Alibi V.24 No.11 • March 12-18, 2015 

Restaurant Review

Mahlzeit!

Heimat House takes you back to the old country

Heimat House
Eric Williams ericwphoto.com
I move from Albuquerque’s bright sun into the dark foyer of Heimat House, and in that moment of my eyes’ confusion, I inhale deeply. That savory whiff, with vinegar-pickled top notes, bread, meat and potatoes at the heart, fruity, cabbage-y undertones and a mild yeasty finish, is an aromatic promise of the delights to come. One might recall a Gasthaus near Bremen, or Oma’s kitchen in Kenosha, or have no familiar memories to go with the scent yet. Fear not—as soon as you are seated, new memories are on the way.

The Bayrischer Schmorbraten ($14.50) and Sauerbraten ($16.50) are regional variations on very similar dishes. Slow-cooked beef with traditional sides of stewed red cabbage and potato-based starch. Sounds pretty bland when described that way, right? By no means! The long, tender strands of meat have bathed leisurely in a rich broth redolent of onion, salt, pepper, caraway and, in the case of the Sauerbraten, vinegar. The red cabbage side (Rotkohl for those of you who sprechen) has just the right hints of apple and vinegar. German fried potatoes, golden crisp outside, pale and toothsome underneath, are appealing but slightly low key. The potato dumplings accompanying the Sauerbraten are doughy and unremarkable until swabbed through the gravies of the meat and cabbage, at which point they transform into a delicious mega-dumpling. Full marks for authenticity there!

The potato dumplings accompanying the Sauerbraten are doughy and unremarkable until swabbed through the gravies of the meat and cabbage, at which point they transform into a delicious mega-dumpling. Full marks for authenticity there!

Vegetarians are well attended with solid dishes in every section of the menu. The Spätzle mit Käse ($5.50) is a Teutonic mac & cheese and provoked a bit of fork-jousting for the last morsels, while the Zupa ogorkowa ($4.75)—dill pickle soup—is a mellow surprise reminiscent of creamy mushroom soup perked up by sour cream and the salt-vinegar twang of sour dills. Fully a third of the menu is gluten free and like the vegetarian options, don’t suffer for the specialization. A side by side comparison of the Deutscher Schokoladenkuchen (German chocolate cake), available in regular ($4.75) and gluten free ($5.25), revealed no significant taste or texture differences. Both have a firm sweet-sand crumb, and the caramel coconut frosting is worth licking the plate.

Käse mit Spätzle
Käse mit Spätzle
Eric Williams ericwphoto.com
Königsburger Klöpse ($10.75)—meatballs with caper sauce—is a serious show-stealer. Enormous, tender meat spheres nestle in a blended sour cream sauce. Capers are mixed in with the meatballs as well as blended into the sauce, so the palate gets a one-two punch of this Mediterranean delicacy’s distinctive bright piquancy. German noodles and cucumber salad accompanying the Klöpse balance the plate nicely. The noodles are firm and dense like gnocchi, while the cucumber salad’s thin slices and sprinkling of dill relieve the heaviness of the meal.

Currywurst ($10.75) and Bratwurst mit Brötchen ($10.75) are unquestionably staples of German cuisine, and no doubt Heimat House sells them by the Boot-load. The pale, soft tenderness of German-style sausages, salty and fatty and in the case of the Currywurst, made zingy by a sort of spicy mustard-ketchup sauce. In a restaurant where many of the entrees are enormous—one entree yielding leftovers weighing nearly two pounds—the Kleinhunger options on the appetizers menu are worth checking out. The Wurstplatte (sausage on sauerkraut, $6.50) and Laugenbretzeln Weisslacker (soft pretzel with beer-cheese, $6.50) especially satisfy the salt craving that comes with serious beer tasting.

After four visits at varied times of day and week—including on Valentine’s Day in the afternoon—my complaints are minimal. The Mizeria cucumber salad wanted salt. The Schnitzel really needed to be beaten more before the breading and frying. A bread basket might or might not turn up at the table after orders are placed (although when it does, the bread is a fine-crumbed dark or medium rye farmhouse style Bauernbrot with a pot of whipped honey-butter). The staff, as a rule, does not speak German at all, which means if you do and pronounce the menu items as they are listed on the menu (which is to say in German), you will be rewarded with hesitation or even confusion. They do, however, speak food and beer and are quick on the draw with special requests, beverage service or supplementary ordering.

The place really is a ringer for a Gasthaus in Germany—dark wood everywhere, unobtrusive lighting, multi-tiered seating areas, large TV screens set into the bar’s retaining wall. Even the way it is tucked behind a laundromat is authentic placement. There is so much beer and wine behind the bar that there is no room for a television; you’ll have to sit in one of the nearby small booths to watch while you get your fill.

Deutscher Schokoladenkuchen
Deutscher Schokoladenkuchen
Eric Williams ericwphoto.com
The full menu is available at the bar and, without exception, the staff is pleasant, accommodating and does a great job of working out just how much interaction any given patron is looking for. The beer selection is overwhelming at first, but with the help of friends and bartender, you’ll work your way from Andechser to Zeppelin in no time. Hofbraü Märzen, Bitburger Pilsner and Krombacher Pils are crowd-pleasers, while some of the more adventurous draughts—Green Tea IPA, sour Belgian Monch’s ale, triple and quad Bock beers—are serious palate challengers. Patio season can’t start soon enough!

Heimat House Restaurant & Beer Garden

theheimathouse.com
6910 Montgomery Blvd NE
814-0014

Hours: 11am to 9pm Monday to Thursday,
11am to 11pm Friday and Saturday,
10:30am to 8pm Sunday
Booze: Yes
Plastic: Yes

The Alibi recommends: Königsburger Klöpse, Zupa ogorkowa, Käse mit Spätzle, GF Deutscher Schokoladenkuchen.