If you can’t get enough of the annual German-American Festival in Oregon, you don’t have to wait an entire year to enjoy the food. The Black Forest Cafe, a restaurant on the German American Festival grounds is open year-round and serving up a wide selection of authentic German foods. Formerly a private club, the Black Forest Cafe opened to all in 2012. Matt Pfouts, Assistant Manager/Chef, a member of the GAF committee, worked on transitioning the club to a restaurant and, though he wasn’t a chef previously, he’s picked up the knack(wurst) quickly.
“We’re a non-profit organization based off of seven societies, Pfouts explains of the restaurant’s origins. Those societies include the Toledo United Swiss, the Bavarian Sports Club and the Toledo Schwäbischer Unterstützungs-Verein, a financial support group which hosts Germanic events throughout the year, including the summer Waldfest.
An origin story
“Our main goal was to turn this place out for more than just the [GAF],” Pfouts explained of why the societies decided to expand their clubhouse into a restaurant. “This place is so beautiful. It’s 12 acres of German culture and heritage that people will enjoy. So we wanted to open it up for the public.”
And as the clubs still meet on-site, the old-world-style restaurant, decorated with steins, a giant cuckoo clock and a mounted boar’s head across from a full bar, serves a dual purpose. “One of the benefits was the exposure the clubs get— some people might want to become social or active members,” Pfouts says, shrugging. Sign us up!
It really is an amazing space that conveys a sense of history. While the building itself isn’t that old, the restaurant was built on the property between 30-35 years ago (the GAF is 52 years old), it manages to transport you in spirit (and feasting!) to the Black Forest in Germany. And when it comes to the food, you’ll feel like a true Teuton.
When an appetizer is called A Taste of Germany, you know you have to dive in headfirst. Brought out on a large serving board, this app offers your choice of wurst, sauerkraut, Kartoffelpuffer (potato pancakes) and Obatzda und Brezel, which is a cheese spread served with pretzels.
Sampling the Jaegerschnitzel, the Black Forest Burger and the Lake Perch Sandwich, three very different menu options, we learned that they all have something in common: they’re huge. These Germans don’t mess around with food and it’s all delicious. The Jaegerschnitzel is their bestseller and it’s easy to see why. A pork cutlet pounded flat, breaded, fried and served with a wine and mushroom sauce, pushed the flavor into the realm of haute cuisine. The Black Forest Burger comes with all the fixin’s of a classic hamburger with bacon, but it gets a protein boost from the addition of German sausage on the burger (Your choice of sausage — we sagely went with knockwurst). And if you do opt for the Lake Perch Sandwich, you’re gonna love the batter they use. It doesn’t overtake the flavor of the fish. And yes, you can get both the potato salad and the spaetzle as sides. Overall, it’s a big menu and you’re gonna wanna try everything on it. Especially…
We might have a winner for best dessert in Toledo. Yes, that’s a bold statement in a town where there’s so many amazing sweets, but zee Germans are known worldwide for their chocolate cake and this one is mind-blowingly delicious. It’s also big enough for a couple of people (though we won’t judge if you don’t share) and covered in a cherry compote that makes this a perfect cap to an excellent meal. But if you don’t like chocolate, their carrot cake is a fantastic alternative and nearly an equal to its rich counterpart. Each dessert is only $4, so if you want to take someone out for a luxurious birthday treat, this is a place that won’t break the bank. Now if we could just get them to open on the weekends…
11am-9pm, Monday-Friday 3624 Seaman Rd., Oregon.
(Go further than your GPS tells you and look for the roadside sign)
419-593-0012 | blackforestcafe.net