J: After eating our weight around Victoria and up and down this island, I’ve grown a little tired of the local restaurant scene. There are some good places, but in order to really get a large variety of restaurants, I would have to leave this city for greener pastures.
E: And before we see some old establishments completely disappear, I suggested that we visit the only one German Restaurant before it completely closes. The Times Colonist reported the news that this establishment will be closing, near the end of the year — and the faithful will be coming here to feast for perhaps one last time.
J: That is why I was eager to check out this Bavarian restaurant I forgotten. It has been in this city for over 40 years and this was my first time stepping onto the premises. But not Ed, he’s a veteran.
E: I’ve been here a few times, and generally enjoyed the food. This was before Two Hungry Blokes started, and while I did not think the food was exceptional, I had to see if anything has changed in the years that passed. There are a few Polish diners in town that I enjoy going to more. I was Hungary for something unique I don’t often find elsewhere. The last time I enjoyed a truly enjoyable German meal was in Leavenworth, Washington where I got Amadeus to “feed me.”
Mind you, there are times where I question Jame’s indecisiveness. He could not figure if dining at a booth is better or we get a proper table when we finally met up to come to the Rathskeller. The waitress was feeling exasperated over my buddy’s desire for a window seat or elsewhere. We also took a long time deciding on what to eat. Could someone’s impatience (other than mine) be felt in the air?
J: Our server wasn’t a bed of roses at first but she managed to recover by composing herself. No matter how much of a crappy day you have, I recommend not bringing it to work. Or, at least, do not allow it to affect your customer service. Rathskeller may be 40 years old but that doesn’t mean it’s survived this long because of the food and service. It may have survived on novelty in a deprived city such as Victoria — who knows. Their official site was lacking in both an updated menu and prices. Their menu in-house is far more extensive and much more satisfying to read. I settled on the Seafood Schnitzel ($19.95) topped with shrimp, accompanied by a side of red cabbage and scallops in a white sauce. The schnitzel was dry. There was a side of apple sauce and sour cream to smother on the schnitzel, it helped greatly.
E: A schnitzel is an essentially pounded meat that’s coated in eggs and bread crumbs before being fried up. Some chefs might add seasoning to it afterwards and others might garnish it with a lemon or orange to bring out the meat’s natural flavours. Here, it’s smothered with other toppings. I’m not saying it makes the base product all that appetizing (the sunny side up egg I had in my dish certainly helped), but sometimes you know by flavour how well cared the animal was before it was sacrificed for human consumption.
At least with the vegetables added to the dish, namely the potato, I found that more tasty than the meal. The lard used in frying that up gave it a crisp I enjoyed. It was tough to cut through, eventually I just picked up the quadrants to nibble on like it was finger food.
J: My red cabbage wasn’t to my liking. I should’ve asked how it was prepared. I love raw or cooked cabbage but pickled, no. The highlight of the meal was The Nicky ($2.35) a mix of raspberry juice, lime juice, and sprite. The first sip was a kick to the tastebuds but once you get used to it, it’s pleasant and very tasty. But our appetizer before the main course was the escargot ($8.50). Ed and my opinions may differ on this one.
E: This starter was the highlight. Honestly, there’s nothing special to rave over the main course. I had Finnish toppings on my plate — mackerel and low-quality caviar — and that made me wonder if this restaurant is trying to lay claim to being a schnitzel house to represent all the countries from the European Union (EU). Most likely not. Although it tries, it should just be focused on improving on the recipe from one country than many. I think a proper garnish, like the lemon offered with the mollusc, was all that’s needed here.
J: I couldn’t really taste the escargot, the flavour was covered by the fresh mushrooms. I had to consume a snail on its own before I could finally get that taste I was seeking. I guess I could say the garlic butter and mushrooms were the real stars.
But if I came away with anything from this restaurant, it is their attempt to make you feel like you are in a mock-up of what the ignorant may think of as Bavaria. The interior look, the toilets being in walk in closets (no seriously) and the servers in traditional outfits, one may only find at Oktoberfest. Even local musician Ken Beattie was playing Oompa music on his accordion (much to the delight of the customers). I only wish they had turned off the overhead music while he played. It is bothersome to be flooded with two songs at the same time. If anything The Rathskeller has its charm but for those serious about what this regional food is about, visit the country. And for those who satisfy themselves with soaking up the culture during Oktoberfest, then Rathskeller would be the best of that world.
If anything The Rathskeller has its charm but for those serious about what this regional food is about, visit the country. And for those who satisfy themselves with soaking up the culture during Oktoberfest, then Rathskeller would be the best of that world.
ES: So when are we going? Oh wait, James has this fear of planes … Guess we won’t be making a blitzkrieg there anytime soon.
2½ Blokes out of 5