If you have ever been to a German restaurant or, if you were so lucky, Munich for an authentic Oktoberfest celebration you would have been left feeling like something was missing from Crane Alley’s annual Oktoberfest last Sunday. However, if you were just out to have a good time with some friends, and I recommend bringing them with you in as big a quantity as you can next year, then Crane Alley did lead for a good time.
The female staff was dressed in fraulein-esque attire and the one male greeter, most likely the manager, was wearing actual leather lederhosen. In fact, many patrons were also dressed in authentic style lederhosen, leading me to wonder how there are so many people who just happen to have those hanging in their closet.
There was a bit of a wait to be seated—but nothing outrageous—and this was totally expected for a special event. Typical to most Oktoberfests, there was a sampling of standards such as bratwurst, red cabbage, and obatza. Oddly there were some standards missing like spaetzle and apple strudel.
On tap from the beer truck parked in the back were several Oktoberfest offerings. If you didn’t want to wait for a table or just wanted to get a beer while the wait staff was busy, you could walk up to the man at the truck and get anything from a half-pint to a litre of the special beers on tap. It seemed like the litre was the way to go for most people, and why not? It was Oktoberfest afterall.
You could even take home a commemorative stein with your full litre of beer for a minor upcharge. Wanting the full experience, I went for it. I got the Weihenstephaner festbier which is a typical gold-colored lager that was easy to drink and paired well with meat, potatoes and bread. It’s a good choice of beer if you don’t have a couple of hours to commit to drinking a litre of dark beer or would like to have more than one type of beer since it is lower in alcohol percentage than the other offerings.
Randomly, we were met with a serenade from upstairs of some very happy people singing in what can only be assumed to be German. What they were singing was near incomprehensible, but they were clearly happy while doing it and having a grand time.
Off the special menu, we got almost one of everything. The only thing left out was the German potato salad, which I’ve never found to vary much and it is typically very vinegary with a minor bacon undertone.
Almost everything came in its own individual paper disposable serving tray instead of being served on an actual plate or combined into a meal. Perhaps the restaurant had simply run out of plates due to it being busy rather than this being a typical representation of how they serve food during Oktoberfest.
The bratwurst ($6) was the best out of all the specials and was beer boiled and cooked to tender perfection. Served with a very spicy mustard and sauerkraut on a bun it was also the best value for what you got. I could have gone with no bun and had a brat on a plate with some kraut and mustard on the side and still been happy.
The schnitzel ($6) was also tasty, cooked golden brown and topped with a nice gravy. (The only way to really mess up a schnitzel is to burn it when frying. If you do that you may as well toss it and the oil in the trash as there is no saving anything at that point.)
The red cabbage ($3) was a bit undercooked and the obatzda (German cheese and butter spread, $10) would have paired better with a nice Bavarian style pretzel instead of the offered rye bread. The rye bread was from Pekara and something I will need to keep in mind for future sandwich makings at home, especially for reubens.
The potato croquettes ($4) had a nice dill/sour cream sauce that helped cut the heaviness that is a deep fried potato ball. They also offered a nice value for what you got as the serving size was substantial and if you drank more than one litre beer with them, you would be set for a meal.
The linzer torte ($5) for dessert was a bit disappointing. I’m not entirely certain why I was expecting more from it, I know what linzer torte is and have had it many times. It was very pretty with the powdered sugar and almonds sprinkled about. The top crust and the raspberry filling were the best parts. It almost seemed more that we just got an undercooked piece as the bottom crust was soggy and seemed a tad un-done.
After all the food, I still had a third of a litre of beer left so we sat marveling at the amount of lederhosen present and the drunken revelry from upstairs.
For more information about Crane Alley, visit the restaurant’s website.
All photos by Shanon Beranek.