Archive for the category “German Fare”

Ringing in the New Year – Out & About in Milwaukee with Good Friends!

Upon returning from Ohio in time to watch my Clemson Tigers beat Oklahoma in the Russell Athletic Bowl (yes, my priorities are a bit odd!), I found myself preparing for a visit from my dear friend Dana. Dana has been mentioned here (actually, she wrote that post!), here, and here.  She was driving in from Michigan the morning after I arrived back home, and planned to spend a few days in Milwaukee over the New Year’s week.

Dana is a wonderful and curious traveler, so she suggested several local things to try.  Before I get into how Dana and I ate our way through New Year’s week, I’ll share a few pictures of the other things we saw and did.

First, Dana needed her Bloody Mary from AJ Bombers!

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I’ve mentioned AJ’s before…

Then, on to the Pabst Brewing Company…Not a traditional brewing process tour, but rich in history and quite interesting, in my opinion.

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IMG_1127[1]Though the tour doesn’t focus on the process of brewing beer, you still get to enjoy beer during the tour.  Plus, this facility has a wonderful and intimate space in which to host weddings, parties and other celebrations.

Lakefront Brewery… My neighbor, and friend, Andrew also joined us for LFB and dinner later.

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(pro tip: The fried cheese curds are fantastic! The Beer Hall Wheat Ale batter is light and crispy…this is the only way I’ll eat cheese curds, and I’m not generally a big fan of fried foods!)

The Old German Beer Hall… Dana’s pick for dinner on the evening of her arrival.

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After all we had munched on at Lakefront Brewery, we were not as hungry as we thought we might be. Total bummer, because the German menu seemed to have real promise!

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We did polish off the Hofbräuhaus Brotzeitteller, which consisted of classic beer hall style bread, meat & cheese board, a 10oz pretzel, Rye bread & Obatzter with (local) Usinger deli meats, Swiss cheese, beer radish, and pickles. A great appetizer to pick at – a lot of variety, and very good food!

We may have polished off a few beers as well.  My choice… the Hofbräu Delikator – “Dopplebock” – actually, that was our server’s choice, and it was quite tasty!

Now…on to the main culinary events!

New Year’s Eve at Kanpai Izakaya… I made reservations for the five course dinner special.  $59 / person, for fresh sushi, sashimi, and wine/Saki pairing?  Yes, please!

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Courses one and two: Lobster Miso Soup and House Salad.  The addition of lobster meat to the soup…brilliant!

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Hamachi Ponzu appetizer (course three).

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Course 4: The “OMG” roll as it cooks. The roll has shrimp tempura, avocado, eel, shrimp, spicy and wasabi aiolis, and is served flaming under the fire of burning rum.  The resulting taste is of a delicious grilled sushi roll.

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Everyone at the table enjoyed this roll immensely, as do I!

The Chef’s Choice sashimi plate was the final delivery.  Please allow me to say that, OMG, this was amazing!!

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If I had a proper camera, this plate would have looked even better.  However, even with a phone camera, I hope you see just how beautiful all of the seafood looks!  This lovely plates hosts a party of Crab, White Tuna, Yellow Finned Tuna, Salmon, and Talapia (the chefs were advised that Scallops were off-limits for this gal).  I’m not even kidding when I say that the fish melted in my mouth – and, the Yellow Finned Tuna was my favorite, by far!

I’ve always enjoyed the food and service at Kanpai, but I think they managed to (somehow!) step up their game on NYE! And, Mary, thanks for wonderful service – always with a smile!

Kanpai was a great start to our NYE outing!  We then walked over to Cafe Benelux for a drink, and ultimately cabbed back to East Town to enjoy acoustic music (very good acoustic music!) at The County Clare.

The County Clare was busy, but not overly crowded.  Dana, Andrew and I had a great time just chatting, listening to the music, and watching folks (overly) enjoy their evenings.  We also thoroughly enjoyed the complimentary bottle of champagne The County Clare provided just prior to midnight! What a wonderful way to ring in 2015!

It was difficult to get a good photo with the lighting, but you see the "a hundred thousand welcomes" (céad míle fáilte)!

It was difficult to get a good photo with the lighting, but you see the “a hundred thousand welcomes” (céad míle fáilte)!

And…then came the After, After Party at GoodKind.

After having heard about GoodKind from a colleague, and reading about it being one of the top 21 new restaurants in the US, I decided we should make reservations for the After, After Party Brunch on New Year’s Day. We had a lazy morning and then headed over to GoodKind in Bay View with my friend Katie in tow as well.   We walked into an inviting atmosphere, busy with other brunchers!

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This was the inaugural brunch at GoodKind, so nobody, including the staff, knew exactly what to expect!

After reviewing the day’s menu, I knew I couldn’t decide (except to eliminate the Smoked Rotisserie Pork Belly served with a Maple Buttermilk Cake.  I LOVE pork belly, but there is no way anyone will get me to eat anything maple-flavored!)  Everything else was fair game.

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Our server, Caitlin, advised us that most tables had been ordering tapas style and sharing dishes, so we decided to do the same.  We took a few recommendations from Caitlin, and I asked her to choose an additional dish to surprise us.

We started by sharing a bottle of wine.  This Ramon Bilbao Rioja was rich in flavor and definitely improved as it sat.

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We then ordered:

Polenta Madame with hometown ham, goat cheese curds and fried egg.  What an extraordinary and savory delight!!

Polenta Madame

Polenta Madame

The Pork Cheek Donut – it’s just like it sounds…a sugary donut filled with tender pork cheek and served over a chocolate raspberry sauce.  I LOVED the concept here, but I think the sweet overpowered the savory a bit.  I would have loved to have a bit more pork in each bite.  However, if you have a sweet tooth, this dish may be the one for you!

IMG_1144[1]The aforementioned Smoked Rotisserie Pork Belly with Maple Buttermilk Cake was highly recommended by our server, so we did order that dish,  After being assured by my friends that the pork did not have a maple flavor, I gave it a try.  As it should be, the meat was very tender, if a bit high in fat content.

Smoked Rotisserie Pork Belly with Maple Buttermilk Cake

Smoked Rotisserie Pork Belly with Maple Buttermilk Cake

And, Caitlin’s choice for us was the Dungeoness Crab Bread Pudding with frisee, tarragon and lemon vinaigrette.  I thoroughly enjoyed this dish too!  The crab meat was not overpowering, but what a rich flavor!  I loved having a serving of savory bread pudding for brunch!  And, the frisee with lemon vinaigrette…so light and fresh!

Dungeoness Crab Bread Pudding

Dungeoness Crab Bread Pudding

As if my friends and I hadn’t tasted enough goodness at GoodKind, Dana made the executive decision to order each of the two desserts that were being offered that day!  I don’t recall what GoodKind named these desserts, but one was Door County cherry tart with whipped cream and anise sprinkles, and the other was chocolate cake, topped with chocolate mousse and brittle bites.

Door County cherry tart

Door County cherry tart

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Chocolate mousse cake

We enjoyed both desserts, although the chocolate cake was deemed a bit too rich for my rookie friends!  (I, on the other hand, thought it was super tasty!).

I think the menu at GoodKind, being so unique, may seem a bit intimidating to some people.  I encourage anyone who has the opportunity to take the leap of faith and to dine at GoodKind, knowing you’ll have great flavors served up!

GoodKind will begin regular Sunday brunches this month, and I hope locals and visitors give it a try!  If you’re into sushi, sashimi and the like, I really suggest Kanpai in the Third Ward.  Neither my guests nor I have ever been disappointed there.  And, for  local fare that is not fancy, but is just good, AJ Bombers, the Old German Beer Hall, and Lakefront Brewery are great local options.

I hope you enjoyed our tour of Milwaukee over the past few days!

Happy new year!

Cheers!

Ker

Breakfast for dinner at lunchtime at Siebelt’s, Bocholt, Germany

On Sunday afternoon, three colleagues and I left Milwaukee and flew out to Düsseldorf, Germany to attend manufacturing trials with a European customer.  We arrived into Germany on Monday morning at ~7:30AM (local) and drove almost 90 km directly north to the facility in which we’d be working all day in the charming city of Bocholt.

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Side note: I was quite excited to drive a rented Volkswagen with manual transmission, and on the Autobahn!  My first several cars were manual transmission, but recently, I’ve been “stuck” with SUVs with automatic transmission (vehicles which I really love(d), but I do miss the manual transmission). It was fun to be engaged with the vehicle and to drive along the highway at rather fast speeds (at times)!

We were at the facility until approximately 4PM and then headed over to our hotel, the Hotel Residenz Bocholt, for a quick nap and then dinner.  All four of us Americans were in dire need of a bit of rest prior to having dinner with our European colleagues, vendor representatives and our customer contacts.  We were also in need of showers after having been on the road/working for 24 hours or so.  🙂

Feeling refreshed, we met as a group of 14 on the garden patio for pre-dinner drinks.  I was glad that I chose to start with water (although I was teased a bit for not having had a beer).  Our patio time lasted well beyond the time at which we were supposed to have dinner at Siebelt’s inside.  The four hungry Americans were the first folks to leave the patio and head to the dinner table (subtle hint to our European friends).

The American contingent...

The American contingent…

The hotel is a charming space, filled with fresh flowers and pleasant staff members.  Part of the charm was demonstrated as the gentleman who checked us into the hotel also served as our bartender as well as our maître d’ / head server and photographer.

After we sat down, we were presented with a limited / fixed menu:

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After reviewing the options, I decided that all of the dishes looked quite nice.  I advised Ralph, aforementioned “Mr. Everything”, that I was quite hungry, but that I would like him to choose his favorite dish for me. After double-checking that I wanted him to choose and surprise me, Ralph broke into a big smile and said he would be happy to do so.

We were first served a “small taste” plate which consisted of melon and prosciutto.

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And, of course, we ordered German (and French) wine.  Nicolas, whom I have mentioned once or twice before, always takes the lead when it comes to ordering wine.  He’s never done us wrong!

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The first dish Ralph had ordered for me was the Tomaten Consommée mit Basiliken-Ricotta-Nocken (tomato broth with basil and ricotta gnocchi).  I’ve never had a broth-based tomato soup, so I wasn’t sure I’d like it, but it had excellent flavor, and the few gnocchi added to the broth gave it just enough substance for an appetizer.

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For my entrée, Ralph chose the Westfälisches Krüstchen mit Schmorzwiebeln und Bratkartoffein (pork cutlet with braised onion and fried potatoes).  He made sure to mention to me that he chose this dish because it is a very traditional regional dish and he wanted me to experience that (love that!).

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There is pork under those eggs!

The pork itself didn’t have much flavor – a traditional pan-fried crust, but with fried egg, braised onions, and a few dashes of black pepper, I found pork to be really nice.  And, the potatoes…those potatoes were excellent!  Very full of flavor and nice and crispy.  I was laughing with my colleague about the fact that we were essentially having breakfast for dinner, during lunchtime (in the US).

It was a lot of food, so I declined to order dessert when asked.  I had, however, forgotten that I had turned my meal decisions over to Ralph!  When everyone else at the table was served their desserts, I was served the Siebelt’s Dessertvariation (a medley of desserts).

Strawberry rhubarb tart, rum pudding, raspberry sorbet, strawberry cup, fresh fruit, and Tiramisu (clockwise from top)

Strawberry rhubarb tart, rum pudding, raspberry sorbet, strawberry cup, fresh fruit, and Tiramisu (clockwise from top)

Wow!  Every bite was so good.  I simply couldn’t take more than a bite or two of each.  My belly was full!

The entire evening was enjoyable.  We were a multicultural group, consisting of folks from Germany, the Netherlands, France, and the US, and we had a great time interacting (“talking shop”, talking World Cup, talking food and wine, and talking about this blog!).

I was really pleased with how open Ralph was to taking control of my dining experience, and I think he chose very nicely.  I felt as though I had experienced the food of the region and had nice variety of flavors and textures.

If you’ve dined in this region of Germany, or in Germany in general, I’d love to hear about your experiences!

Stay tuned for a post about my next adventure in France…

Cheers!

Ker

Germany May Have Defeated France in the World Cup, but…

Germany will only get me for a day and a half this coming week. France, on the other hand, has me for three and a half days.  France wins! (I think)

I’ll be flying out to Düsseldorf on Sunday, for a weeklong business trip in Europe.  One of the many perks of working for a French-based company is the “required travel to Europe”.  On Tuesday, I’ll fly from Düsseldorf to Paris and will be spending most of my time in Compiegne.

You may recall my visit to Brussels last fall, and then a short train ride over to Paris from there.  I had a couple of excellent meals during those trips, and I’m hopeful for more delicious dining adventures this time around.  My colleagues are aware of my approach to dining out (well, most of them are), so rather than being an awkward experience, it’s fun to grab meals with these guys.

I’ll be sure to post about my European adventures, so please keep an eye out!  And, if you have recommendations for any must-visit restaurants, please leave a comment!

Cheers!

Ker

Singapore! Day 2 – China Town, Little India and Robertson Quay

As impressed as I was with myself, (and Steve was too), for staying up last night until 11:30 or so, I was as much surprised that I awoke at 6AM this morning and stayed up pretty much all night again.
“Pretty much”.  I did take another cat nap on Steve’s couch before we set out for a late dinner. But, more about that later…
After leisurely enjoying fresh fruit on the patio for breakfast, I wrote the last blog post, caught some rays by the pool, got up to date on email, and watched a few “Friday Night Lights” episodes (highly recommended by friends) – all while Steve went into work for a few hours. My mind told me that I should have gone back to bed, but my body just wasn’t tired enough to do so.
When he got home, we set out (on foot) toward Dhoby Ghaut (a short walk), through the beautiful artists’ park, Istana Park.
We hopped the MRT over to China Town.  Please let it be known that Steve enjoys testing me, and I am becoming well-versed about the train routes already, as I’m confident Steve will confirm, and I’m equally confident that my friend Dennis will, rightfully, question – DT, I’m getting MUCH better these days! We then hit the town, so to speak.
I have been to China Town in Manhattan many times, and I was anticipating something similar.  While the concept is the same, Singapore’s China Town was much more grand in scale, in my opinion. Beautiful architecture, not only in the temples, but in the buildings in general. Still very “touristy”, but with a bit more Chinese influence in the surrounding areas…IMO.
We walked the streets and checked out the shops; I bought my friend the obligatory “cheesy [insert city] magnets I always buy him, as well as a couple of other carefully chosen trinkets for friends and family.

For JB, with love (and a nanny, nanny, poo, poo) always,
Ker

And, go figure, in China Town, Steve and I stopped for Bratwurst sandwiches for lunch.  This stand is legendary in Singapore.
The Austrian gentleman, Erich, who owns the place, seen in the center of the picture, has quite the loyal customer base, and is always busy. It was he, himself, who cooked and served us our food. He is a rightfully proud man!
I regret to admit that we dug into our sandwiches so quickly that I forgot to take a photo. The brat was fantastic, though there was too much bun, IMO. Between the bun and the mustard, I felt the brat flavor was a bit lost.  Still, I’d go back there anytime I visit Singapore’s China Town!
Then…the rain set in.  Luckily, Steve and I were near the “yellow chairs”.  I don’t even know what restaurant that officially is, but it has yellow chairs outside, thus, the name. We sat down in said yellow chairs and ordered Tiger beers (my call – it was, after all, 4PM on a weekday. Let’s be scandalous!). Two (large) beers
turned into four,
turned into five beers

Note: these were five split between the two of us…not something I could accomplish alone!

as the rain continued coming down.  We had a great time people watching and chatting with each other whilst drinking our afternoon “dessert”. If I do say so myself, it was a good call on my part!
We then set out toward Little India to stop by Mustafa’s – the local equivalent of a Walmart meets a Marshall’s meets a TJMaxx, etc.  Thirty-eight doors and four floors of ANYTHING you need/want/didn’t know you needed/wanted.
In other words, my personal hell.  Steve knows I hate to shop, but he’s a deal freak, so he “had” to show me this gem of Singapore (mostly so he could do his  own shopping).
This is two days straight he has used the “it’s a must-see” excuse to make me shop with him.  Note to Steve: my shopping fuse is short right now! 🙂
We had planned to go out to eat after coming home from Little India, but that plan got delayed as I played on my computer and Steve fiddled with the new toy he bought in China Town. And, then as he got sucked into a movie and I got sucked into a nap. Fast-forward to 8:45PM, and we’re ready to go.
We decided on Bella Pizza in Robertson Quay. I still wasn’t very hungry, but the menu was expansive and everything looked delicious.  Steve advised me not to do the “She Ordered What?!?” method, but rather to trust my gut. Although, everything is good, according to Steve, it’s best to choose what you really want.
Given that guidance, I chose the Antipasto Bella Pizza, which is the “chef’s selection of cheeses with salami, Parma ham and fresh arugula”.
Oh. My. Goodness…the selection was decadent!  Although…I will say that the arugula was a bit overpowering in comparison to the rest of the salad.  I couldn’t eat too much of it.  Nor could Steve.
Steve chose the Calzone Napoletana, which is described as “a folded pizza with mozzarella, ricotta, salami, and Parmesan”. Can you tell that we’re cheese lovers?? (and, btw, this calzone was enormous!)
His too, was delicious.  I stole a few bites (which he had gladly offered up), and I can only say that I’d have liked some crushed red pepper to add spice to the meal. Apparently, that’s not common in Singapore, so I didn’t press the issue.
Despite the earlier rain, we lucked out again with gorgeous weather and had a fun day of hanging out in Singapore’s “ethnic districts”.  I wish I would have had some of the regional food, but Steve has promised me that we’ll indulge later in my trip.  (I think he’s trying to ease me into the local fair – a kind gesture!)
Day two score: Steve = alive, Ker = alive
Therefore, success!! 🙂
Just teasing…Steve and I have a ball together, but we’re two hard-headed, smart-mouthed, highly intelligent, quick-witted people.  That’s a recipe for disaster! So far, we’ve averted disaster. I hope we continue to do so!
Cheers!

Ker

Ich Liebe Der Braumeister (Cleveland, OH)

As a little bit of background, my uncle Jim (mom’s brother) is ex-Air Force (God bless our military!), and was stationed in Germany for five years in the eighties.  I was fortunate enough to go over and visit him with my grandmother when I was a child, and I know that he really enjoyed a lot of things about Germany – especially the food!  Jim is tall and lean, but he sure can pack away some food!

So, earlier this week, when his sixtieth birthday came about, Jim came to Ohio to visit, and my parents made reservations at a local German restaurant to honor Jim as he entered into his sixth decade.  My parents, my brother, my mom’s/Jim’s cousin and her husband, and I were to feast on German fare on the west side of Cleveland.

As many of you have read in my tweets, my mom broke her leg earlier this week, so she wasn’t able to join us.  But, she insisted that we go out and celebrate properly with Jim. So…we did!

We arrived at Der Braumeister, a bar that is named top twenty in the nation by Men’s Health magazine, at 7PM on Friday night.

Der Braumeister – at the corner of Lorain Ave and 131st St.

It’s the best looking building in the neighborhood – which doesn’t actually say much, but it IS a charming place!

We met our cousins at the bar, and were promptly seated at a large table in the next room.  We perused the beer list and the menu, and I instantly knew that I would have our server choose for me.  Our server was Kelsey, and she was a firecracker, but more about her later!

(don’t worry…we all ADORED her!!)

From front left, clockwise: Adam (brother), Jim (uncle), Terry (dad), Mike (cousin), Sandy (cousin) – and, me behind the camera…my preferred position!

Shortly thereafter, I handed Kelsey a “She Ordered What?!?” card and asked her to surprise me.  She seemed a bit confused, but then went with it – until she didn’t!  😉

She came back a few minutes later and told me what she planned to serve me, and wanted to make sure it was okay.  After I joked with her that she had ruined the surprise, she quickly stepped up and said she would change the order and surprise me.

In the meantime, we shared appetizers…crab-stuffed mushroom caps and sauerkraut balls – both really delicious!  Along with amazingly light and fresh bread.

Appetizers (after I had already started digging in!)

Sauerkraut balls and crab-stuffed mushroom cap appetizers

Then, came soups and salads.  Now, the salads created quite the comedic theme throughout the night.  I’m hoping this isn’t a “you had to be there” anecdote, but it may be.  Uncle Jim (birthday “boy”) was asked what kind of dressing he’d like on his salad.

His response: honey mustard.

Kelsey’s response (without skipping a beat): we have poppy-seed.

WTH??  She said it as though poppy-seed were a close alternative to honey mustard – not so much, Kelsey!  She realized it later, and admitted to having felt pretty stupid about it. This was a joke that continued throughout the course of our evening. Mind you, Kelsey is very animated and has a killer sense of humor – I wished I had caught her on video throughout the night!

While my family ate their salads, I was served a cup of German potato soup.  It looked like apple sauce; it had that texture (small bites of potato, rather than large chunks), but it tasted like the bacon-y potato soup that it was.  It was quite tasty.

German Potato Soup

Then, for dinner, Kelsey had promised me she was ordering her personal favorite dish.  We all tried something different at the table, and unanimously agreed that the dinners were fantastic and very authentic. I was able to get through almost half of my plateful of Hungarian Style Goulash (tender pieces of beef simmered with green pepper and tomato in a thick gravy and served over spaetzle).  The meat fell apart on the fork – it was that tender!  The vegetables gave a great flavor and texture to the gravy, and the spaetzle were perfectly crispy and tender at the same time. I was more than happy to have the leftovers packaged up to go.

Hungarian Style Goulash

Initially, I wasn’t going to have dessert (because I was comfortably full), but Kelsey sold us on a few items.  My cousin’s husband had the Bavarian creme torte, she had the apple Strudel, my uncle tried the cherry Strudel, and I had Kelsey choose. She had earlier mentioned that the apple Strudel was her favorite, so we were all expecting her to bring me that. However, Kelsey pulled a fast one on me!  She brought me the MOST. DELICIOUS. GERMAN. CHOCOLATE. TORTE. EVER MADE!!!!!

The German Chocolate Torte

To me, the torte was very reminiscent of Tiramisu – a fave of mine (even though I typically loathe anything related to coffee!).  It had a mousse-like filling, and the cake part of it was very moist and light (like the delicious, but ick – espresso, did I mention I hate espresso – soaked lady-fingers in Tiramisu).  I had everyone take a bite (dad dutifully had 3 – one for him, one for Adam (gluten-intolerant, poor bro!), and one for mom (aforementioned hospital patient)), and then I finished the rest of the slice off.  It was THAT GOOD!  I also told my dad that we need to have Katie (from this post) learn how to make this – and ration it out to me so I can enjoy the cake, but ensure that I don’t gain 400 hundred pounds!

It was such a great evening, and my uncle thoroughly enjoyed his meal <– That was the most important part for all of us!

As we were wrapping up, my dad asked if I had explained my blog concept to Kelsey.  Aside from the “She Ordered What?!?” card, I had not.  So, he started to tell her about it, and this was her reaction:

As I mentioned earlier, our entire family ADORED Kelsey.  She rolled with the punches, and also punched right back!  An absolute delight of a server at Der Braumeister.  If you’re in Cleveland, and looking for a beer, a small front patio, fun (and good) service, and/or GREAT German food, please swing by.  We all really enjoyed our first experience there very much.  Sehr Gut!

Auf wiedersehen,

Ker

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