A couple of Fridays ago, J, my sister & her partner, Jac and I went to dinner at Alpine Restaurant in Carlisle. Tucked away in “down town Carlisle” (I would say – tucked away in a suburban street), Alpine is run by a husband and wife team, and serves traditional German food. Meat and potatoes – right up my alley.
It is quite an intimate restaurant, with two separate dining areas for tables up to six people, and a special banquet area tucked away behind velvet curtains. It’s not fancy, by any means, but is certainly comfortable and fun, with lots of kitsch tourist trinkets from Germany adorning the walls and most of the available space (oddly, amongst this there were also a few South American wood carvings, but that’s an aside).
We were all quite excited to sample the menu, having enjoyed our brief encounters with German food.
We began with a serve of Garlic Bread for the table – we were all ravenous and this was very welcome.
I started with an Onion Soup, which, while not strictly German, was definitely tasty and full of home made goodness (meaty bits which definitely indicated this was not your standard Continental soup mix). Besides generous amounts of softened onion, meat bits and small chunks of potato, there was also a nice cheese covered piece of toasted french style bread adorning the top of my mini soup tureen. Nice.
J started with a Prawn Cocktail ‘tossed in brandy mayonnaise‘. We all sampled stray prawns and were pleasantly surprised that they still had a satisfying texture (not at all like your standard defrosted cooked prawn), and the accompanying sauce was tasty.
It was a very generous portion, which impressed me. So too did the flavour of the sauce – I couldn’t really detect a brandy flavour, but the absence of the standard tomato sauce filler impressed me. Everyone who knows me well will be well aware that nothing freaks me out like guerilla tomato sauce. (I have been a tomato sauce hater from way back. I can’t tolerate it on or in anything!)
For my main meal, I chose the bratwurst, which was served with fried potatoes, sauerkraut and a blob of mustard. I love sauerkraut – I really enjoyed this! The fried potatoes had the most amazing crusty bits, and were sprinkled with fried onion and speck/bacon bits.
J had a Rahm Schnitzel – a pan fried schnitzel with a chardonnay and mushroom cream sauce, Jac had the Beef Goulash, and TFP had a rather amazing Chicken Schnitzel. Sorry, there are no photos of these!
The main issue we had with this meal overall, was the service. We all agreed that the food was not to blame for our overall “blah” feelings after our meal. The restaurant was not fully booked, but there were evidently several group bookings (another group of 6 people must have put strain on the kitchen) and lots of couples throughout the two main dining areas. Add to that walk ins, and it made for a rather difficult juggling act for the one wait person on the night. While she was certainly good natured and accommodating, the number of diners stretched this a little too thin. There were little signs on each table warning diners that ‘good food takes time’, a gentle reminder which we weren’t really convinced by. Certainly, any cook will attest to the fact that food takes time – but when you’re running a business, too many reminders (on the menu and on the table) plus long wait times between drinks and taking orders is an indication that your service isn’t quite up to scratch.
By our calculations, the restaurant could have made around around $80 extra from our table alone, had we been offered another round of drinks or had we wanted to stay for dessert. But after we sat waiting for too long, we had other ideas. Other diners also looked a little bewildered by the wait time.
I would definitely recommend the food (it was delicious!) but keep in mind you may be waiting a little longer than expected.
Read my sister TFP’s review here!