My wife, my dad and I went out to a fun restaurant in Scarborough last Friday for German food. Little Bavaria is a small family-run place in a strip plaza on the north side of Eglinton Ave. E. about 70-80m east of Markham Road. I grew up not far from there, and my parents still live in the neighbourhood. The establishment has been there as long as I can recall, although this was my first visit.
The restaurant serves simple, hearty fare from the south of Germany, the culturally distinctive Free State of Bavaria, a long established - but cranky - member of the German federation with its capital in Munich. The simple boxy interior is festooned with souvenir and nick-nacks from Germany, Bavaria in particular. We were there just after 6pm and the place filled quickly with empty-nesters, many of whom were German-speaking a good sign we thought.
The menu was replete with meat. Primarily pork and veal schnitzel dishes. I had an advantage over my wife and dad because I knew a little German from my university days. The menus were bilingual and provided evocative names and descriptions of the food in German. On the other hand the English descriptions were fairly curt. All entrées came with a choice of potato or spaetzle, a kind of bland but freshly-cooked noodley dumpling, and mixed vegetables or warm sauerkraut (quite appetizing actually) or freshly cooked red cabbage. A very modest green salad is also included.
Overall the food was well-prepared, robustly flavourful and entertainingly unique. And we had fun. Although there were some hitches with the meal, nothing out of line with hundreds of other family-run places in the city.
My Dad and I started by splitting a pickled herring starter served with sour cream. It tasted fresh, not like it came from a jar, which was a surprise to some extent. Ive seen fresh pickled herring all over Roncesvalles and in selected delis elsewhere. (I love a good rollmop.) But here in deepest Scarbs?! Good for them! As noted, I grew up in the neighbourhood, and over the years there were a number of kids in my classes from German homes. But the community is changing, and the German community presumably is much diminished. Although there are still a few German businesses in the area (Café Bavaria, Gerhards Bakery and Fabians Deli most notably), my starter boded well that this restaurant also offered freshness.
We had a couple of Hacker-Pschorr Weissbiers (a wheat beer served with a wedge of lemon) which worked well with such food on such a mild day. German wheatbeer is dryer and more hopped that its Belgian equivalent (known as witbier or blanche), and does not sit as heavily on the stomach. Its nice with a meal. They also served another brand of German beer in the standard 1/3 and ½ litre glasses (Spaten brand, I think.) . The drinks were served in the appropriate stemware, too, which was fantastic until we each wanted a second drink with our entrées. The waitress would not pour our second round until we had finished our first beers. The reason? The restaurant only had five glasses and three German gentlemen at another table were also drinking wheatbeer.
Our entrées were wonderful. My wife had a Rahm-schnitzel (schnitzel in cream sauce), my dad had schnitzel in a black pepper sauce, and I had a Kassler Rippchen, a smoked porkchop dish. We all enjoyed our meal tremendously, although admittedly this was due partly to the novelty of it all. My wifes Rahm-schnitzel was actually slightly more flavourful than my dads black pepper sauce, but they both found their respective meals enjoyable. My porkchops were good too. Very(!) flavourful. Smoked and then freshly grilled, they were served without sauce. The flavour was very strong, very bacony, and nice with the sauerkraut. But perhaps not to everybodys taste. The servings were generous, too big schnitzels and two chops for me. The only disappointment was my wifes home-fried potatoes which were quite plain, partly overdone, and not as enjoyable as the spaetzle.
We were too full for sweets, and did not examine the dessert menu.
The only other hitch came at the end of the meal. The power had gone out about halfway through our meal, and was still out when we were done. (Although food had continued to fly out of the kitchen.) The waitress - who had until that time been quite congenial - suddenly became very stern and European about paying with a credit card. No, she didnt have an old style credit card device. Yes, cash was all she would take. So in the end, my dad had to chip in for a meal that was supposed to be a treat for him. $90 with tips and drinks.
I also noticed when I went to pay that nobody who worked in the place was German. Our waitress was Polish and the two cooks appeared to be Mediterranean.
However within the limitations of your expectations for a local restaurant, Little Bavaria was a good one. My dad was enthusiastic and promised to go back in order to try a few other of the two dozen or so entrées. Legit German food, too.