Schnitzel Ranch [4/5]
3.25 (65%) 4 votes

Schnitzel Ranch
I’ve had several requests to review Schnitzel Ranch (Add your request to The List!) and after several false starts, the hubby and I finally made it out their way. Located on Pratt, just east of the Parkway, they are fairly convenient to downtown Huntsville which made it easy to pop in for a Saturday night dinner.

We were cheerfully greeted upon our arrival and shown to our table. The decor consisted of beer steins hung from the ceiling and small “flags” placed on each table which you could hoist to indicate you required a server’s attention. The low key decor was matched with an unhurried, laid back atmosphere. The other patrons included several other couples, some friends, and a goodly portion of families with young kids.

The “hall of fame” on the wall suggests that it isn’t always this low key. Earning a spot on the hall of fame requires drinking an inordinately large glass of beer (think 2 ft tall) in as quick of a time as possible. For those who prefer to take their beer on in smaller bouts, they also serve some closer to average sized glasses of draft beer. For the non beer drinkers, they also serve wine and the non alcoholic Apfelsaft-Schorle or sparkling apple drink.

We settled for soft drinks and began reviewing the menu. I was tempted by the soft pretzels on the list of appetizers, but seeing as I had already informed the hubby that dessert was required, I refrained. Instead we went straight to our main courses. The hubby opted for chicken cordon blue with kroketten and mashed potatoes as his sides. I selected the sauerbraten which was listed as coming with potato dumplings and cabbage. However, the listed sides are apparently just suggestions and, as they were out of the potato dumpling anyway, I went with pan fried potatoes and the cucumber salad. Our sever was gracious in helping us select offerings, shouting back to the kitchen in German to verify the availability of different items.

My cucumber salad came out with our bread, which was served sliced, on individual plates.

Schnitzel Ranch
Our server announced that the bread was one slice each of “farmer’s” and pumpernickel bread. The “farmer’s” bread was soft with a chewy crust and an earthy flavor. The crust reminded me of the strong flavor of rye, but the interior of the bread was much milder. It paired well with the butter. The pumpernickel bread had a bolder, oatier flavor. It seemed to need a little something, but the butter wasn’t that something.

Schnitzel Ranch
My cucumber salad was served wonderfully cold, made up of sliced of crispy cucumber and onion in a thin, lightly creamy sauce. Pepper flakes were visible throughout the dish but the bright yellow color appeared to be due to a mustard powder of some sort which gave the sauce a bit of a tang.

While we waited for our main dishes, we listed to the light Christmas music and I was surprised to find that our table was just wide enough that despite the relative quiet it was still a bit difficult to hear each other.

After much conversation, we began to notice that something was missing, namely, our food. Just then, our server popped by to let us know that unfortunately, an order from a large party in the back room had made it to the kitchen just before our order and it would be a bit longer. She promised to bring us more bread and headed off.

When she returned about 10 minutes later she came bearing bread, our dinners, and several coupons to make up for the wait, including one good for a free entree. This didn’t appear to be a standard thing, I half suspect the coupons had already been redeemed once by other diners, but I was impressed that she was proactive enough to both recognize that there was a problem and to make amends before we ever said a word.

My sauerbraten (beef in gravy), shown at the top of the post, consisted of beef which was falling apart tender. The gravy was sharp and tangy, a flavor I was not expecting. Once I got over the surprise, it was an enjoyable flavor. The beef itself was cooked in a marinade which had a similar sharpness, though it was more subtle than the gravy. It was similar to the bite of strong citrus–acidic but not unpleasant.

Schnitzel Ranch
The pan fried potatoes were well cooked with some pieces sporting crunchy skins. The pan frying lent them a light coat of oil and some flavor, but they still required salting at the table.

Schnitzel Ranch
Schnitzel Ranch
The hubby enjoyed his cordon bleu and potatoes. He praised the texture of both the kroketten (breaded and fried mashed potatoes) and the mashed potatoes, deeming the overall fare good, simple food.

After dinner, we asked our server for her dessert recommendations. She immediately expressed her regret that the black forest cake was sold out and, after some consideration, pointed us toward the bienenstich, a sweet bread with a baked topping of honeyed almonds, filled with vanilla pastry cream. We were full, so we opted to get it to go.

Schnitzel Ranch
When we ate it later, I was won over by the dreamy vanilla pastry cream. Smooth, light, and full of flavor, it was the best part of the dessert. The cake was light, with a denser crumb–mostly being a pleasant vehicle for the pastry cream. The toasted almonds added a bit of crunch and some visual texture.

The food was uncomplicated and straight-forward but well prepared. Combined with the understated decor, the overall impression was one of home cooked meals. The flavors tasted a bit sharp to me, but the consistency of that between dishes suggested that it may simply be that the dishes are less Americanized than others I have tried. The meal was enjoyable and I was happy to see that their children’s fare consisted simply of smaller schnitzel portions instead of the omnipresent chicken strips and hamburgers. We will be back to sample some of the other dishes.

Total for the meal: $34.76 (Includes two chef’s specials, two soft drinks, and one slice cake, does not account for the coupon we received.)

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