A new German restaurant? Now that's interesting. We have plenty of Italian dining places and lots of Asian spots, too. And you don't have to look too far to find Mexican.
But German? There aren't as many of them as there once were, especially to the north of the city. So I really looked forward to visiting Black Forest Adler, and the fact that the place serves authentic food only made things that much better.
Just about every item on the extensive menu is traditional German here -- salads, soups, schnitzels, pork, chicken, wurst and vegetables. Which hardly comes as a surprise when you find out that Chef Gerhard Braun is from, and once cooked near, Stuttgart, Germany, in the Black Forest area.
He always felt at home in Western New York, though. Braun's sister has been living in Western New York for 43 years and he'd been visiting her since he was 18. And while he was in the neighborhood, he happened to like visiting garage sales. He even met a woman while looking over the merchandise. The former Laura Brachmann is a Tonawanda native whose grandparents came from Germany where -- guess what? -- they once operated a restaurant called The Adler (means eagle in English). No surprise then when the couple later married. So in 2010 there was no question what the name of their restaurant would be. Black Forest Adler opened about a month ago.
It's a cheerful, casual place. Large, with both booths and tables and exceptional friendly personnel who all seem to be smiling. Naturally, we had to begin our meal with Potato Pancakes ($5.80) -- three of them, thin as could be. Accompanied by applesauce, they were tasty and slightly crunchy.
Even better was the Special Salad ($6.80), served, the menu told us "German style." Also, "home style" and it could not have been fresher. Picture scoops of several traditional salads -- cucumber/dill, grated carrot, corn and bean, macaroni and German potato salad in a deep bowl. Then these salads are topped with field greens and romaine and have a house-made creamy dressing.
I ordered Kassler Rippchen ($14.95). The slightly dry smoked pork chops were arranged on a heaping plate of spaetzle and the best sauerkraut I've eaten since my grandmother made it when I was a kid. That sauerkraut didn't condescend -- it was full-flavored and vinegary and a pleasure.
The Companion ordered Swabian Goulash served with spaetzle and salad ($13.95). Those pork chunks in their light gravy sported a sweet/sour flavor.
Need you ask -- Sauerbraten is available, too, and served with the spaetzle and red cabbage ($18.95). Zweibelrostbraten is $20.95. The New York strip is topped with crisp onions and that special salad. The menu also lists several grilled wursts and spaetzles (tenderized pork).
Anyway, schnitzels are available in Wiener, Jager, Paprika and Rahm (cream) style. They are either $15.95 or $16.95 and come with a starch and salad.
Somehow we managed to cram in dessert. Black Forest Cake ($5.40) with its chocolate and kirsch-marinated cherries has never been a favorite of mine, though it was certainly good, but the Linzer Torte ($4) was a delight with its spicy raspberries.
Do you have a question about the area restaurant scene? Then ask Janice! Her answers will appear in the Taste section of The Buffalo News on Wednesdays.
BLACK FOREST ADLER
3 1/2 stars* (out of 4)
WHERE: 2447 Niagara Falls Blvd., Amherst (564-2447). There aren't too many German restaurants in the northern suburbs, and this new casual place is a welcome addition. Beer and wine only. Credit Cards: American Express, MasterCard, Visa.
FAVORITE DISH: Special Salad
NEEDS WORK: Food is of good quality.
PRICE RANGE: Dinner entrees with sides from about $12.
SERVICE: Friendly and excellent.
HOURS: Dinner, 4 to 9 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday
WHEELCHAIR ACCESS: Yes
PARKING: In the lot.
RATINGS: * indicates that restaurant is so new that this is a provisional rating.