Robyn Visits Old Europe Restaurant

Old Europe Restaurant, originally uploaded by Simone USA.

When it comes to restaurants – how much kitsch is too much? When the inside looks like a cruise ship art gallery? When there’s enough miscellaneous stuff on the walls to rival TGIFridays? At Old Europe in Glover Park (2434 Wisconsin Ave NW), you’re just as saturated with their German theme as the restaurant’s brats are with sauces. Flags of Deutschland’s 16 states, old paintings of the German countryside, and European china hang on the walls; the wait staff is decked out in authentic Bavarian costumes, and – no lie – a little old lady plays traditional music on the piano throughout the week. Old Europe restaurant has been around for 60 years, and serves every German staple imaginable: bratwurst, weisswurst (white hot dog), even zwiebelrostbraten (er, rib steak hot dog).

While the menu is pretty much meat and dumplings, it’s an appetizing assortment. Sausages are cooked through—hearty and not grease-laden. Their Schweineschnitzel, the German version of chicken-fried steak, is pork pounded thin, breaded, fried, and topped with savory sauce. What’s not to like? Imported beer and wines are a must though, if anything to act as a buffer to the carnival of all things Deutsch going on within the dining room. The restaurant’s enjoyably tacky appearance should be experienced at least once by any DC dweller (and Germans are known for being enjoyably tacky). And having consumed a lot of Kassler Rippchen and Rheinischer Sauerbraten and Schwarzwälder Hühnerbrüstchen while I lived in Berlin a while back, I think the food is quite legit. Very hard to pronounce, but legit regardless.

Any fans out there?

15 Comment

  • am i ever a fan. I love this place. calling it a theme restaurant doesnt do it justice. it IS german. At least thats my understanding. that it was opened by Germans in the 40s. This is no TGIfridays or Planet Hollywood or Buca De Beppo but I guess those are the glasses this generation views things through. Everything is a theme… I just think of it as a German Restaurant that has been around for a long long time. My only complaint is that its a little high priced or Id go there a lot more often.

  • Huge fan. The food is definitely not for the fainthearted, it’s authentic and hearty. Make a point of going in the spring during asparagus season when every dish is seved with a pound of the most perfectly cooked asparagus you’ll ever have.

    Entrees are a bit expensive, but the beer prices are quite reasonable by DC standards so it balances out. And the experience is priceless.

  • Do not confuse a wiessewurst with a hot dog. The only thing they have in common are ground up bits. They are hugley different.

  • @Steve:

    agreed. weisswurst is delicious, and generally made of veal i believe.

  • I’m guessing that Donald Rumsfeld won’t be posting that he’s a fan…

  • E – you don’t want to know what is in it. Actually – yeah its veal. That’s what I tell my self when I am eating, especially in Germany.

  • as a German i was told i had to go at least once … which i did some years ago and i have to say i was not very impressed. yes they had all of the typically german dishes (even though no german actually eats them any more, they are just a tourist trap) but then they also had a set of US-German dishes like the salmon tartar or the chocolate cake with coconut (who ever thought of adding coconut to a “German” chocolate cake?).

    the place to me felt like a disney fantasy of what germany might be, but not of what germany is.

  • saf

    Carsten – It’s not (or, it wasn’t originally) a “German Chocolate Cake,” it was a “German’s Chocolate Cake.” German’s was a type of chocolate sold by Baker’s (still is): http://whatscookingamerica.net/History/Cakes/GermanChocolateCake.htm

    And my family still eats many of the typical German dishes (although only once in a while). Then again, we are German-American, not FOB. I have some recently arrived Czech friends who eat those dishes…

  • Carsten, I dunno, the cafeteria at the University of Bonn (top floor) would actually serve Schweinshaxe, so at least the students barely above the poverty level would eat traditional food once a week, well, at least 20 years ago… I love this plce. I understand from a colleague that there are better places, but this one is close, and even though pricey, I always enjoy it, and it has a better atmosphere than the Mozart Cafe downtown.

  • my wife is german and i’ve spent a ton of time in germany. love love love this place. mostly because it just feels like some local small town german place.

    just cuz it aint the hoffbrauhaus doesnt mean its not german (irony if you couldnt tell)

  • We used to have our fantasy football draft in their basement. German beer, potato pancakes and hot waitresses in octoberfest outfits serving. I’m a fan.

  • I ate at Old Europe about four years ago and was underwhelmed. While it’s quite a hike from the city, Schmankerl Stube up in Hagerstown has the best German food in the entire region, hands-down.

  • this place looks good. i wanna go there!

  • @DCDireWolf: Hilarious that you mention the waitresses. Every time I stopped by, they were all pushing 65.

  • Maybe times have changed, but a few years back when we were there, all in their teens or twenties, and very attractive! Maybe they keep the hot ones in the basement.

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