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New German cafe fare is 'wunderbar'

The Sauer Kraut

German Deli, Bakery & Cafe

10181 Old Olympic Highway

582-1400

6 a.m-6 p.m. Closed Sunday

$ - $$



I usually don't review new restaurants because it takes them a while to get their act together.

And The Sauer Kraut still is getting its bearings. But what bearings it has definitely are worth the experience.

There will be a cooking school with guest chefs from other Sequim restaurants and a photographic art gallery to showcase one of the owner's talents. A 16-foot movie screen is available for presentations.

Located in the new Rock Plaza at the Sequim Avenue roundabout, this restaurant is definitely something different by Sequim standards.

Walking inside, I was transported to an airy European sidewalk cafe. Plans are to transform the upper walls into a village square of rooftops and facades, anchored by a mammoth four-faced clock tower.

Beyond the picture windows has got to be one of the most magnificent views of any Sequim restaurant - the full panorama of the Olympic Mountains in unobstructed glory.

Of course, the menu here centers on a particular region. And although there's much more to The Sauer Kraut than German fare, let's start with that.

Greg made an uncomplicated choice: corned beef Reuben on subtly sweet, toasted dark German rye with hot sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and "special sauce."

I drove the crew crazy asking a zillion questions. One of the partners, Daniel (also the artist photographer in residence), was very patient with my clueless questions. I couldn't make up my mind ... so Daniel fashioned me a custom sampler lunch. So I tried new things. There was nothing left on my plate.

Among the hot dishes is pulled pork (Carolina style - shredded meat with a tangy vinegar sauce) and sauerbraten (pot roast marinated in ginger snap gravy). There was bratwurst and currywurst (smothered in curry sauce similar to barbecue sauce). In Germany it's served in bite-sized pieces skewered on toothpicks.

In the carbohydrate column was spaetzel, Germany's pasta - handmade noodles sauteed in butter and parsley; and something that looked like a matzo ball. For my sampler plate, they ladled pot roast and gravy on top.

Pre-made salads offer a variety of cuisines of the world and change daily. How about wheatberry with roasted squash, red onion and bell pepper; mixed grains with spring veggies and sunflower seeds; organic quinoa grain (pronounced "keenwa") with shrimp tossed in a citrus vinaigrette; roasted beets with orange vinaigrette; and fresh mozzarella, black olives, green peppers and scallions in a homemade mint pesto with tomatoes.

The day I lunched with my friend, she ordered warm rotkohl, literally red cabbage (and now I know where the cole in coleslaw comes from!) tossed in a combination of tangy and slightly sweet seasonings along with a side of warm German potato salad made with sauteed onions. Very very tasty.

I had their chicken salad seasoned with tarragon and combined with roasted grapes, celery and walnuts. I paired it with sides of fresh roasted vegetables (one of my favs - good balance for the sinful meat dishes) and homemade coleslaw - simply fabulous.

Their pastry chef delights with everchanging choices. Tiny fruit tarts, cupcakes, muffins, cinnamon rolls, turnovers and cookies - one with lavender. I saw peach mango and apple cream cheese strudels and a moist blueberry concoction (big seller). Especially intriguing was an orange vanilla tort with honey syrup vanilla buttercream and cookie crumble, and a chocolate chiffon cake with kiwi and vanilla buttercream.

'Tis a pity they don't offer a sampler because everything looks so wonderful. I settled on a cake layered with raspberries and almond buttercream. Nirvana.

Stay tuned for gelato, chocolates and smoothies.

Refrigerated sandwiches were comfortingly familiar: tuna or egg salad, and salami or pastrami and ham and Swiss, a vegetarian sandwich with housemade humus and cheddar, and turkey, cheddar and chipotle.

Some sandwiches came on croissants or brotchen - a German version of a roll. Also refrigerated were German potato pancakes and something that looked just like pizza with turkey, tomato, horseradish pesto and jack cheese on focaccia.

A day-old bargain section contains items previously found across the aisle. I saw a moist chocolate layer cake for about a dollar a piece.

On Saturdays, there's an all-you-can-eat breakfast for $10 (children half price).

How do you say "bon appetit" in German?

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