Amazing Made-from-Scratch German Dishes are found in the Quaint Texas German Town of Boerne at Little Gretel
For a taste of all things local and scrumptious, stop by Little Gretel!
I have always loved Boerne with its rolling hill country views and laid back Texas vibe. Just minutes North of San Antonio off I-10 and situated along the meandering Cibolo Creek, this cozy town has even more reason for me to love it. I’m talking about the “German” restaurant called Little Gretel which I had the pleasure of reviewing last week. I say German in quotes because I soon found out it offers more than traditional German food. The Chef, Denise Mazal, is actually Czech, so her dishes offer patrons authentic Czech dishes, traditional German dishes as well as influences of Austrian & Hungarian cuisines.
According to Denise, there are many castles in Czechoslovakia and Czech chefs were trained to cook for royalty. They had access to lavish and fresh ingredients and learned to use them to please their cultured guests. Czech chefs were highly sought after for their cooking talents. The dishes we know today as German food had their origins in Czechoslovakia. Hungarian Goulash, one of the dishes Chef Mazal prepared for me is just one such dish that is really a Czech specialty. However it got its name from the Hungarian paprika, the best paprika in the world. Chef’s version uses beef tips, a higher cut of meat than is usually used in preparing the dish. The beef is accompanied by a hearty broth, root vegetables and Czech bread dumplings meant to soak up the rich sauce. This dumpling was totally new to me as I am used to spatzle or potato dumplings. She said that she can make all types of dumplings, but this bread version is best for dishes with sauce. I did like the way the dumplings soaked up all that delicious broth.
Chef said that in Czechoslovakia, they have always recycled everything, even in the food industry. They let nothing go to waste. So she makes her own stocks from vegetables and bones. According to her, first comes the stock, then you make everything else. She makes her stock every three days and there is always a stock pot simmering in her kitchen, as each pot cook for up to 72 hours. She also makes all her breads and pastries from scratch as well as grinding her own meats for the meatloaf and burgers. Another way she recycles is using spent grain which is leftover waste product from beer brewing. Flour made from this grain is higher in fiber and protein, with significantly fewer carbohydrates than traditional flours. She makes her bread, as well as breading for her Schnitzels, from this flour. She even dries and mills the grain herself.
Kulayda was the soup of the day while I was there. It is a Czech white soup with potatoes and mushroom in a creamy both which is deliciously fragrant of fresh dill. I can see why Chef makes her own stock as the flavor was out of this world.
Of course, it wouldn’t be proper to go to a German restaurant without eating a Schnitzel and Little Gretel is said to have the “Best Schnitzel in Texas”. After all, the Czech’s perfected the schnitzel! The Rahm Schnitzel was perfectly breaded and cooked in a special German oven, not fried, for a healthier version of the dish. The veal was thin and tender with a crisp outside as it should be. Served with a rich white wine reduced cream sauce and topped with capers, it was delightful. There was also an accompaniment of homemade spatzle and a sweet/sour braised red cabbage slaw. Eating a bite of schnitzel with the capers, sauce and cabbage was (savory, sweet, sour & salty all at once). Heaven!
The creme de la creme was a dessert trio which included some of Chef Mazal’s homemade apple strudel, a walnut cookie (walnut rum butter cream center in a soft walnut shaped cocoa shell with whipped cream), and Medovnik, a Russian honey cake, rich in butter, cream and honey. I also tasted a hint of coffee with this one. All the desserts were made in house and more than enough to sooth a sweet tooth.
Little Gretel also serves an assortment of certified Angus burgers & sandwiches, appetizers and salads. And this review wouldn’t be finished if I didn’t mention the in-house made Kolaches, both savory Wurst (with, of course wurst and Jalapeno Klobasa) and Czech Kolaches filled with farmer’s cheese & fruit, poppyseed or plum jelly. Denise makes the dough and Kolaches herself, but then you guessed that, right!!
German and Czech Beer and Wine are also available.
But don’t just take my word for how good the food is, come taste for yourself! Little Gretel will be participating in Culinaria’s Winter Restaurant Weeks January 20 – February 1, 2020.
**Full Disclosure: I received lunch in exchange for my review, but not to worry, all opinions are 100% mine.
Location: 518 River Road Boerne, TX 78006
7:30 a.m.to 11:00 a.m Weekdays & Saturdays
9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Sundays
11:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Weekdays
11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Saturdays
5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Wed thru Saturday