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Dec 14, 2011 07:39 PM

Berkeley: Christmas at Gaumenkitzel - Stollen warm from the oven and German Nürnberger Market Glühwein

This was just a lucky accident. I stopped by Gaumenkitzel to try wine and the house-baked pretzel.

I asked about desserts and the server lighted up and said if I waited a half hour, the stollen had just finished rising and was about to be put in the oven. I waited.

It was wonderful ... still warm and yeasty with nice bits of orange peel and currants. It was dusted with powdered sugar and served with sweet butter.

The pretzel was great as well. There is poppy seed or sea salt. I had the poppyseed which was tasty and with enough chew that it didn't pull your teeth out. It was served with a dab of excellent sweet mustard and a pat of butter.

I decided to try the white sausage with it. I'm not sure if they make these themselves but ... nice ... lightly flavored and flecked with a green herb.

The warm wine was good. I'm not a fan in general of spiced wine. However, this wasn't obnoxiously spiced and had a juicy wine-soaked orange slice. I did love the hot apple cider though.

The table next to me had the pork chop with potatoes and kale. It looked so good. I'll probably try that next time.

Other Christmas items that I have not tried yet: December Cake (hazelnuts, spices, and real rum), Linzer Torte and Linzer cookies

Given the stollen isn't mentioned on the website, there may be other items over the next week or so.

2121 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley, CA 94702

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  1. This sounds lovely. I ended up ordering a stollen from Crixa; hadn't thought of this place. In a thread a while back some people mentioned small portions for the price. How were portion sizes (and prices) for you on this trip?

    Crixa Cakes
    2748 Adeline St, Berkeley, CA 94703

    5 Replies
    1. re: bgbc

      In general, it is difficult to judge. The pork chop dish was a huge amount of food. However, most portions are not huge but adequate. It is more of a European approach to food. The other thing to consider is that is all made from scratch and mostly organic. For me, I don't mind throwing a little more money at something that is high quality.

      There are two items on my receipt in German. So the two slices of stolen with butter was either $2.50 or $4.50. I'm guessing the hot cider was the lower cost item, but I'm not sure.

      To get a feel for the stollen portion size, you might look at the size of the butter dish or loose currant in the photo in comparison to the stollen slice.

      I'm pretty happy with this place. On my first visit I never would have imagined it would turn into a local favorite of mine that I look forward to stopping by.

      Not just for the holidays, but they make an apple cake every other day. Tommorrow is apple cake day so I'm thinking of stopping by and getting it with the hot chocolate laced with cardomom.

      1. re: bgbc

        I love Gaumenkitzel, and, if anything, found the (entree at least) portions almost too large. I really like the smoked pork chop with braised kale ($14.50 IIR). I've had that dish at lunch, and find it is enough for two people to share. I wish they could make it a little smaller and charge less. I think the non-entree portions are fine, definitely not small enough to make me take notice. The desserts seem in line with what other restaurants charge, and, like everything else are good quality.

        Thanks for the report, RWO, I'm looking forward to trying the pretzel.

        1. re: TerriL

          This all sounds so good, especially in this cold(ish) weather. Thanks to both of you for the additional detail!

          1. re: bgbc

            I was there for dinner the first time and have to say it was a mixed bag.

            A quality:
            *Gluehwein was fantastic - the way it should be - not overly spiced or sweet. Would go back to have more of that
            *Pretzel: perhaps the best in the Bay Area
            *Ambiance - the space is modern, very comfortable, perfect temperature despite the high ceiling; ambient lighting - really, really nice
            *Schwarzwaelderkirschtorte - outstanding - totally fresh, just the right kind of sweetness
            *they have great looking gluten free cakes I did not try yet

            Main Food - only so-so
            *special Christmas pork with spaetzle - my husband though it was perhaps average; nothing exciting; another friend thought it was good.
            *spaetzle with butternutsquah - my friend thought was good
            *veggie cake with fried potatoes - kind of boring; overall too much of a fried/butter/oil flavor all around - taste of veggie cake was bland - they forgot to give me the aioli to begin with and then it was so little it was gone in a few bites. I would not have that again.

            Service: so/so
            *I could see that they were making a huge effort to be timely - but in the haste they forgot stuff, and later tossed the check on the table when we had just started our order of another round of gluehwein and dessert. Not much time had gone by and she came, open the check to see if we had added money - very inappropriate timing. I think it was because people complained before they don't pay attention. Being in a German restaurant, I expected Gemuetlichkeit and that the check would be brought when we asked for it.

            ---I have not given up on the space yet but now I would not be overly excited to have dinner there again.

            1. re: evacarleton

              This is a restaurant that needs to pay attention to costs. I think they do pay attention to service complaints on sites like yelp. Looking at a lot of those reviews, I have been watching the restaurant respond to them.

              On my visit they had one server taking care of the lunch crowd. The restaurant was almost full and she was amazing handling it. But given a lot of what is going into the food and restuarant, I don't think service is ever going to be polished.

              I'll admit not everything is amazing, but when they hit it ... wow. I don't know enough about German food to be informed about authenticity so I may be liking stuff that isn't up to snuff with others.

              Not from your experience, but from reading yelp, this restaurant is always going to take a hit from people expecting heavy, humoungous, cheap German-American food that they are familiar with.

              Thanks for the feedback about the wine since that was my first taste of it and a thread on the General board doesn't seem enamoured with this drink, even when people had it in Germany.

              Those pretzels are good.

      2. i also was there last nite. And while I really want them to succeed, I also feel ambivalent -- in the sense some things were really great, while others missed the mark.

        Space: really really lovely. Modern but warm is a decidedly hard note to hit, and they did it extremely well. It's a place where I'd enjoy going with a large group and leisurely eating and drinking wine and beer.

        Service: completely fine. Indeed she was quite attentive to some of our differing dietary restrictions. (1 person, gluten free. another, low carb, etc)

        The Meal:
        -I really really enjoyed the sturgeon. It was a delightful surprise from the usual fish offering of salmon. Very nicely & lightly sesasoned. But it was served on a bland bed of diced carrots and white potatoes. Perhaps authentic. But not of interest to me.
        -The white sausage was lovely: light, moist, flavorful. and served with what seemed like a house-made mustard that was yummy.
        -The bread -- really yummy multigrain. And the butter also was flavorful.

        And the beer selection is quite nice -- I especially appreciated that they post the alcohol content for each.

        I will definitely go back. It should be especially pleasant at lunch -- with all the full length windows getting all the afternoon sun.

        3 Replies
        1. re: escargot3

          escargot3 I am a little confused?

          You said:

          Ambiance "really really lovely, they did it extremely well"
          Service "completely fine. Indeed she was quite attentive' to our special needs.
          Fish "delightful,Very nicely & lightly seasoned"
          Bread "really yummy"
          "sausage was lovely with great housemade mustard"
          "beer selection is quite nice"

          Yet you feel ambivalent because of some bland carrots and potatoes served as a bed to a "lightly seasoned fish" dish that you "really enjoyed"

          What kind of carrots and potatoes would you have preferred under a lightly seasoned sturgeon?

          I must admit, I do agree with rworange opinion on the Gaumenkitzel's vegetables:

          "Gaumenkitzel has the best vegetable dishes I’ve ever had in the Bay Area. Period."

          "It is not that Gaumenkitzel does anything special with veggies other than buy the most flavorful produce and manage to coax every bit of taste from it."

          Which is why I am asking....what was wrong with the potatoes and carrots?

          1. re: Mission

            Sounds like those are the same carrots and potatoes that are served with their schnitzel. There's nothing particularly wrong with them, but if you are not a person who likes steamed or boiled carrots and potatoes, you're just not going to like them. It's a very wholesome and, yes, I would say "bland" preparation. And I say this as someone who generally likes the food at Gaumenkitzel.

            Incidentally, the schnitzel and eggs that they serve for brunch comes with some different (slightly browned) potatoes and a lightly dressed carrot salad -- and both of those are much more to my liking.

            With respect to the OP, I feel incredibly bummed because I bought one of those stollen today ($6.50 for a whole cake/loaf) and brought it to a Christmas party, but ended up having to leave the party before dessert. So I didn't get to try it yet. It looked GREAT. FYI, they were only selling the whole cakes today and weren't selling by the slice.

            1. re: Mission

              Yo Mission,

              The only thing wrong with the potatoes & carrots is that I don't care for 'em. They seemed too bland for my palette. As I said in my post, it's just a personal preference thing.

          2. This was probably my last restaurant meal of the year snd a nice end.

            I finally had that smoked pork chop with kale that was even better than it looked ... a heap of buttery, peppery kale on a delicately smoked chop with diced cooked potatoes and a side of spicy mustard.

            For the people who feel the veggies are underseasoned, the plain boiled potatoes would not be for you. However, this was a dish where all the elements worked to make the whole.After a bit of hot mustard on the pork, the potatoes toned down and balanced the taste.

            i had the herbal tea called Sevan (oregano, St John's wort,lemon balm, chamomile, hawthorn

            berry, linden fruit and Armenian basil)

            This was a lovely delicately herby drink that was perfect for me today when i was still hostage to a major cold. I figure all those herbs had to have something healthy in there.

            The egg nog dessert with real bourbon was a lovely thing. Since everything is made from scratch, the eggnong was probably house-made. it reminded me of Clover organic eggnog with its light, fresh flavor. in this case, the bourbon was the spice, delicately lacing the pudding without taking it over.

            I brought home a piece of the Linzer torte which is the best I've ever had with a crumbly, nutty crust and a flavorful dab of berry jam.

            Also bought home a bottle of the orange ginger bionade soda. Not sure if I like this. It isn't strongly flavored or my cold has taken over. Lots of blah, blah, blah about this stuff on the bionade website


            I have yet to be there when there is applecake. The server said today it was made with poppyseeds. I kind of blew it off but as I was walking out the poppyseed cake was placed in the display case. It looked fabulous ... dang. If I wasn't feeling so under the weather I would have bought a slice.

            There were about a dozen whole stollens on the shelf near the house-made jems.

            Anyway, i enjoyed my visit and this is my favorite restaurant this year.