It's October, which means Oktoberfest, which means we all have a semi-legit excuse for drinking copious amounts of beer and dancing the polka (sorry, there are no excuses for wearing dirndls or lederhosen). So it seems like a good time to re-visit two of the Valley's longest running German restaurants to see how they stack up on Wienerschnitzel.
See also: Local Restaurants Featured on Food Network's Mystery Diners Tonight All schnitzels are cutlets of meat (whether beef, pork, chicken or veal) which are pounded, breaded and fried, but Wienerschnitzel is schnitzel prepared in the manner of "Wien" (the German word for Vienna, pronounced "veen"), which means that by law (in Vienna, anyway), the cutlet must be made with veal. It's traditionally served with fresh lemon.
Let's see which Wienerschnitzel -- the one at Haus Murphy's or the one at Bavarian Point -- wins the day.
In this corner: Haus Murphy's The setup: Don't let the Irish half of the restaurant's name fool you. This kitschy, old school place -- opened by Brett and Rose Hoffmann in 1996 -- is totally Teutonic, right down to the kitschy German decor and the selection of German beers. Guy Fieri of Diners, Drive-ins and Dives stopped by to try the Sauerbraten and the restaurant was also featured this past summer on Mystery Diners, so it's certainly had its 15 minutes of fame.
The Good: Ummm, the lemon wedge? And the side of wirsing (creamed cabbage with Emmenthaler cheese). Other than that, really nothing.
The Bad: The meat had been so uniformly pounded, it looked as if a machine had done it, giving the cutlet an unappealing, pre-fab appearance. And although the schnitzel's exterior was the requisite golden brown, it certainly wasn't crunchy. If anything, this bland and utterly boring slab of meat fell somewhere between Shake N Bake and something you'd find in the frozen food section of the grocery store.
In the other corner: Bavarian Point
The setup: Talk about old school! This cozy German restaurant -- paneled in pine and decorated with hanging fabric lamp shades that look like somebody's German grandma made them -- opened in 1984, a lifetime ago for a German restaurant in Phoenix. The place has won various and sundry awards from various and sundry publications (including New Times). In fact, I remember eating here when I was a freshly minted restaurant critic for this very publication in 1985. At the time, I thought the Wienerschnitzel was first-rate, which is why I schlepped 30+ miles to see what I'd think 27 years later.
The Good: I don't necessarily value large portions, but it's worth noting that this Wienerschnitzel is large, like you-can't-finish-this-and-not-need-a-nap large. In fact, it almost looks as if two cutlets have been fused together with flour, egg wash and bread crumbs. Fine by me. It's what is should be -- pounded thin, golden brown, nicely crunchy. I also loved accompanying fried potatoes (called "German fries" on the menu), thinly sliced and boosted with red onion, parsley and caraway seed.
The Bad: I would've preferred lemon wedges over thick (and not particularly fresh) lemon slices, which I wrung out for every drop of juice until my hands were pulpy. But in the scheme of things, this is minor.
The price: $14.25 at lunch, $18.95 at dinner
The Verdict: Jawohl! Bavarian Point's Wienerschnitzel schmeckt gut, easily beating out Haus Murphy's weenie version of Wienerschnitzel.
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