We had a big (~10 people) birthday dinner at Schmidt's on Friday night. Although the party went well the service was horrible and the food just ok.
The thing that stood out most about the experience was the slow and uninterested service. It started when we first arrived when they sat us at a table too small for our party. This was repeated not once, but twice.
Then they asked us for our drink orders going around the table. After taking three orders the waiter left to go wait on some other tables, leaving the rest of the table waiting and confused. After 20 minutes they brought our drinks (20 minutes to pour 4 beers?) and still didn't ask the rest of the table for their orders. Then finally we had to ask them to come take the rest of the orders. After going through our orders we waited another 20 minutes for the second round of beers.
This was all before the restaurant filled up.
When we called to make the reservation we asked if it would be ok to order a la carte instead of eating family style (which they suggest for large parties - but with a collection of vegans and meat lovers, graduate students and well paid techies it's just too complicated to do family style). The person on the phone said 'no problem' but when we got there they said that they didn't want to serve us a la carte and made a big deal about the fact that we didn't know the name of the person who told us that it was ok.
For the appetizers they repeated the performance with the drinks, taking just a couple orders before disappearing for 20 minutes.
When the food did arrive some people wanted more beer but were told by the waiter that he was 'busy'. We walked up to the bar instead to order and get our drinks. While not horrible, is a bit odd when you're being served in a restaurant by a waiter.
Food & Drink:
They have a selection of German beers, including some nostalgic ones for me (Fruh on tap, which is just an ok beer but if you lived near Cologne for a year holds a special place in your heart). I was excited to see Berliner Weisse 'mit schuss' available and I'm a huge fan of the woodruff (waldmeister) syrup. When I was little I would be sent into the forest to collect it in the spring when snow was still on the ground and we would make special woodruff flavored dishes. Unfortunately they only have the artificial flavored syrup, which, to be fair, is more common in Germany as well, but I was hoping some of the Northern Californian respect for fresh ingredients had rubbed off on them. Solid German beer selection, slightly high (I think the cheapest pint is $8) prices.
We ordered a meat plate appetizer. The meat was just ok and the bread not good at all. A somewhat lackluster and slightly dry (old? stale?) pumpernickle. The German couple in our group frowned at the bread - I think because Germans take pride in the quality of their bread and this just seemed like a bad advertisement conforming to all the bad expectations about dark bread.
Of course, it's probably a mistake to take German people to a German restaurant - I know that when I'm in Germany the last thing I want to do is go to an American restaurant for hamburgers (uniformly horrible in Germany btw.)
The entre plates were surprisingly small - sort of jammed onto appetizer sized plates. This was my first (and maybe only?) time going to Schmidt's so I can't say if this is what they normally do or if they just ran out of regular plates. The schnitzel was ok but nothing special - maybe slightly over browned - but certainly without the great juicy-fatty-salty-crispy spark a good schnitzel has.
The Kassler (smoked pork chop) was way way too sweet and a bit too salty. Germans generally use a lot less sugar than American's and this was not in the German style.
Spaetzle (fried egg noodles) was ok but there were too many burned pieces.
While waiting for the bathroom I noticed one of the kitchen staff opening a large plastic bag of sausages. Which sort of surprised me - I would think that a fancier german place selling $12 sausages would consider making their own. In the end it's just the same sausages you could get anywhere. I didn't have a chance to try one to check.
We had preordered apfelstrudel for desert for the entire table (with birthday candle). We were told however that there were only five pieces left so we wouldn't be able to all have a slice.
That said, the strudel was great. Flaky, not to sweet. Just right. It's too bad that the only flawless item had such limited distribution....
Despite all the problems I think everyone enjoyed themselves. In the end company is more important than food.
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