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By Ashley Ludwig
This fall, be sure and drop into Lazy Dog Cafe Temecula, at the Promenade Temecula – one of the favorite restaurant stops at the outdoor mall. If you’ve fallen into an “ordering rut” at Lazy Dog (my favorite pulled pork sandwich beckons every time I sit down), be sure and try the Chef Gabe’s specials—they will not disappoint.
These Oktoberfest specials will be on the Lazy Dog Cafe menu through October 31, 2013—so get them while they’re hot. Chef Gabe, of the Lazy Dog Restaurant and Bar, has created a truly authentic German Pretzel Crusted Schnitzel, perfectly matched with a six-beer “old world” vs. “new world” sampler tray of Hefeweizen, Oktoberfest ale, and Dunkel style (Dunkel meaning “dark” according to my 100% German husband). On a Friday at noon, Lazy Dog Restaurant and Bar was humming with hungry customers as we were shown to our table. With friendly service, Alicia made us most welcome, and General Manager Mike Barron was on hand to tell us all about the special menu items available through the end of October: Pretzel Crusted Schnitzel, and Old World vs. New World Beer sampler.
Kids and adults will enjoy this entrée, and the platter size is enough for two, but I’m betting you won’t want to share. Not by a long shot. The pretzel crusted schnitzel is served with highly-drinkable whole grain amber ale mustard sauce. Try a slice of juicy pork cutlet without first then another, dipped in this mustard-rich cream. You’ll find your flavors enhanced and expanded with the perfectly matched, zingy sauce. The accompanying Napa cabbage slaw is delectably light, yet slightly peppery, with slivers of green apple mellowing the flavors. A healthy portion of authentic German skin-on new potato salad with bacon flavors, round out the platter. Together, the perfect combination that sets you thinking of windblown fall leaves, a russet-colored sunset, and dragging out the fall sweaters.
According to Chef Martin, after our rave compliments, “We make it exactly Chef Gabe’s way.” Lazy Dog Temecula’s scratch-kitchen is run by chef Toribio Marin, who prepared our Pretzel Crusted Schnitzel (boneless pork cutlet, mallet flattened in a way Pioneer Woman would love and appreciate), breaded with fresh-ground pretzels, and fried to succulent, crispy perfection. Per Barron, this dish is already getting Oktoberfest-worthy attention in Temecula.
Thankfully, because this is just the beginning of fall in Temecula, California, this meal is paired with the six-beer sampler in an “Old World” vs. “New World” battle of the German beers. We dug in, and as Temecula’s wine-tasting country now offers many breweries as well, we rolled up our sleeves and accepted the Lazy Dog Oktoberfest beer tasting challenge.
“Old World” flavors of Hefeweizen: Weihenstaphener (one of the oldest breweries in the world, established in 786 A.D.) started us off with wheat and citrus flavors. Spicy on the nose, the banana hints are prevalent on the finish. With a bite of this and that, this was one of my favorites. Perhaps they’ve just perfected the Hefe process at this ancient brewery. Compared to the New World Hefe, by Lazy Dog brewers, this was more tropical fruit on the palate, think pineapple, mango, and banana at the finish. Still, with light tones of citrus and cloves, Lazy Dog Hefe is nothing to sneeze at. If you like the more fruity Hefe, this is probably for you.
Next, the Old World Oktoberfest by Spaten (brewing beer in Germany since 1397 A.D. – also, appropriately pronounced “SHH-PAH-TEN” according to the German at the table, is reddish in tone, medium body with a nicely toasted hop and malt flavor on the palate. This one was perfect with the Schnitzel, the sweetness of the pork cutlet matching the sweet finish of the Oktoberfest beer. Matched with Firestone’s Oktoberfest (brewing since 1996—a baby by comparison!) this beer has Pilsner due to imported Pilsner and Vienna malts. Called a “true German Marzen bier” Firestone gets this one it right.
Finally, for the Dunkel (or dark) beers, the Hofbrau (established in 1549 A.D.) is a Munich-style dark lager that has flavors of toasted pumpernickel, almond butter, and clay. This one is flavorful, rich with cocoa and earthy hop notes on the finish. When compared with the New World Mission Brewing company (est. 2007) this dark “dunkel” beer returns to aromas of banana and cloves, that rich barley flavor and malt character make this a tossup for this reviewer.
The beer sampler is a steal at $7.95, and certainly gives you the full flavor of Oktoberfest. Any and all of the beers in the tray are available for full size purchase, but a sampling of fall is definitely the way to go for your Oktoberfest experience at Lazy Dog.
Remember, when you dine at Lazy Dog Restaurant and Bar, buy your movie tickets and head to the Edwards Cinemas for a show. Ticket prices are lower than Costco, and no hassle exchanging passes for tickets at the theater, just around the corner.
Special thanks to JS2 Communications, and Lazy Dog Restaurant and Bar, for a wonderful tasting experience. Stay tuned for our full review of the new Mexican Meals available at Lazy Dog Restaurant and Bar in Temecula.