The best biergarten and German gastropub, bar none. Great beer, well-trained servers, and some excellent food! We come here regularly, every couple of months or so.
We always order the potato pancakes with the housemade applesauce, sour cream optional. Best latkes ever: just pure potato shreds, griddled with a weight, crispy brown edges and tender interior.
Nurnberger sausages with braised sauerkraut are an excellent pairing with the pancakes.
Spatzle baked with cheese - get it with the optional bacon. Killer rich German version of mac’n’cheese.
Reuben sandwich: We love their Reubens save for one flaw - every once in a while, somebody in the kitchen is tasked with cutting the corned beef and that person DOES NOT KNOW how to cut meat. This person is cutting it WITH the grain, rather than AGAINST the grain. Even tender meat is chewy this way! When cut properly, this is one of the best Reubens around. We always ask for extra sauerkraut. Only Solbar/Calistoga makes a better Reuben, and it costs more (smile-plus it’s a long drive!).
The one dish we’re disappointed with lately is the revised version of the cabbage rolls. We love cabbage rolls and Speisekammer is the only restaurant to offer them full-time. But the filling needs to be lightened up - the use of rice or breadcrumbs is in recipes for a reason. Instead of being moist and tender, their all-meat stuffing is heavy and leaden.
Desserts have taken a big step upwards and improved. If you want apple strudel, tell the waitstaff when you first order - they often run out!
Ha ha - Just last week I walked my buddy through making corned beef for the first time and when he sent me a pic of the final product he had cut with the grain, which of course I razzed him about!
Nice report, I’m bookmarking for my next visit over the bridge.
Thanks for the report. It has always been on my list but a long drive from the peninsula.
How would you rate the ruben compared to the peninsula’s Refuge?
Hi Brian, sorry I can’t compare the two - haven’t been to Refuge. We’re the reverse of you - for us it’s a long drive to the Peninsula! Haven’t gotten there at all in 2 yrs due to home remodeling and then the pandemic/lockdown, sigh.
The best Reubens I know of are at Solbar/Calistoga. Execchef Gustavo Rios trained under the great Brandon Sharp and the house-made corned beef is amazing.
Speisekammer in Alameda serves “classic” German dishes as they were popular especially 30-40 years ago in Germany and are still associated for many tourists as typical German dishes. Even though German cuisine has quite changed over the last half century with many people from Turkey, Italy, Croatia, Greece moving to Germany it is from time to time nice to have those dishes in a restaurant. Overall Speisekammer had some very good entrees whereas appetizers and desserts were more of a mixed bag.
Reibekuchen - potato pancakes with apple compote - unfortunately quite bad start to our dinner. Clearly not made fresh as they were served cold and way to crispy. A good Reibekuchen should have a crispy outer layer and a soft “filling” - this rendition was just a cold, hard, sad version
Gebeizter Lachs - House cured Gravlax with a mustard-dill sauce - much better with a beautiful gravlax and a classical sauce
Shaved Brussel Sprouts Salad with pine nuts, grapes, parmesan and sherry vinaigrette- very good version with a nice balance from the grapes and vinaigrette
Sauerbraten - marinated (in red wine and spices) and braised tri-tip with red cabbage and spaetzle - excellent dish with a great balance between sour and savory of the meat. The red cabbage and spaetzle were also great.
Jaeger Schnitzel - pork cutlets with mushroom sauce and spaetzle - very tender meat with a nice savory mushroom sauce
Bratwurst gegrillt - rustic pork sausages with sauerkraut and mashed potatoes - very good sausages with some nice spices. Sauerkraut could have been a little bit less sour.
Apple Strudel with vanilla ice cream - Similar to the reibekuchen, the strudel would have been much better if not served cold which really muted the flavors.
Lemon Bundt-Cake - Good cake
At first I thought what’s this noodle dish in the German repertoire? Is it Rösti, maybe? Then I read your comment. So it’s neither.
For those you have not eaten “Reibekuchen” in Germany, it should look something like this, OK?!
This loose piece of laminated paper is brought to you together with the menu (in German) only on the day they have this special. We came here on a Tuesday especially for the potato fritters.
TripAdvisor has only 2 photos of Päffgen’s Reibekuchen, and 4 taken at Gaffel am Dom, out of over a thousand photos. Tourists usually order Schweinehaxe (the enormous pork knuckles), Bratwuerste, Sauerbraten etc.
I checked out almost all the Kölsch breweries’ tap rooms in town, but kept going back to Päffgen. A beautiful and traditional place to eat and drink.
Thanks! I guess we will have to wait for enough travel to get a comparison.
Refuge only does pastrami, not corned beef. That turns some people off. Refuge is pretty highly regarded and i would suggest a visit for anyone who lives pastrami. If only to throw shade on them
I was actually up in reach of solbar yesterday but had a different mission, your post almost caused me to check it out…
Hi Presunto: Yes, I realize almost everyone makes potato pancakes with a batter. I just don’t happen to like them that way. I find the potato flavor weak.
Honkman: Oooh, so sorry you got cold potato pancakes and strudel! Bummer! Next time send them back - you’d be justified in doing so. Spouse agrees with you on the smoked salmon, btw - but it is a pretty sizable starter so he doesn’t order it unless he’s really hungry (or if I’ve remembered to bring a coldpak so we can transport the leftovers home, LOL).
Yes, Speisekammer is definitely “old style”, similar to Teske’s/San Jose. For more modern versions of German food, there is Gaumenkitzel in Berkeley. We have gone a couple of times but it doesn’t impress me, mostly because the waitstaff, although pleasant, is not well-trained. And also, any restaurant that makes me fight with them to get more than a single pat of butter to spread on multiple slices of bread, does not win our vote to return. It’s happened twice which is two times too many.
The Eastern European restaurant we really loved was Cafe Europe in Santa Rosa, which sadly closed in 2015. Chef Robert Buchschachermair was classically trained in Austria and made the most luscious slow-roasted duck we’ve ever had. Definitely a destination-worthy dish; fall apart tender yet juicy meat.
We tend to not send dishes back if it is not inedible. In addition, for the reibekuchen being cold wasn’t even the biggest issue but being made in a style which pretty much all over Germany nobdy would associate with reibekuchen - it was simply lousy reibekuchen even if it would have been served at the right temperature.
We had one brief take out lunch at Gaumenkitzel and it was quite good (even though I am not sure that it is that much more “modern” in cooking style compared to Speisekammer. We will try over time the few other German/Austrian/Swiss restaurants in the Bay area and hopefully there are some other winners (for example the Currywurst with Bratkartoffeln at Esther’s in Los Altos is quite good)
I am with you on the sending things back front. I sent back a Last Word cocktail last week because it had a marascino cherry, not marascino liquor, because that’s just wrong (and they can simply add it). I can’t remember the last time i sent something back, before that.
I bow to your knowledge of current German cuisine! We will have to differ in our opinions on what is “right”. Speisekammer’s pancakes may not be a popular style, but obviously the owner likes them that way, and so do my spouse and I, as well as our friends whom we’ve introduced to the dish (but only served hot, thankfully).
Gaumenkitzel is probably more correctly marked as a CA version of German food. I like their quality a lot - we love Schaller & Weber sausages, which can be purchased at Piedmont Grocery/Oakland. We have not returned in quite a few years; early on they had a lot of turnover in their kitchen staff and we found the food rather uneven.
Our last lunch at Gaumenkitzel was pleasant but everything was unremarkable. My spouse commented it really wasn’t much different than going to a neighborhood cafe, except that it was more expensive with tired decor.
I’ll take your word on Currywurst. We’re not big fans of it. Love sausages, but that’s one dish that unfortunately doesn’t entice us to order it again. We love spicy sausages, but we’re more the Monkey Thai or Vientian Cafe Sai Oua type.
There’s supposed to be a very good Austrian chef in the Peninsula, so now that the lockdowns are over (and once I get my new eyeglasses!) I hope to drag my spouse out there to try it. If you decide to visit, would love to see you do a review on it!
They are quite often available in many European and other shops and we had some a few times and they are OK. For very good German (and other styles) sausages you should try the ones from Dittmer’s in Los Altos - made in-house and some of the best we had in the US - overall an outstanding butcher (Kassler etc) which rivals the best places in Germany
The Austrian chef is most likely the one at Naschmarkt in Campbell
Yes, I’ve heard good things about Dittmer. Unfortunately, that’s a long drive for us and almost impossible to avoid getting caught in heavy traffic.
We’ve only tried a few of the S&W types, but really liked their Weisswurst. Great breakfast sausage as well as those rare times I make choucroute garnie.
Thanks, Naschmarkt is the restaurant I was thinking of - couldn’t remember the name!
I’ve been to Naschmarkt a half dozen times. But not since the Pandemic. At that time it was the best restaurant in Campbell. I understand they are opening a new location in Palo Alto.
Yes. Other places on the peninsula for German
Steins (mv) (just a few dishes and less than before)
Ludwigs (mv) (havent tried current incarnation)
Das bierhauz (mv)
And we already mentioned Esthers.
Ludwig’s is in San Jose too, as is that bastion of brown wood, Teske’s Germania.
We had a really good meal here on Saturday. My wife was able to get a real rarity to drink: a Berliner Weisse with actual woodruff syrup. (She’s been trying to make her own syrup and hasn’t gotten there yet.) Served in a goblet, it looked enormous but really wasn’t.
Foodwise, I got the small jaeger schnitzel with a side of red cabbage and she got the frikadel (meatballs). Even the small was plenty for me. I could have used a little less cloves in the cabbage, but otherwise it was a good foil to the pork. Nice spaetzle, too.
Streudel was served at room temperature. I loved the addition of raisins, but then again I like raisins a lot. We also got the coffee creme brulee with mini-snickerdoodles: perfect execution and just the right amount of richness.
There was a lot on the menu we wanted to try, so we’ll definitely be back.
Yep - one of the “true” ways to serve it in Berlin (the other way is with cherry syrup)
Spieskammer also serves it with raspberry syrup. Next time.
Another visit to Speisekammer on a slow Sunday night gave a few good dishes with one interesting/questionable version of frikadellen. Service was OK but the kitchen was clearly bored and wanted to get the dishes out fast. Even though we always order in “waves” to have some control over the pacing and longer breaks between courses the entrees literally came to the table within two minutes of ordering. Overall still an enjoyable dinner and we will be back but it is also time to visit some other German restaurants in the Bay Area
Reibekuchen - Crispy potato pancakes with apple compote
Still not our preferred version as Speisekammer is shredding the potatoes too thinly which makes the reibekuchen too crispy but at least this time they were hot and freshly made
Aufschnittplatte - German cold cut platter with mortadella, soppressata, coppa, salami, summer sausage and herbed goat cheese
Good cold cut platter with quite a large amount of different cold cuts for the price. It would be nice if they could add/exchange some of them with more “classical” German cold cuts like headcheese, bierschinken or blood-tongue sausage which are all locally available in excellent quality.
Rinderroullade - Beef rouladen with bacon in a dark burgundy sauce with spaetzle and red cabbage
Very nice rouladen which were very tender but still had some “bite”. Excellent spaetzle and red cabbage which had the right amount of vinegar
Frikadellen - Pork meatballs in a mustard cream sauce with spaetzle and pickled carrot salad
Frikadellen in Germany are kind of like hamburger patties made from pork and/or beef often with some shredded milk-soaked rolls and different spices incorporated and seared to have a nice crust. What was served here had nothing to do with frikadellen but were Königsberger Kloepse which is a German version of Swedish meatballs with a bit more capers and other addition. It was a very good version of the kloepse with really good pickled salad which added a good counterpoint but had nothing to do with the frikadellen dish we were expecting.
Apfelstrudel - Apple strudel with vanilla ice cream
Classical version of apple strudel and a very nice end of the dinner