Going to the Black Forest Inn for dinner is like stepping into a time warp. The spacious inn with multiple rooms, some with paneled walls, recalls a time when it was one of the best restaurants around. In those days, the waitresses wore dirndls, puffed-sleeve blouses, and laced-up black bodices—very Teutonic. Now they dress in standard black tie, which, although attractive, doesn’t quite have the gemütlich appeal of the old German outfits.
The food hasn’t changed a lot in the years since the inn first opened. It’s still a mixture of classic German selections and Continental standards such as escargot, shrimp cocktail, rack of lamb, and beef tenderloin. The German dishes are by far the best, although those used to more contemporary food should be prepared for the relative heaviness of German cuisine.
A touch that I really like is the small plate of addictive crisp cheese toasts that diners can munch on while perusing the menu. The pâté du jour, a smooth liver pâté, is more than acceptable, as is the hors d’ouevres Black Forest, a compilation of shrimp, liver pâté, seafood pâté with dill mayonnaise, and smoked salmon. Black Forest Maultashen are like large, heavy ravioli filled with tasty veal and spinach and served with gravy and fried onions. The delicate Sulze (head cheese) arrives as thin pink slices flecked with parsley and served with vinaigrette. Homemade half-moon pasta filled with lobster and served with a lobster-cream sauce and slivered vegetables is well flavored but heavy. The cream-of-corn soup is decent.
As for the main course, the Wiener schnitzel is moist in its crisp coating. Slices of sauerbraten in a ginger-and-red-wine reduction are tasty and hearty. Jägerschnitzel (sliced veal with a mushroom cream sauce) is one of the inn’s best dishes. The traditional beef Stroganoff in a creamy sauce is tender but a little bland. There are specials every evening, such as braised wild boar in Riesling with wild mushrooms, which is worth ordering when available. Also good is the roasted duck breast, cooked as requested and expertly plated. All main courses are available with a choice of two side dishes: salad, potato du jour, homemade spaetzle, potato dumplings, rice pilaf, a fresh vegetable, or red cabbage. Go for the slightly chewy spaetzle and the sweet-and-sour red cabbage.
When Heinz Aichem, who opened the Black Forest Inn in 1978, is in the kitchen, he prepares seasonal dessert specialties, like the delicious fresh-rhubarb soup and rhubarb crumble. At other times his son, Heiner, and occasionally Heinz’s wife, Holly, make the long list of desserts, including the light and flaky apple strudel. The peach Melba is fine, as are fresh strawberries or raspberries with Grand Marnier sauce or Bavarian cream and the cherries in red wine over vanilla ice cream. But at all costs avoid the Black Forest Cake, a tasteless shadow of what this classic should be.
Reviewed October, 2005.