Cara has been wanting to try J. Betski’s for a while now and I have usually talked her out of it. Not because I had heard the food was bad (I hadn’t) and not because I thought it would be bad (I didn’t) – I just didn’t know what to expect from a German restaurant or even what to order. Let’s be honest – my experience in “german” food begins and ends at Mr. Dunderbak’s and honestly I don’t even know if they were trying very hard. I did think that J. Betski’s was a little more upscale (it is) and my apprehension was as much about going in and having no idea what to order and spending a lot of money as it was anything else. If you were trapped in my thought pattern it is time to re-think all of it.
First – the food – yes you see a few new words on the menu if you don’t speak German and/or are familiar with their cuisine. Yes they have bratwurst, kielbasa and sauerkraut but so do most ball parks and no I don’t know if most people know the difference in bratwurst, kielbasa or even a hot dog. I didn’t and when I admitted that to the waiter I was given excellent descriptions and suggestions on both what I may like and what I might want to try. Second – the price – we determined (before we went in) that in order to “play it safe” both with our palates and our wallets we’d go after the dinner special – an appetizer to share and two pub plates for $20. The waiter was helpful in getting us where we wanted to go and I’ll have to admit all the food on the table was excellent.
We got the fresh kielbasa as an appetizer – it was likely the best sausage I’ve ever had. It was served over sauerkraut and with two kinds of mustard and it was great – take that ball parks. The two pub plates we ordered were the Meatball Goulash with Spaetzle and Charcuterie Plate – Pastrami, Black Forest Ham, Duck Sausage, Chicken Liver Mousse, and Assorted Pickles we were ordering a little blind here. Neither one of us knew what Spaetzle was when we ordered and still not clear after looking it up online but I am guessing that we had a fresh egg noodle. Doesn’t matter it was good. The Charcuterie Plate (No – I didn’t say it – I pointed to it on the menu and said “that one”) was great. The ham and pastrami were excellent as was the duck sausage and the knockwurst which replaced the chicken liver mousse (they explained why but I didn’t really pay attention). All of that surrounded more sauerkraut, some pickles and some ligonberries (I knew about these from IKEA – kind of a sweet cranberry).
Overall I thought the meal was excellent and will definitely go back. Next time I may do a little menu research first and be a little more knowledgeable. Then again – I may not – we did well once just going in on a whim. The picture is awful because it was taken with my camera phone and without a flash.