When I've craved German cold cuts, soft rye bread or fresh brtchen, it's always been a drive. Living in the northeast part of town, I've either headed west to Wimberger's or taken Powers Boulevard south, just shy of the rainbow's end, to Elke's German Deli.
Perhaps noting the same void as me, the folks behind Elke's recently trotted up Powers and opened Schnitzel Fritz, in what was formerly Cathy's Deli, off Tutt Boulevard. Opting to work with the modern space, the new eatery isn't bogged down with the kitschy, Heidi-esque items typical of most German restaurant decor.
Walking in, I was met with German tunes and shelves of fresh breads and rolls. Having been raised with it, the loud German chatter soothed.
The colors of the German flag (black, red and cornflower yellow) and cheerful yellow booths fill one side of the shop. On the other side, a large glass case holds imported cheeses and meats, as well as cakes by the slice. Unlike Elke's, which is more of a grocery and sandwich take-out, Schnitzel Fritz affords owners Mitch and Anke Verburg the opportunity to expand their Old World repertoire to include a hot, dine-in menu.
Anke says she's long admired independent restaurants, and with the new outfit aims to focus on fresh-made ingredients that people can grab on the fly. But paper plates and plastic silverware aside, don't call what she does "fast food." She says it's just good food fast.
The schnitzels (pork pounded thin, breaded and normally pan-fried, $6.99) are baked in an imported German oven and served natural or with a traditional topping. Among the options: lemon and capers, mushroom gravy, a creamy brown sauce and grilled onions.
After sampling several different versions, I can say Schnitzel Fritz does a pretty good job. However, I found it a little stingy with the sauces. My jaegerschnitzel, while tender and with tasty gravy, had only three tiny pieces of mushroom, leaving me with too much schnitzel by sauce's end. And so it went for the rahmschnitzel the rich, lovely brown sauce with capers just didn't last.
My brat ($5.99) was totally missing the curry sauce I'd ordered with it, but it still burst with a crunchy casing and juicy center.
A side salad potato, tomato, cucumber or green-bean or red cabbage or Bavarian-style sauerkraut (with caraway seeds) accompanies each dish. The German potato salad arrived warm with a great hit of vinegar and semi-smashed potatoes, just like my mom's. And sweet, with a bit of crunch, the fresh red cabbage won me over.
One minor beef with take-out orders: The undressed strips of lettuce, a slice of tomato and a thin pickle seem to exist solely as to-go box garnish (in the third compartment). Since they're not really applicable to the dish, I say leave it out or dress it up.
As for desserts, homemade cheesecake and apple or cherry streusel cake (all $2.99 per slice) topped the list. Subtle, light and creamy, the cakey, not-too-sweet cheesecake satisfied. The apple cake offered up the right amount of sour with a lovely hit of sweet from the crumble. The apples still had bite.
I'll give a yodel for Schnitzel Fritz's quick food though to be frank, I'm most excited that going for liverwurst on rye won't cost me a quarter-tank of gas any longer.