So… Now I can say I’ve been to a German buffet. Until tonight, I didn’t realize such a thing existed here in Deutschland. I thought it was strictly an American thing. But no, if you know where to go, you can eat like a horse for not so many euros. And now that I’ve done it, I don’t know if I want to do it again. But I am very happy to share my experiences for the curious.
You may be wondering how Bill and I wound up eating at the Restaurant Waldachtal tonight. It’s quite simple. I fell prey to Facebook advertising. Bill and I currently live in Unterjettingen, which is on the edge of the Black Forest. I get ads for businesses in this area. One ad that kept popping up on my timeline was for the Restaurant Waldachtal, which is apparently somehow affiliated with a large hotel in the little town of Waldachtal. They kept advertising their Brazilian Steakhouse night, which looked exotic and fun. Incidentally, they do the Brazilian thing on Friday nights. On Saturday nights, they do the “American Buffet” for 18 euros a person. That, right there, should have been a big clue… as well as the info for bus tours. Always remember that German style American food often loses something in the translation.
The sign at the bottom of the hill.
Bill has been in Morocco all week and we needed a night out. We decided to head to Waldachtal, a town that, as the crow flies, isn’t too far from where we live. It’s kind of southwest of Unterjettingen, on the way to Freudenstadt. I realize that many of my more local readers will still think this is a really long way from them. The fact is, they’d be right. I’m not all that sure that the vast majority of my local readers will want to bother to visit this place unless they are either big fans of buffets or they are very curious about the Brazilian Steakhouse deal (which I confess Bill and I still are).
Shades of Dirty Dancing…
I made an online reservation last night. That was ABSOLUTELY the right thing to do. Evidently the “American Buffet” on Saturday nights is very popular and the place was packed this evening. Not only was the restaurant hosting a wedding reception, there was also a birthday party and lots of hungry families had congregated for dinner. And yes, at about 7:30pm, a large busload of tourists showed up.
Just getting to this restaurant was challenging, because the GPS tried to put us on a back road that was closed. Once we took the long way, which wasn’t actually too far from where we live, we managed to find the large restaurant on the hillside. It kind of has the look of a resort… because I believe it is a resort. I was catching Dirty Dancing vibes as I climbed the steps to the door. When we entered the very busy restaurant, we were met by a middle aged woman who appeared to be extremely pissed off and completely over her job.
She stopped and asked us what us what we wanted. Bill told her we had reservations. She consulted what appeared to be a repurposed flip chart and noticed our name. Apparently we didn’t have a table assigned to us because we must have been among the last people to reserve. She turned to Bill, totally exasperated, and said, “Kein Tisch!” (no table) as she made a helpless gesture with her arms.
I am generally very patient with wait staff because I once waited tables myself and have felt the pain. Still, the place was a zoo and I was wondering if we really should stay for dinner. Finally, the lady told a younger woman to take us to a table for six. We would have to share it with another party. No biggie.
So we sat down, ordered a couple of weizens from a much cheerier and younger waitress, and I went to get my food while Bill hung out at the table and watched my purse. In order to get to the food, I walked past a crowded bar area, through a foyer, and down a narrow hall that appeared to be half of a wait station. Then the room opened into a larger dining area where there were several large, empty tables that were probably intended for the people who were arriving on the bus.
As promised, there were plenty of stations full of food. I found barbecued chicken, hamburger patties, duck, salmon, grilled shrimp, steaks, spare ribs, soups, salads, and sides. There was also a large dessert station. I was surprised by the sheer range of food available. Most of it was pretty good quality… probably better than what you’d find at a typical American buffet restaurant like Old Country Buffet. I also noticed it wasn’t populated by a lot of elderly people like American buffets often are. We saw mostly young and/or large families tonight.
Part of the buffet. There was more to my right and left and behind me.
They had curry and rice.
Spare ribs, which were pretty good, and potatoes that were just a hair underdone.
This was what I came back with. It was more than I could eat. The chicken was a hit. The sauce was kind of spicy… spicier than most things I’ve had in Germany. They had cheese sticks and onion rings, too. Actually, there was a whole lot of food to choose from and most of it was pretty good quality.
When I got back to the table, Bill informed me that the other folks who were sitting at our table were three young guys under age 20. I was immediately amused, because I have seen my fair share of young guys eating at buffets. I had a feeling these three guys were going to chow down. I was right. I was alone for a couple of minutes before the guys showed up and our waitress apologized that we had to share the table. It was not a problem, really. The guys were perfect gentlemen and kind of funny.
I told Bill I could see a stiff martini in his future.
There was a birthday party going on near our table, so there were a number of kids. This restaurant is, by the way, very kid friendly. I think kids, as a rule, love buffets. Imagine… they don’t have to wait; they can eat whatever and however much they want; and they are guaranteed dessert. In any case, because there were kids near us, we did have a few who entertained us. One little boy stopped and stared at us for a couple of minutes. Maybe he was puzzled because we were speaking English. Another girl, dressed in a fluffy pink frock with silver sparkles, had an ice cream cone and was entertaining herself and a few peers by holding the cone under a bright lamp and watching the ice cream melt. We got to hear them sing Happy Birthday in German and watched as the one year old birthday girl blew our her candle. The older kids enjoyed multiple ice cream cones.
And, of course, there were the young, fit looking lads who were sitting with us. They knew we were American because Bill warned them. I watched them each eat a large plate full of food. Then, they got up and headed back to the buffet. I said, “Bill, do you think they will come back with more meat or dessert?”
Bill and I both agreed they were going to load up on meat. Sure enough, that’s what they did. One of the smiled at me and said, “Round two.” as he dove in to another big plate of food. I don’t remember ever being able to eat like a young man, but I have watched a few of them put away some food. It’s always funny because they are obviously able to burn it off.
One of the young guys was wearing this jacket. I had to take a picture of the tag, because it was in English and rather amusing…
Bill got me dessert. I asked for a little tiramisu, but he brought that with a couple of cookies and a small scoop of raspberry ice cream. Always the provider! The tiramisu tasted good, but it was a bit heavier than what I’m used to. I wonder if they used quark instead of mascarpone cheese…
As we were eating dessert, the young waitress came back and told the young guys that she had a table open. They moved to a new spot, so I don’t know if they went back for thirds. She needn’t have bothered, though, because Bill and I were about done anyway. We just happened to get there first. We told the pissy older waitress that we wanted the check and she rolled her eyes, but apparently passed on the message to our younger, pluckier, server. After about fifteen minutes or so, the cheerier lass showed up with the bill, which came to 43 euros before the tip. After Bill paid, she gave us a coupon worth five euros off our next visit. Don’t know when that will be, but it was a nice gesture.
Bill is thrilled. He had to double check to make sure he didn’t try to pay in dirhams.
While we were waiting to settle up, I remarked that the Restaurant Waldachtal reminded me a little of the Marketplace at the Edelweiss Lodge in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. It sort of has the same ambiance, with murals on the walls, a gazebo, and a “beachy” themed area near the bar. The food is mostly better than what I remember at the Edelweiss and it’s a bit cheaper, but the ambiance is very much the same. It’s loud and raucous, like a college dining hall or… perhaps the AAFES food court. But, I will say, I thought the chicken was good and the spare ribs were decent. The steak appeared to be of dubious quality. The burgers were very thin and unimpressive and, if you wanted cheese, it wouldn’t be melted, but you could have as many burgers and steaks as you wanted.
We may try this restaurant again on a Friday night, just to see if their Brazilian Steakhouse experiment is worthwhile. I doubt we’ll do the American Buffet again, but now at least I can tell people that I’ve been to a German style American Buffet and lived to tell the tale. And, if you happen to be near the Black Forest and like buffets, maybe it would be worth visiting. Just make sure you reserve first, especially on a Saturday night. Tonight, the place was packed and, even though we had a reservation, we wondered for a couple of minutes if we would be seated. Frankly, my guess is that most of the Americans around here would probably do better to look elsewhere.