Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Why It's Truly Wunderbar!

      For years, Neil and I wondered why there wasn’t a good, relaxed German restaurant in a region that was settled by German immigrants.  Lenhardt’s always seemed pricey and The Iron Skillet was both mediocre and pricey, while Mecklenburg Gardens only offered one or two dishes that could be considered German.  Schmidt’s in Columbus (and at Oktoberfest in Cincinnati) has done a roaring business for two generations, but there wasn’t anything comparable here, though we haven’t eaten at Wertheim’s in the Mainstrasse district of Covington.

Dexter Finds Frankfurt on the Map
      Whenever I’ve brought up the fact of the paucity of attention on German food, people always say it’s heavy or they don’t like it, etc, etc., yet they think nothing of grilling
hamburgers or hot dogs with the kids.  Where do they think the Hamburg-er and the Frankfurt-er originated?  And really, German and Austrian cuisine is no heavier than the pastas and pizzas of Italy or the butter and cream sauces of France.

The Sign Says It All
      Then Wunderbar! popped up.  Neil thought that since it’s close to the Basilica in Covington – it’s only about three blocks away over the viaduct – it would be a place to visit on the way to a World Choir Games concert.  It’s on the corner of Lee and 12th Streets near the 12th Street exit from I-75 and requires some patience and maneuvering around a couple of the higgledy-piggledy streets in that area.  When you see the corner building with the German flags outside, you’re there.
The Bar and Handwritten Menu
The VW Bus and Picnic Tables
      It’s a small, dark, and very relaxed space with picnic benches that match the half -timbered interior in color and wood grain.  The bartender/host, is friendly, patient, and very supportive of customers and the neighborhood.  It was obvious from some things that were said and done outside of this review that Wunderbar! is committed to success and for this somewhat somnolent pocket of Covington to wake up and get happy.  

Pork Loin Sandwich with Braised Cabbage
Apple and Honey Sausages with Potato Salad and Homemade Roll
      The menu is limited and changes frequently, but it’s German and it’s all made on the premises.  That may sound incongruous until you taste it and then you’ll be thinking, when can I get back here?  Neil ordered the apple-honey sausage with a side of potato salad and a roll.  The bread was yeasty and fresh, the sausage meaty, without a trace of fat or gristle, and really redolent with the flavors of apple and honey.  The potato salad was a trifle bland (I ordered it as well), but it was a good portion with a slight zest due to the fresh cilantro.  Lisa, Paul, and I ordered the Pork Loin Sandwich.  I’ve missed the pork sandwich that used to be served at The National Exemplar, but this supersedes that memory.  The house made light rye bread was thin yet dense in texture, the pork tender and lean with slices of cooked apple and onions, and melted cheese.  The homemade mustard sauce choices are a perfect accompaniment with this dish as well as the braised red cabbage.  It’s both sweet and sour, light on the vinegar so it avoids that acid edge, and al dente so the texture of the vegetable isn’t lost.  Paul had the kale chips on a later visit and thought they were excellent.  

      There’s a full bar with an excellent selection of beers, brewed iced tea, an unpretentious clientele, and plenty of on street parking.  We hope Wunderbar! has a long life!

Wunderbar! on Urbanspoon

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