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Old Heidelberg: A Taste Of Germany, Down The Road



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The tangy scent of sauerkraut and roasting meats fill the air when the door to Old Heidelberg Restaurant on Route 6 swings open. It sets the scene for Old World ambiance and an authentic welcome from the staff.A Sampling From the Menu:Appetizers: Five meal starters include Kasespaetzle - noodles fresh from the kitchen, smothered in cheese, and topped with caramelized onions.Soup: The soup of the day, "Tagessuppe," ranges from hearty stews to lighter broths.Entrees: A dozen or so traditional German entrees such as Bayerische Schweinhaxe, an Old Heidelberg signature dish. Pork shank is served with sauerkraut and mashed potatoes. Weekend specials are gladly described by the waitstaff. Many entrees come with spaetzle (noodles) and red cabbage.Schnitzel: Jagerschnitzel, boneless pork with a mushroom gravy brown sauce, is one of the several schnitzel variations available at Old Heidelberg.Desserts: Desserts are made on premises. Regulars love the almond and honey topped cream-filled cake known as bienenstich.Kids Menu: A tasty change from the usual children's fare includes buttered noodles, wurst, and schnitzels - kid-sized portions, of course.Wine and Beer: More than 50 German beers, ranging from light to dark. A rotating menu of five special draught beers is presented each month. Wines include many Rieslings by the glass or bottle. Pairings of food and wine on the weekends.Old Heidelberg Restaurant, on Route 6, Bethel, between Hollandia Garden Center and Target, is open for lunch Tuesday through Friday, from noon to 2:30 pm, and dinner Tuesday through Friday, 5 to 9 pm. Saturdays hours are noon to 9 pm, Sundays from noon to 8 pm. Closed Monday. Major credit cards accepted. Reservations for lunchtime only, by calling 203-797-1860. For more information, visit www.oldheidelbergct.com or the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/oldheidelbergct.

The main dining room is to the left of the entry, where tables set kitty-corner to each other are topped with linen squares of gentle hues. A small fireplace hugs the paneled wall in one corner, and the mantel holds a collection of beer steins. To the right is the Riesling Room, most of which is occupied by a large table for parties of 10 to 12 diners. Wooden beams crisscross low ceilings, and sunlight streaming through the European-style multipaned windows brightens the rooms during daylight hours.

The comforting atmosphere has been attracting diners for many years, most recently under the management of Alex Tucker, since 2011.

Old Heidelberg is known for its German cuisine, and the Zagat-rated menu is filled with classic and creative entrees, slaws, salads, soups, and desserts that beg to be sampled. Sausage lovers will find several "wurst" options on the menu, and weekly dinner specials introduce diners to new recipes. The popular Tuesday night buffet is served from 5 to 9. Sample from the entire menu for $29.95, a great way to try German cuisine.

The restaurant is pleased to offer onsite catering for all occasions. Up to 30 guests can be accommodated indoors, or up to 80 guests outdoors, under the tents. Menus are tailored to meet individual needs. Offsite catering is "pick-up" only. Contact oldheidelbergct@gmail.com for information.

Traditional "Bier Garten" festivals are celebrated outdoors from May to October (with special monthly events year around), culminating with Oktoberfest for four weekends, September into October. Rows of picnic tables that invite camaraderie fill the area behind the restaurant, with oversized umbrellas offering shade from the midday sun. Live music turns every weekend into a festival of fun. Toast friends and family with frothing mugs of German beer, washing down sizzling hot sausages or diving into a plate of schnitzel.

Don't be scared off by menu items printed in German - an English explanation is provided alongside. Lunch and dinner menus are similar, with portions and prices adjusted for lunch. A three-course lunch special is offered Tuesday through Friday, from noon to 2:30 pm. Soup or salad, and homemade apple strudel is included with an entree.

Mr Tucker believes customers will find a family-friendly and comforting atmosphere at Old Heidelberg. "It's a great place for parents to come with friends, enjoy good food, and let the kids play outside," said Mr Tucker. A bounce house is situated in the back field on summer weekends.

"I hope," he said, "to see new clientele discover what our longtime customers already love about Old Heidelberg."

Salads: Among the salads offered is the Kartoffel Salat, classic German potato salad with seared Black Forest ham, and the Krautsalat, with Bavarian beer vinegar dressing.

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