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The Duke of Germany serves up ethnic fare

By Staff | May 8, 2015

For Germans and German-food lovers, the authentic Thuringia-style cuisine at Cape Coral’s Duke of Germany restaurant at 3816 Chiquita Blvd. is a must-try.

Susen and Raik Machleidt are from Thuringia in central Germany. Often called “the green heart of Germany,” Thuringia is densely forested and famous for producing a disproportionate number of Winter Olympic gold-medal winners, along with its gold-medal Thringer Rostbratwurst. If you need convincing about the bratwurst, Thuringia is the home of the “First German Bratwurst Museum.”

So the “World Famous Thuringia Bratwurst” on the Duke of Germany dinner menu really is. In fact, the Duke of Germany menu is like a vocabulary lesson in German cuisine, and sampling the menu is the next best thing to a taste tour of Germany.

The adventure begins with the appetizers. Sure, you can order fried onion rings, but you can also let your taste buds take you to the land of “bier” and Beethoven with the “Original Bavaria Pretzel” served with real butter, or the “Homemade Cheesespaetzle.” Spaetzle, charmingly translated as “little sparrows,” are little egg noodles or dumplings and cheesespaetzle is pan-fried spaetzle with onion, bacon and Swiss cheese.

Schnitzel (translated “scrap” or “shred”) is breaded and pan-fried pork loin, and owner/chef Susen has a lot of fun with it, offering this traditional dish to her guests in no fewer than nine variations, from Parmesan and Pizza, to Hawaiian and Cordon Bleu.

Chef Susen’s menu favorites are her sauerbraten and roulade.

“Sauerbraten” means “sour (sauer) roast (braten).” The dish is essentially a pot roast, generally a roast of beef that has been marinated for days in vinegar or wine, water, herbs, spices and seasonings. The result of this long marination is the signature, melt-in-your-mouth, best-known and best-loved dish of Germany, Thuringia style. Susen’s sauerbraten is served, as is the tradition, with your choice of red cabbage and spaetzle, or with Thuringia-style potato dumplings, or with potato pancakes. If you are not a taste adventurer, you can have it American-style with mashed potatoes.

“Roulade” derives from the French “rouler,” meaning “to roll.” A roulade is a dish in which a filling is rolled up in meat or pasta or pastry. Susen’s roulade, onion and pickle rolled up in a thin strip of beef rubbed with mustard, is quintessentially German.

“Your food is like the food my mother cooked,” is often heard in Duke of Germany, which, for the five years since it opened, has been a balm to the soul of homesick Germans.

Four varieties of wurst (“sausage”) on the Duke’s menu are more than sufficient to satisfy the hunger of sausage-lovers: the Knockwurst (or Knackwurst from “Knacken,” meaning “to crack”) is served with sauerkraut (sour or pickled cabbage) and potatoes; Bavaria Weisswurst (“white sausage” traditionally made of minced veal and pork back) comes with sauerkraut, Bavaria pretzel, potato salad and sweet mustard; Currywurst, pan-fried, Thuringia-style sausage topped with homemade, spicy curry sauce is served, American-style, with Cole slaw and French fries; and, of course, the “World Famous Thuringia Bratwurst” is served with sauerkraut and mashed potatoes or potato salad.

The Duke Platters, dominated by currywurst or bratwurst, knockwurst or weisswurst, are for champion sausage eaters.

To people who are not familiar with German cuisine, the advantage of exploring the Duke of Germany menu is that the Olympic proportions of the full servings may be sampled in mini-portions by ordering the sides. For instance, if you want to try the “World Famous Thuringia Bratwurst” without committing to a full dinner, try the side of “Two Homemade Bratwursts Thuringia Style.” All the accompaniments to the lunch and dinner plates may also be ordered separately as sides. Why go to Germany for French-fried potatoes when you can fill your mouth with homemade potato pancakes, potato dumplings or wiener-style schnitzel?

For non-red-meat eaters, Dukes offers the Black Forest Chicken Strips in a creamy red and green peppersauce, and the Vegetarian Combo Platter, a selection of the potato, cabbage and spaetzle sides to the meat dishes. And there are salads and soups, including a goulash and a liver dumpling soup. Kids’ meals are little servings of bratwurst, schnitzel or potato pancakes, so comfortably like the American food they love that you can give your kids a little culinary adventure without resistance.

Resistance of any kind is easily overcome at Duke of Germany. After a hearty, homemade German meal like your mother (if she were German) would serve you, if you don’t leave Duke of Germany speaking with a German accent, you will at least leave with a hearty appreciation and appetite for German food. And with your new German-food vocabulary, you can recommend it to your friends mit Autoritt.

For more information, including daily specials, visit DukeOfGermany.com or call 239-540-2000.