Aug 29, 2011

A commoner reviews Gerst Bavarian Haus, Evansville, Ind

Earlier this month, as fate would have it, I accompanied a mysterious and exotic Gypsy and her equally mysterious daughter to Evansville, Ind., and the University of Southern Indiana, where Gypsy’s daughter was going to school.  Our mission was to help her move into her new apartment on campus, so we hitched the Gypsy wagon and off to Evansville we went. 

The school’s location was very scenic, nestled in the hilly suburbs east of the city.  Although I could live without the roundabout that greeted you as you entered the campus.  Honestly, what is the purpose of that?  Maybe I’m just getting more directionally challenged in my old age.

The entrance looked nice, though.
But this blog is less about our trip to USI and more about where we dined that Saturday night – the Gerst Bavarian Haus.  We were looking for something out of the ordinary in a town that seems to have cornered the market on chain restaurants (even more so than Springfield), so I did some research on Urbanspoon and other websites, got an additional personal recommendation, and Gypsy treated us to an authentic German dinner.

The restaurant is located in what seemed to be to be an older section of Evansville close to downtown that had experienced some revitalization.  In fact, the neighborhood seemed like a lot of fun with several bars and restaurants doing well that night, and a small park taking up a city block next to Gerst. 

Approaching the Gerst Bavarian Haus
The restaurant itself was located in an old hardware store, and they had preserved the exterior and all of its old signs.  Our biggest choice once arriving was where to sit … it was a nice evening and the outdoor seating looked inviting, but there was also the bar area on the left side of the restaurant and the traditional booths and table seating on the right.  They even had the old-school red and white checkered tablecloths.  We opted to avoid the traditional long bar (I didn’t want to be too bad of an influence on a Gypsy’s daughter) and settled for one of the classic dark wooden booths with the high backs and coat hanger on the side.     

A happy mother and daughter
As I often do with someplace I’ve never dined at before, I struggled to make the right selection, so decided a combination dinner was in order.  For a very affordable price, I sampled the smoked pork chop, beef stroganoff and sauerbraten, along with sides of red cabbage and cucumber and onion salad. 

I worked on the pork chop first.  Notice the remains hiding behind the stroganoff and sauerbraten.
The beef stroganoff was outstanding, and the red cabbage was cooked to perfection and deliciously tangy as you would expect.  The cucumber and onion salad was simple yet delicious; the sour cream sauce held the combination together very well.   The pork chop was also excellent, and it alone would have been a sizable entrée.  The only minor disappointment was the sauerbraten, which was, well, ordinary … not much different than any roast beef coming out of a slow cooker.  But all in all, the sampler was a great representation of German-style cooking. 

Of course, you can’t eat at a German restaurant without having a couple of good beers.  At least I can’t (look hard and you’ll notice Gypsy ordered red wine). 

The fishbowl was hard to resist.
Now, if you had a choice between a mug-sized beer and a fishbowl, which would you choose?  Especially if the fishbowl was only on average a dollar more?  I didn’t overdo it, however. I started with a Hacker Pschorr Munich Lager, one of my favorite German brews, and for my second fishbowl I decided to try Gerst Haus’ own premium amber.  Now I know why this place is recommended as much for their brewery as their food. 

I’m looking forward to more trips to Evansville and in particular to Gerst Haus in the future.  A strong recommendation.

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