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Review of Madison eatery The Bavarian Chef
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BY NANCY DEARING ROSSBACHER
FOR THE FREE LANCE-STAR
She: Call your friends--the ones who truly appreciate spectacular food. Make reservations. Gas up the car. On the trek (for our Eats column is going on the road this week), prepare for self-indulgent delight, the kind in which a forkful of food makes you close your eyes and whisper, "Oh, my."
You're headed to the mini burg of Rochelle, south of Madison--where the stained-glass-windowed, peaked-roof Bavarian Chef sits atop what resembles a mini Alp.
He: The Bavarian Chef, suavely run by second-generation owner Jerome Thalwitz, seems to have created a dining category all its own: down-home continental. Upscale but relaxed, it's Gemütlichkeit with manners, where your order is met with "excellent choice" and your ice-water glass is refilled every three minutes.
Not that it's all about ice water. A half-dozen beers are on tap (the Weihenstephan is a standout), and there is a beautifully stocked, sit-and-chat bar near the entranceway.
She: On a recent visit, the handsomely plated appetizers included a melt-away tower of Portobello mushroom, tomato, backfin crab and Muenster ($9.95), and an outstanding creamy bell-pepper soup ($9.95) that--while authoritative--evaporated on the tongue like a summer memory.
He: The rich and dusky cream of wild mushroom soup ($9.95), topped with dollops of sour cream, will make you hesitate before ordering it anywhere else.
The mandel schnitzel entree ($22.95) was--as all portions are here--ample, with two cut-with-a-fork pork tenderloins crusted with almonds and ramped up with a strawberry-gin sauce.
She: Karlsbadener sahnegoulasch ($19.95) was chunks of perfectly prepared veal melded with mushroom, onion and tomato, creating what I believe is the definition of stew in heaven.
Swordfish ($29.95), a special that evening (for there are always specials), was firm yet flaky, crested with large, tender shrimp, and surrounded by a lively but not overpowering Dijon-dill sauce.
He: But wait. There's more--for there always is at The Bavarian Chef. Along with entrees come a selection of eight sides served family-style. These include ribbony spaetzle, herbed-up mashed potatoes, glazed carrots and onions, and sweet-sour red cabbage.