You can bet your lederhosen that sometime during dinner at Old Heidelberg, someone will be up doing the “chicken dance.” After all, this longtime Fort Lauderdale destination for brats, beer and sauerbraten is Oktoberfest central, an old-fashioned chalet that looks as if it had been plucked from a Bavarian fairy tale. This month, the cheerful German restaurant features accordion players, costumed dancers and amber-golden German lager brewed in the style of the Marzen beer served at a royal wedding celebration in 1810 that launched the Oktoberfest tradition in Munich.
Yvonne and Stephan Liebe left their home in Berlin 30 years ago to take over Old Heidelberg from their aunt and uncle, Deiter and Heidi Dorrenberg, the owners for nearly two decades. A butcher and sausage maker, Dorrenberg still makes the restaurant’s flavorful kielbasa, wurst, liver dumplings (served in soup) and other meats at the deli next door. Old Heidelberg has a full bar, but most patrons will be toasting ‘‘Prost!” with a German brew like Bitburger or Spaten Oktoberfest.
Ambience: You’ll leave State Road 84 far behind when you walk into this Teutonic temple with its kitschy gnomes, rows of beer steins and waitresses in dirndl skirts. Deep blue and white streamers flow from wooden rafters in cozy dining rooms decorated with lace curtains, cookie jars, cowbells and cuckoo clocks. If you’re looking for a little oom pah pah, you’re in the right place.
- Thick, filling potato pancakes with nicely crisp edges
- Silky, subtly sea-salty Norwegian smoked salmon with a dab of horseradish
- A generous & refreshing house salad – coleslaw, marinated green beans, carrot-raisin salad, cucumber slices in sour cream, lettuce, tomato and thinly sliced onion
- Homey potato soup smoky from bacon and brimming with bits of potato and onions
- Oktoberfest plate (available all year) – a juicy meatball (shaped like a patty), Dorrenberg’s smoked pork chop and an array of his sausages (bratwurst, thüringer, knockwurst, kielbasa) served with sweet-sour red cabbage, crisp sauerkraut and whipped potatoes
- Chef Stephan Liebe’s jäger (hunter’s) schnitzel – a tender, greaseless pork cutlet smothered in mushroom sauce and served with spaetzle
- Light, springy and delicious noodles
- Creamy Gorgonzola sauce over a special of pork cutlet
- Schweinshaxe Old Munich – a huge pork shank
- Spanferkel – roast suckling pig
- Bavarian roasted goose
- Homey apple strudel dusted with powdered sugar, studded with almonds and raisins and served with ice cream and vanilla sauce
- Intriguing & refreshing rote gruetze, a tart compote of mixed berries served with vanilla sauce
What Didn’t Work
- Overly rich beef stroganoff