The Dallas Morning News

By MIKE PETERS / Staff Writer 04.28.2006

COME FOR THE WURST? You’re in luck: At Bavarian Grill, there’s plenty and it’s terrific. Order an entree plate of sausages – mix and match bratwurst, weisswurst, knackwurst, smoked brat and Nürnberger – or order the platter as an appetizer for the table and the kitchen will slice everything into nibbles.

COME FOR THE SCENE: That doesn’t disappoint, either. The Alpine decor charms without ever becoming Disney Bavaria. Waitresses sport dirndls and milkmaid braids; the male staff runs to shorts and suspenders. Images of the German countryside sigh from the walls, which are also decorated with charming plates and steins.

Steins at a German restaurant, of course, are no mere decoration. The staff will keep yours filled and busy, with toasts to every birthday in the house – and to the day of the week (“It’s Tuesday! Prosit!”). A stein club invites regulars to test their palates and expand their beer lists. More than a dozen brews, a thoughtful mix of lights and darks, are pumped from the taps nightly.

But the party isn’t just for adults: Kids are welcome and catered to by the staff.

MEAT OF THE MATTER: Jäger schnitzel is still the star of the menu – the pork is pounded, breaded, fried and served up so big it flops off the plate. The cornflake-crunchy breading is as flavorful and buttery as ever, but there’s still not enough of the yummy brown mushroom gravy to slather all of the meat.

Schweinebraten, Bavarian-style pork roast, was a hit at our table. The succulent meat is served up in a puddle of savory sauce, the precise reason that Gott im Himmel created caraway.

SEASONAL SPECIALS: Roast duck, a half-bird rendered crispy and delicately herbed, was a delight with a potato pancake and spring vegetables. The kitchen was less together with foil-broiled trout. The centerpiece fish was tender and gloriously pungent with green onions, lemon and wine, but the sides were lukewarm if not actually cool, a disappointment that was repeated on a second visit a week later.

On other platters, sides were uniformly generous, hearty and served at the right temperature: tart, al dente red cabbage; a bread dumpling that would make any Middle European kitchen proud; creamed spinach; and a lusty herbed potato salad served warm.

PARTY TIME: It’s possible to go to Bavarian Grill for a quiet evening, but why sit far away from that lively German music? The band can stretch yodeling from art to parody – sometimes in the same chorus – and you’ll never think of the Sound of Music the same way again after you’ve heard the Elvis version of “Edelweiss.” You may hear the “Westphalia Waltz” played with a grand passion – or the theme from Hogan’s Heroes in a sly moment, just to see if you’re paying attention.

Birthdays are a big deal here: Large mugs of dark beer really add a fuzzy aureole of fun to goofy hats and the chicken dance. It’s a favorite destination for anniversary dinners, too; fellow diners here can always be counted on to cheer a waltzing couple on the makeshift dance floor.

THE POLKA SACRILEGE: Polkas, we’re told from the bandstand, are sprightly tunes in Austrian hands but rendered geriatric in Bohemian dance halls. But it’s all in good fun, and before Czechs can take much umbrage, the band has the good grace to acknowledge that the song we all know as the “Beer Barrel Polka” was written by a Czech (Jaromír Vejvoda, if it comes up on Jeopardy). So roll out the barrel of fun!

SWEET FINISHES: Apple strudel, which has an iconic reputation here, seemed flaccid on our visits. But we were totally won over by bread pudding studded with cherries and drizzled with a kirsch-kissed vanilla sauce.

Published in The Dallas Morning News: 04.28.06