Sunday, February 05, 2006

Bye Bye Berghoff...

Some of you may have heard about the Berghoff restaurant in Chicago. It's a German restaurant over 100 years old and has been in the same family all this time. When Prohibition was repealed, it obtained the first liquor license in Chicago, which is on display behind the bar. Eugene and I have been there a couple of times, most notably on the night he proposed. Unfortunately, the restaurant is closing for good at the end of the month, as the current Berghoff is tired of running it. So we decided we had to eat there one last time. You may remember from a previous post that we tried to go last month, but it was closed on Sunday. So we figured last night would be our best shot.

Knowing how popular this place is, we knew we'd have to wait a long time before being seated. So I dressed warmly and drove down to Evanston to meet Eugene after work. It would save us some time if he didn't have to come all the way to Elgin to pick me up, and it gave the chance to sell some books at a new Half Price Books first. (I got $14 for them, which was almost enough to pay for the Simon and Garfunkel 3-CD set I found.) By the time we got to the Berghoff, it was about 6:00, and the line to get in stretched down to the corner. Someone said it was a two-and-a-half to three-hour wait, but we braced ourselves and got in line anyway. The wait was as long as promised, and for the first time in over a month, we had below-average temperatures (or at least we didn't have the above-average temps we'd been enjoying). I soon found out I hadn't dressed warmly enough, as my feet got so cold I was convinced my toes would be frostbitten. We people-watched to keep us busy; there was a young girl playing with her family, a street musician playing the sax, a friendly dog that stood in line with us for a while, and a group of people in front of us who had come down from Michigan just for the Berghoff. All of this wasn't enough to distract me from the cold. We finally got into the restaurant around 8:30 and were seated before 9:00, but it took me longer than that to feel warm again.

I took my digital camera along and snapped a few shots before the batteries ran out (and of course I didn't have my spare set with me). Here are a couple of them, though the others are too dark to show the wood paneling and strands of lights in the interior. Strangely enough, Eugene and I were seated at the far end of the room, almost exactly where we were the last time we were here. They ran out of a few items on their menu, but luckily not my favorites. We both started off with hot tea to warm us up. Then I had a cup of chicken noodle soup while Eugene had a salad and some sausages as appetizers. For the main course, I had Wiener Schnitizel a la Holstein--a breaded veal cutlet with fried eggs on top. (The eggs are why it was "a la Holstein," though why they would name an egg dish after a breed of cow is beyond my knowledge of German culture.) I also had sides of creamed spinach and spaetzle, German noodles. Eugene had more sausages, sauerkraut (something I can't stand), and spinach. For dessert, we both had apple strudel with ice cream. We started off with a Guten Appetite, and we were both satt (satisfied) at the end.

It was a long wait, but it was worth it. If I had to do it again, though, I'd wear a few more layers of clothes and make sure my camera batteries are fully charged. It would have been nice to get a picture of us at the table.

One of the people ahead of us in line (the one from Michigan) commented that another old German restaurant in his town had also closed recently. He thought that perhaps this type of food appealed only to those who had grown up on it, unlike Chinese or Italian food, which you can find everywhere. It's a shame, but I do have my own spaetzle maker. I haven't used it yet, but I need to learn how so Eugene and I can someday pass this tradition on to our Filipino-Irish-German children.

(Sigh. The pictures aren't loading. I'll post this entry and try again later.)

7 comments:

The Dear Nyer said...

Sandra, we have some really great authentic German restaurants around my home too. And, like your favorite, some of our oldest and most authentic are closing. It is a shame. We too, are seeing more of the same, fast food joints, Italian, Chinese, etc.... Yes, they are great too but, it is not the same. I hope you too find another place to call "yours" again soon.

Sandra said...

Hopefully some of these restaurants will still be around the next time Eugene and I head out to NY. There is another German restaurant in Milwaukee; I've been there a few times with my German class in high school. As for finding another place that means as much to us as the Berghoff, though, does this mean Eugene will have to propose again? ;)

The Dear NYer said...

Sandra, I guess it does ;) Next time the two of you are in NY let me know and I'll recommend the most authentic restaurant around the city. My "proud to be German" brother-in-law knows the best German eats around these parts.

Eugene said...

Better yet, Dear nyer, let's meet and go out to dinner if we ever are in the area. Besides, it'll be great to finally meet you.

The Dear NYer said...

Sandra and Eugene that sounds like fun. My cousin, Gus, you know the one that "almost" moved to The Windy City, and the one you two were so nice to talk to on the phone about your city, he is moving back to NY from Greece in a few weeks. I'm sure he'll love to join us so, it's a date you two ;)

Eugene said...

Please extend my greetings to Gus for me.

the dear Nyer said...

You got it!

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