Restaurants on the Road
Where to dine on I-35
G'Towne Restaurant1201-D Church Street, in Georgetown
Wednesday-Saturday, 5-9pm; Sunday, 11am-3pm
I have always felt that the thrill of dining out is like an exotic adventure. Behind the doors of each new restaurant lies an untried world of flavors, waiting to be discovered. Small-town restaurants are particularly exciting because these places often seem so pristine. Out of the limelight and off the beaten track, they make no concessions to food fashion, eating takes place without ceremony, and chef-owners peep out of the kitchen to gauge your reaction at every mouthful. The G'towne restaurant in Georgetown is one of these restaurants.
From the outside, this little place may not look like much. Indeed, the building itself resembles a former gas station or auto repair shop. A hand-painted sign across the exterior announces the restaurant without much fanfare. The interior is only slightly more furnished, with two rooms of spartan tables surrounded by cafeteria-style chairs. But while the restaurant may not look like much, it nevertheless has a certain quaintness that is worth getting to know. It is the kind of place that seems like it was airlifted from a Fredericksburg roadside, haphazardly festooned with German kitsch -- clocks, posters, Mercedes Benz flags. German waltzes play quietly in the background, while retirees chatter away about the stock market, grandchildren, and scrapbooking. Curiously, though, while many of the restaurant's clientele are Georgetown locals and Sun City folks, the place also seems to have a loyal following among young techies -- a following cultivated during the days when chef-owner Uwe Wendel had a lunchtime wiener wagon, which he took around to Dell and other local businesses.
The G'towne menu features most of the dishes that American diners have come to expect at a German restaurant. Wendel has tailored his carte to suit not only his clients' tastes, but also their wallets. There are four different types of schnitzel that can be had with either the traditional veal or the slightly less expensive pork. The cutlets are gently breaded and then fried until just crisp. The meat inside is well-flavored and tender. The classic veal wiener schnitzel ($11.95) has always been my favorite for its simplicity. But a glance around the room told me that many restaurant regulars are attached to the Jaegerschnitzel (small, $9.95; large, $12.95), made with slightly canny looking mushrooms, or the Zigeunerschnitzel (small, $9.95; large, $12.95) made with red pepper and onions. The kitchen also prepares a briney smoked pork chop ($9.95), a veal bratwurst ($9.75), and a beef and pork bratwurst that Wendel makes himself. Plates spill over with sides of warm, peppery sauerkraut, crisp fried potatoes, or fluffy, nutmeg-scented spaetzle. Two sides come with most entrées, and diners can choose from these as well, sweet, red cabbage, sautéed vegetables, or a remarkable spinach spaetzle that is Wendel's own creation.
On weekends, Wendel rolls out his specials -- beef rouladen, tender pork roast smothered in gravy, sauerbraten, or crisp onion schnitzel. Wendel takes extra care in preparing these weekend treats, cooking roasts until they practically fall apart, pounding out each individual beef filet and rolling them together with pickles and bacon for the spectacular beef rouladen. These comestibles are worth driving for, and judging from the pace of things on several visits, others think so as well.
Weekday visitors generally order a la carte, though the restaurant frequently offers special three-course fixed price meals, especially if Wendel becomes inspired by something he finds at the market that day. One night he discovered a favorite weisswurst through one of his suppliers and served it as an appetizer. Another night, the kitchen prepared a chili, and offered it on a three-course dinner for $11.95. Although my first instinct was to poo-poo the presence of chili on a German restaurant menu, I gave in to curiosity and ordered it. Made from beautifully seasoned fresh ground beef, in a rich tomato stew topped with three types of roasted beans, it was magnificent, and I was delighted to discover that Wendel's creative surges surpass the Teutonic wellspring.
Desserts generally feature a flaky, homemade apple strudel ($2.95), redolent with tender apples, cinnamon, raisins, and buttery crust. There's a Black Forest cake ($2.95) of moist, chocolately cake, layered with whipped cream and candied cherries, and occasional dessert specials are also available -- if you have an extra belt notch. Portions at this informal Georgetown eatery are sized for professional eaters.
Aficionados of German cuisine should be forewarned that this restaurant doesn't have a liquor license, so those who require a malty German beer with their food should bring their own. The G'towne restaurant (left purposely ambiguous to stand for either Georgetown or Germantown) is one of those great out-of-the-way spots that makes for a refreshing weekend destination, or for those brave enough to fight the traffic, an adventurous weeknight outing.