By Zachary Wright
Beer is a familiar taste to those who belong to the German culture and for the Berghoff family, offering a taste of German culture is how they’ve made their living for over a century. The Berghoffs can trace their roots back to Herman Berghoff, an immigrant from Dortmund, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany.
During the 1893 World Fair, the German immigrant saw an opportunity. He opened a beer stand right next to the Midway, a popular saloon. Just five years later in 1893, Herman opened the Berghoff Café over on the corner of State and Adams.
A century later, the Berghoff still impresses with their traditional German menu – along with an elevated, new world twist. At least with the Berghoff, they stick with German classics but give them a refined taste. Their old world entrees are elevated to meet fine dining requirements.
It’s an entertaining and welcome twists on food that may be seen as rustic. So often, German restaurants in the U.S. can be predictable. In this case, the Berghoff goes off the beaten path of oily meats, fried potatoes and jarred sauerkraut.
Instead, the ingredients used are more grand and creates for sublime flavors. If they use traditional ingredients like root vegetables, they’re prepared in a way that still elevates the dish. There is a certain finesse about the preparation.
The new world entrees are influenced by international flavors. One dish exemplifies this by including wasabi, chickpea, risotto and tomato beurre blanc. The new world entrees tend to cater to more high end, American tastes. A lot of the ingredients include some sort of seafood, such as scallops or Dungeness crab.
Furthermore, the new world entrees tend to be a little more expensive. The lowest price is the rigatoni pasta, which is just under $16 dollars. If you have money to spend, then patrons could order a ribeye steak for $31.50 – about average price.
Salads and sandwiches are another example of the Berghoff’s blend of international flavors. Also inspired by the flavors and colors of Europe, there are a multitude of options like roasted beets to lamb. Some dishes may be a little more exotic in comparison to American tastes. One example is the grilled octopus.
Unfortunately, the Berghoff still enforces this notion of German food being meat heavy. Most items include some sort of meat. There are very few vegan options, which may be discouraging to potential diners.
As mentioned before, you cannot have a German restaurant without beer. But, this may be a category where it may fall short. There is a slim selection of German beers. There are more popular breweries like Hofbrau or Weihenstephaner, but it leaves a little more to be desired. To compensate, there is a good selection of beers on tap. On tap beers were all local brews. Overall, the beer selection falls short. There is a good selection of white and red wines.
Now, the desserts are worth overlooking other areas. The apple strudel was worth dining for alone. In spite of it’s seemingly small portions, it really complimented the rest of the meal. It left you satisfied without feeling like you were about to pop. The rich, bold flavors of the apple paired well with the sweet golden raisins. Overall, it was the perfect marriage between the apples, pecans and raisins under the perfect layer of sweet caramel. Other dessert options featured German classics, such as the black forest cake.
Needless to say, this is not your typical imtiss. The flavors were elevated and refined in a grandiose way that may be too adventurous for those unfamiliar with German cuisine. But for those looking to sink their teeth in refreshing and almost luxurious food, then this place may be perfect.
The dining space is also gorgeous. The moment you enter, you can feel the Berghoff’s history. The wood walls and wood floors create a feeling of grandeur. The dim, golden lighting creates a relaxing atmosphere. It reminds you of the high-class luxuries of yesterday, but meets today’s standards.
7.5 out of 10 torches.
Open: 11 a.m. – 9 p.m., Monday – Friday. 11:30 – 9 p.m., Saturday. Closed Sundays.
Ambiance and noise: Relaxing and conversational.
Prices: Main courses: $14 – $32