For all those bemoaning (you know who you are) the shuttering of eastern European/Germanic restaurants in this city (Lindenhof, Amber Garden, Dalmacia…), you will find your schnitzel, sausages and sauerkraut on Dalhousie. Plus rouladen, spätzle, and strudel.
And though Das Lokal describes itself as an ‘International restaurant with a German twist,’ there’s no doubt the menu has moved closer to its Germanic roots, particularly with the arrival of new head chef Robert Fuchs. Berlin-born and trained, he replaces opening chef Harriet Clunie, who has moved further east to the Beechwood Gastropub.
If I had to choose a favourite reworking of a shuttered KFC, this would be it. Granted, the building’s had a bit of time to work out the Kentucky Fried kinks (for many years, this address was home to the Portuguese grill house, Casa Do Churrasco). It became Das Lokal in 2013. Still, further modifications to the building have created a rustic sort of charmer, filled in with mod lighting, eclectic curios and feminine touches.
As for the German twists on the menu? They appear in the meatless dishes. Spätzle stands on its own, treated with fried sage and cubes of roasted squash or mounted with butter and cheese; and the house schnitzel is breaded celery root.
The mix-and-match charcuterie board was a good way to start. On ours, pickled herring, cured duck, fresh cheese, pickles and jams. Bratwurst, while not made in house, was a very fine sausage; not salty, nicely grilled, topped with (ho-hum) sauerkraut and served with a tomato jam, mustards, and a warm potato salad smeared with herbs. There was a Bosc pear salad with hunks of blue cheese that was less successful, suffering from tasteless pears and weary-ish arugula and feeling a bit skimpy for $13.
If your idea of German cuisine is a large boulder of roasted meat with a hefty side of spuds, you could head for the short rib. It was very well done. Full marks too to the pork rouladen, the meat tender, rolled around a filling of mustard and pickles, and smothered in a dark, tasty mushroom gravy. It came with a side of herbed spätzle.
And then two dishes that let us down. The cod in the cod chowder was impeccable, the fish holding together until nudged with a fork; the petals falling into a gravy studded with vegetables. We were told it was a light curry sauce. Sadly, it was also gravely light on flavour. And the baby kale salad topper seemed more tossed on rather than placed with any purpose.
A dish of duck, roasted to soft flesh with bronzed, crisped skins, slathered with herbs, onions and spices, came with lovely potatoes. The slices of duck breast though, were served far too rare, impossible to chew.
And that celery root schnitzel? I’d call it interesting. It was helped in the flavour department by the house ketchup, and served, again, with admirable spuds.
Black Forest cake seemed an obvious ending, with its kirsch-soaked cherries, and served with vanilla bean crème fraiche. We liked it better than the fairly dull strudel.
There are live music nights at Das Lokal (lovely piano playing by Adam Saikaley one evening), along with prix fixe nights, half-price wine nights and every night free parking. Much to like there.