over that.

snekse said...

@NinjaDebugger

The onions are what made that dish - and I don't really even like onions, but these were nicely done. Somewhat soft and sweet. Not overpowering at all.

NinjaDebugger said...

@snekse

Unfortunately, what most people think of as 'there are onions in this' translates to "Holy crap, how can you taste anything but onion?" for me. I tried to build up a resistance to it by forcing myself to eat onions, but it didn't work, so I just avoid them.

But man, potato pancakes are plenty good on their own. Also, potato pancakes with mashed potatoes and ham and turkey and chicken inside and gravy over the top. Mm, we gotta go back to Brazen Head sometime.

snekse said...

@ NinjaDebugger

Ditto on the "holy crap". I have the same problem with bell peppers.

Wonder if it's a genetic thing like bitter Brussels sprouts?

NinjaDebugger said...

@snekse

I wouldn't be surprised. Maybe someone should ask SCIENCE.

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