Andrea’s View: This food adventure to The Rathskeller on Mass Ave can be summed up by a quote by one of my favorite philosophers. I apologize in advance to Mike Tyson if I am not quoting him exactly, but here it goes. “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.” Dave and I ended up at Mass Ave on a Saturday afternoon with the intention of going to another restaurant. We had found a parking space and I painstakingly found enough coins to feed the parking meter for an hour and a half. When Dave and I arrived at this other restaurant, it was locked with a note on the door stating that they were temporarily closed due to a pipe problem. Dave and I gave each other a confused look for a minute or two, then he said, “We already paid the meter, we are doing a food adventure.” After sizing up the other restaurants around us, we strolled over to The Rathskeller. I have to admit that I was not too excited about eating at The Rathskeller as I did not think it was “ethnic” enough. My only other experience with this restaurant was its biergarten with ginormous pails of beer and oversized pretzels. But, life punched us in the face so, what are you going to do? We were seated in a beautiful and ornate dining room and were handed two menus the size of books. One was the food menu and the other was the beer menu. I don’t know much about German beer so I picked the one with the description “light and refreshing”. It happened to be Erdinger Hefe Weissbier, a wheat beer. Anyway, our server brought us out one of the oversized pretzels and some mustard for us to munch on while looking through the food menu. She did warn us that the mustard was really spicy. Dave tore off a piece of the pretzel and dipped it in the mustard. I did the same, but I dunked the pretzel in the mustard. I am not afraid of spicy, I eat spicy all the time. As I am putting this bite of pretzel and mustard up to my face Dave tells me, “Be carefull, that’s spicy.” Yeah Dave, okay. I proceed with eating. Just as I start chewing my morsel of pretzel with mustard, the server comes back to get our orders. She says, “Ladies first.” I start to open my mouth when an explosion occurs in my nose and travels up my brain and down into my lungs. I gasp, “Dave, you order first.” Dave then replies, “I told you so.” Tears come pouring out of my eyes and finally I have recovered enough from my internal punch in the nose to order the kassler ripchen. I even had the wherewithal to replace the sauerkraut with spaetzle noodles. The server then walked away. I then tore off another piece of pretzel, and dunked it in the mustard. I pop it in my mouth and I again somehow managed to punch myself in the nose from the inside yet another time. Dave then exclaims, “Andrea, what are you doing?!” I have no clue. Anyway, my entrée arrives and saves me from subsequent mustard punches. The kassler ripchen is a pork chop with an apple and raison sauce. The sauce was very sweet and flavorful, reminding me of my dish at Saffron Cafe. It came with the afore-mentioned spaetzle noodles and german potato salad. The noodles are very thick and doughy, smothered in beef sauce. And once again, I remembered that I don’t like German potato salad. I suppose I have to endure several punches before I come up with a new plan.
Dave’s View: I don’t know if people come across decisions in their life that seem predetermined. Have you ever been in a situation and thought, “ Why am I here?”…Only to find out it’s not about you. You were put in this situation because somebody was in pain and needed help. I believe Andrea and I were put in this very situation in more ways than one. It was destiny. A food adventure destiny.
Round One: After feeding the parking meter, we walked up to our initial food adventure restaurant only to find out it was temporarily closed due to pipe problems.
So now what do you want to do Andrea? Okay, let’s argue for five minutes on the sidewalk about where we want to eat. Let’s throw curse words at each other and hear Andrea’s voice gets louder and louder and I lay on the sidewalk until she rubs my belly into submission. That really didn’t happen. It’s a nice metaphor though. After many expletives, we decided to go to the German restaurant, The Rathskeller.
Round Two: We walk into the Rathskeller and sit down in one of the most authentic German surroundings you can find in this city. The walls are adorned with mugs, German sayings, odd-looking devil-type figures, moose heads, and the typical German style, brown timbers on white background on the ceiling. Our waitress comes to our table and hands us menus and a basket of a huge soft pretzel with dipping sauce. She exclaims, “Watch it, it’s spicy.” In the past, if a server tells you something is spicy, take my word of advice, BELIEVE THEM! They have no reason to lie to you. I take a piece of the pretzel and dip it in the sauce. I mean, I place it down in the cup, twist it and bring up a huge glob of sauce on my pretzel and proceed to eat it. Forewarning, the sauce is extremely spicy. The sauce has a high concentration of horse-radish in it. This sauce will send a nerve signal to your nose and you will not be able to speak. If you have summer allergies, this is the place to go. Your nasal passages will be instantly cleaned out!
I warned Andrea before she took a bite. I really didn’t want to because I know Andrea. She doesn’t heed warnings. She takes a bite, the waitress walks up, “What would you like?”
Andrea’s response: “Bla, pla, do, blat,…” Andrea is now experiencing, the nasal drain. “Dave,” she coughs, “you order!” The moral of this round: Listen to Dave.
Round Three: I ordered the Sauerbraten. It is roast beef topped with brown gravy. It comes with two sides, sauerkraut and German potato salad. I am not a fan(sorry all Germans) of sauerkraut and German potato salad. I switched my sides for red beans and rice and a baked potato. Again, I’m sorry to all the German people out there. My stomach that day couldn’t handle it.
The roast beef was utterly tender. The brown gravy is sweet so when you mix it with the roast beef, it is an entrée that is one of a kind. Usually brown gravy is earthy and contains a lot of salt. This gravy is the total opposite. The ginger and the currant kick it up a notch and make this dish a pleasure to eat. For the sides, the baked potato is a baked potato. Nothing special, but done well though. The red beans and rice on the other hand, was fantastic. I have had red beans and rice in other restaurants and this side is by far the best red beans and rice I’ve tasted in Indianapolis. Red beans and rice in a German restaurant? Who would have thought it! It is the perfect blend of spice, rice, and beans. Get an extra side and try it, you won’t be disappointed.
Round Four: This is the destiny round. This is the round where I think I know why we were sent to this restaurant. On July 12th, the Biergarten inside the Rathskeller will be shut down due a financial situation between The Rathskeller and the Athenaeum Foundation which owns the building. You can go on Facebook and sign a petition to keep the Biergarten open. On this petition, you will see only one side of the story. The other side, The Athenaeum Foundation position, is difficult to find. All in all, the situation revolves around money.
I’ve read the petition on-line by Dan McMichael , the owner of The Rathskeller. You’ll find out he worked hard to established The Rathskeller, but he seems to forget what was there before him. See this picture:
The Rathskeller opened in 1995. The Athenaeum has been there since 1894. I know Mr. McMichael has worked hard, but he has a symbiotic relationship with the Athenaeum. Both sides need to stand back and come to an agreement. Usually it’s a simple solution. Because, as Andrea referred to Mike Tyson, “Everyone has a plan, until they get punched in the face.” All I can say to Dan McMichael is, take the punch in the face and pay the money. It happens to everybody at least once in their lifetime.
To the Athenaeum Foundation: Read your mission statement.
“The Athenaeum preserves and enhances its historic German-American landmark to advance the Sound Mind in a Sound Body values of its founders through programming that lifts spirits and engages in diverse communities.” Take it to heart.
Both sides need to ask themselves: Is it for the money or is it for the community? Greed on both sides of the aisle will kill you both.
Food: 8.5 Service: 9 Ambiance: 9.25 Total: 26.75 out of 30
$40-$50 with adult beverages
UPDATE: The disagreement between The Rathskeller and the Athenaeum Foundation has been resolved. Polka Boy will continue to play at the Biergarten!
Become a member of Athenaeum Foundation: http://www.athenaeumfoundation.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=41&Itemid=42