Name: Evi Kalus
Occupation: Land Planner
Lives In: Wilton Manors
Restaurant Pick: Old Heidelberg
Reviewed: Old Heidelberg
We arrived at 7pm. We were seated almost immediately. We ordered our drinks first with an appetizer of Potato Pancakes. We ordered Liebfraumilch which is a light sweet German wine by the glass first and then got a ½ carafe. Pretty reasonably priced. The potato pancakes came with sour cream and apple sauce. I like them plain or I eat them with my meal with gravy on them. They were crunchy and not greasy at all, very good. I am picky about my German food especially potato pancakes because I make German food and potato pancakes are my specialty. My dad is from Germany. We then ordered our meals. Meals come with salad or soup. I recommended to my two friends who have never been there before, to order the potato soup instead of the salad. It is a broth based potato soup that is seasoned perfectly and you can tell that the veggies in the soup were sautéed in bacon. The potato soup is always excellent and is my most favorite dish at this restaurant. I ordered the German Beef Rouladen. A thinned out steak rolled up stuffed with onions, bacon, & pickles served with a hearty beef gravy. The meal also included a bread dumpling, mashed potatoes, and red cabbage. Germans love their starch.
I wanted the Spaetzle. So, I ordered it extra. Spaetzle is a starchy thick German noodle. The red cabbage was sweet with a hint of bacon flavor. I have had this dish before at the Old Heidelberg, it was as good as it has been in the past. You get two Rouladens. The meal is big enough for two. My friend got the Jager Schnitzel (schnitzel with mushroom gravy) and my other friend got the Stroganoff with Prime Rib. Both looked good. I have had the Jager Schnitzel before. One of my favorites. The Stroganoff looked good, but it is a little different then what you usually see as Stroganoff had lots of green and red peppers in it and a few mushrooms. For dessert, we had the Chocolate Mousse Cake and Apple Strudel with vanilla sauce. Usually, I get the Black Forest Cake which is pretty good, but I thought to try something different. The cake was good - very creamy but not overly sweet. The Strudel was good, but the vanilla sauce was cold. It would have been better warm. Meanwhile, while we were eating they had folk dancers doing the “German Slap Dance” known as “Schuhplattler” and playing the cowbells dressed in lederhosen and dirndl dresses. Actually, the waitresses always where dirndl dresses regardless if it is Oktoberfest or not. They usually have some entertainment on the weekends usually a guy playing the accordion, but during Oktoberfest they have special entertainment. The guy playing the accordion was also there playing 70’s music. Too funny. We left at 9:50pm. It was about $40-$45 per person without wine. Three people with wine, appetizers , dessert, & coffee was $160.
Name: Tony Andre
Lives In: Miami Beach
Restaurant Pick: Kabobji
Reviewed: Old Heidelberg
Old Heidelberg in Fort Lauderdale makes a distinct first impression. The restaurant is a true throwback to a 1950’s or 1960’s German-American Hofbrau. The décor is very woody and antiquated like your grandma’s house. You can tell that the patrons are regulars and many of them are German or of German descent. Anyone who knows anything about dining knows when eating ethnic cuisine if the restaurant is occupied by representative members of that ethnic group, that’s a very good sign. The staff at Old Heidelberg was very friendly and warm and the patrons were too for that matter. A couple of patrons came up to our table and spoke to our infant daughter and exchanged pleasantries. It made for a very comfortable and affable atmosphere. The food was hearty, satisfying and of very good quality. We started with the Potato Pancakes and the Sausage Sampler and both were excellent. The sausages were grilled and were juicy and flavorful served with mustard, potato salad and a very good sauerkraut. The potato pancakes were also fresh and piping hot served with apple sauce and sour cream. They were crisp on the outside yet still very tender on the inside, some of the best potato pancakes I’ve had.
The entrée I ordered was my least favorite dish. To the restaurant’s credit I just think I should’ve ordered something else (like more sausages or a schnitzel). I ordered Roasted Sliced Pork Loin in a brown gravy. I thought the brown gravy overpowered the pork loin (admittedly not a cut I love). The pork loin was sliced very thin yet was still tender, but the brown gravy was a bit too salty for my taste. The dumpling and mashed potato served as sides were delicious however, so was the Spaetzle we ordered. My wife ordered the Bavarian Lamb Shank which was served in an identical manner to the pork dish I had. Her dish was superior, the lamb shank stood up to that brown gravy much better than the pork loin did. Normally after a meal that dense and filling I would skip dessert, but felt it was my duty to the Check Please South Florida faithful to power through and order it. My wife and I split the Black Forest Cake which was delightful. It was simultaneously light and rich with excellent flavor. It was one of the best Black Forest Cakes I’ve ever had, a real treat. While German food is not “go to” cuisine for me, I generally enjoyed my meal at Old Heidelberg. The food was quintessential comfort food served in a convivial setting.
Name: Gina Jeffries
Occupation: Business Owner
Lives In: Miami
Restaurant Pick: Whisk
I pulled up to Old Heidelberg with trepidation; I’m not going to lie. I asked a girlfriend from West Palm to meet me there who happens to be first generation German, hoping to get a leg up on this new experience by learning correct pronunciation of dishes and recommendations on what to order for the full experience. I had never eaten at a German restaurant, besides Oktoberfest tents and the Germany pavilion at Epcot Center, so I had to talk myself into being open minded and surrendering control to my personal guide. If I didn’t like the food, would I be some kind of reverse racist anti Aryan human being, I wondered? I had never considered myself an elitist in terms of food and restaurants, but this was making me question myself. Good restaurants though, like good food, have the power to make you self-reflect.
Since I had arrived early, I decided to start with training wheels and head for the deli, where I was met with incredibly friendly women and rows of imported German products. The cases were filled with sausages and deli meats and when I inquired whether it was the same sausage served in the restaurant they answered in the affirmative. I crossed the parking lot to the restaurant and walked in and the first thing I noticed, besides the lack of windows and natural light, were the endless tchotchkes lined up on shelves. My friend was late and there was nowhere to sit, so I perused the shelves of dolls looking coldly down on me and giant beer steins hanging out waiting for some action. Yvonne, the owner, was friendly and I chatted with her a bit regarding her restaurant, how long they had been in business, and complimented her handsome son whose pictures were framed near the hostess station.
Our table was in the middle of the restaurant so we had a front row seat to all the action. Women in dirndl whizzed by, hair in braids, and the accordion player had started with the oom pah pah when we took our seats. I oriented myself by checking out yet more tchotchkes on shelves above all the tables. Silk flower arrangements, glass boots intended to be filled with beer, and rusty replicas of cannons were all spectators to my first experience at Old Heidelberg. We started our meal with Potato Pancakes and the Sausage Sampler. The pancakes were crisp and tasted of onion, well complimented by the sweetness of the applesauce. The sausages snapped when chewed, a testament to their pork casings and the expert way they were fried. The smokiness of the Bratwurst with the tanginess of the mustard and the acidity of the sauerkraut they were served with may have been the perfect bite of the night. For a brief moment I was able to enjoy my food and ignore the first rousing rendition of the Chicken Dance.I liked the Lentil Soup well enough, though I found it slightly under seasoned and kind of unmemorable.
Then dinner came. I ordered the Schweinebraten at my companion’s recommendation, which was smothered in thick brown gravy and came with a potato dumpling, mashed potatoes, and more sauerkraut. Not that I’m complaining. I happen to be a huge fan of sauerkraut. Four years ago when I was pregnant I consumed it voraciously directly from the jar, and probably frightened my husband because he asked me on more than one occasion to please, whatever I did, refrain from drinking the brine. The gravy tasted sweetly of the beer which was its base, and the undertones of caraway and mustard were present in the flavor as well. The dumpling, although tasty, was very heavy. My companion assured me that it was authentic in both preparation and taste, so maybe thick, dense, bricklike dumplings are just not to my liking or something I enjoy eating. The pork was thinly sliced, incredibly tender, and delicious, especially when eaten with the sauerkraut or the side of spaetzle I ordered. Those noodles were incredible. Light, crispy fried on one side, tasting lightly of butter and parsley. The flavor was delicate and the texture of those house made noodles was incredible. Dinner ended with a cheesecake which was literally a cheese flavored cake. It was the one thing my companion turned her nose at, but one of the things that I really enjoyed. The slice was crumbly yet moist, and tasted lightly of cheese, not too sweet that the cheese flavor was overpowered by sugar. It was nothing like American cheesecake, which is heavy and rich. This was rich and moist with delicate flavor. It may not have been what my companion was used to in terms of German cheesecake, but I had let her be the expert all night and wasn’t about to let her deny me the right to enjoy this extraordinary dessert. I polished it off myself. Then as if he knew we were about to be departing the accordion player started with the chicken dance once again, a fitting farewell to my German dining experience (even though polka is actually Polish, not German).
I would probably not visit the Old Heidelberg again. If I have relatives coming in from out of town who want to have fun, I would recommend the restaurant to them and then see what they have to say. I could also see it as a fun outing for my grandmother’s assisted living facility, and will probably suggest it as an outing to the entertainment director there. The median age of diners in the restaurant was about 65, so they would fit right in. The ambience was lively and maybe their blood will pump a little harder to the beat of the tuba playing polka jams. As for the self-reflection, I learned something about myself by attending this restaurant. I take food, especially good food, seriously. Maybe in that way I am a food elitist. I just like my food straight up on my plate. No tchotchkes everywhere, no rowdy accordions and glass boots full of beer, no cultural clichés, just good food. It tends to speak for itself and doesn’t need bells and whistles.
Location: 900 W. State Road 84, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33315
Type of Cuisine: German International
Meals Served: Lunch and Dinner
Accommodations for Children: Children menu