The hospitality and down home friendliness just doesn't get better than this! The Naples restaurant is hidden behind Mel’s Diner, on the east side of US 41. It is clearly on the "regular's" well traveled path. Originally owned by Arthur and wife Dale, it was sold a year ago. The Stoerchles then bought it back, just 2 weeks ago. The robust food is "as good as it gets" in any German home or restaurant.
Walk in, perhaps have a beer, coffee or soda at the bar with friendly bartender Peter. Go left, into the dining room, and have a seat under the cuckoo clock, or by the window. Red napkins are set on white linen tablecloths, with wooden chairs. Color photographs tastefully line the walls. Lace curtains and flowers give homey touches.
Laura, our experienced server, started us with the light and creamy chicken liver pate (5), with accompanying onion rings and a tomato, placed on complimentary pretzel and rye breads.The house salad’s truly fresh greens are tightly topped with a delicious vinaigrette’s mix of tartness and slight sweetness.
The onion soup has a generous portion of tender sliced onions in a rich broth, and a small round crisp crouton, topped with crumbled cheese (5). My favorite was the potato leek soup (of the day), rich and hearty with bits of potato and strips of leek. Not cold or finely strained as in Louis Diat’s vichyssoise, this delight is perfectly sized! The soups are freshly made, as is all food, and that’s what makes guests’ eyes light up with that “This is really good” look!.
The music is nicely kept in the background. Played at low volume, it’s hard to tell the vocalists language. It’s easy to talk softly with your guests. Won’t be like that at Oktoberfest! We ordered icy cold fresh pours of Spaten Beer (München) and a Gaffel Beer (Kölsch), served right from the tap. They have refreshingly bold tastes. There’s also soft drinks, coffee, teas, Italy’s Pellegrino and Germany’s Apollinaris bottled waters.
I was “over the top” with my favorite, the Jägerschnitzel (23). A generous tender pork cutlet is lightly pan sautéd till just crisp, then bathed with a rich brown mushroom gravy with pieces of mushrooms, (perhaps with hints of bacon, onions and tomato). The potato dumpling, with parsley is on the upper left. It was one of the best schnitzels I and my German friends have had! The Sauerbraten's (23), beef, marinated then slow cooked like a pot roast, truly “melts in your mouth”. The spaetzle is on the upper left. Its lusciously light sour cream-based sauce is delicious. Other diners recommended the Scheinshaxe (pigs knuckles without skin) (24). Sometimes it's roasted with skin, as a special. The Black Forest Beef Goulash (19) is said to taste like some Polish goulashes, and has it’s loyal devotees.
The Entrees are served with soup or salad, vegetable and starch. Choose red cabbage or creamy spinach. Then choose a starch from: spaetzle, potato dumplings, French fries, or mashed potatoes. The light and delicate spaetzle, hand made and colander pressed into simmering water, is cooked till it floats-the traditional way. The potato dumplings are light, with a hint of onions; a light counterpoint for the Jägerschnitzel’s boldness!
There’s 6 traditional side dishes, each $4. The German potato salad is light, with a touch of vinegar, onions and salt and pepper, light on the mayo. Nicely done. The cole slaw is simplicity; sliced cabbage, vinegar, a touch of mayo and perhaps sugar and white pepper or horseradish to give it a little zing, and it’s irresistible character. The red cabbage is sweet and tender. Creamed spinach is clearly fresh, with bright green leaves- understated creamy goodness.
Owners Dale and Arthur came by the tables during dinner, introduced themselves, and were very attentive to every detail. I was a slow eater. Arthur noticed the lull in my eating and asked “Is everything ok?”. That old fashioned kind, caring attention is uncommonly found. This family style restaurant excels with top quality German food. The proof? The “regulars'” returning visits, bringing in their friends.
The signature apfelkuchen, or fresh apple cake is lovingly made by Arthur’s sister, from a generations- old family recipe with a touch of a soft cheese-reserve your piece, it runs out early! The Black Forest cake (5), is a lighter, more petite versionof some of the large, richer 1,500 calorie versions. It doesn’t weigh you down. The Walnut layer cake has crunchy walnuts inside, and on the icing. Occasionally, Paul may bake his plum cake (below)-we filled up on desserts!We got to meet a fun, handsome couple; customers Greg, in traditional southern German embroidered lederhosen, and Carmen Vasquez, in elegant dirndl.
There’s benefits to arriving late-we got to photograph staff and some not- shy guests, some in traditional southern German finery! Until October 30, there is an early menu, 4-6 pm, with eight main courses for only $14.95. Also, after 6 pm, there’s in house coupons for $5 off any two entrees, (not on other specials). What a way to sample some fine food, before season comes! Jaegerhaus, like nearby Cibao or IM Tapas, is an “under the radar” family run restaurant, with regulars filling the seats. It’s packed in the season. Come visit, and find yourself smiling and talking with those nearby. Get there in time for the apple cake-it goes fast. Enjoy deliciously prepared food, and make new friends-we did!
3652 Tamiami Trail North, Suite 110 (behind Mel’s Diner), Naples 239-649-5633