Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Spa Brauhaus – Ballston Spa, NY

Last weekend, my husband and I visited the Spa Brauhaus in Ballston Spa, NY (actually right over the Malta town line). We enjoy German food and have visited this restaurant periodically after discovering it a few years ago. It is in an out-of-the way place one would not happen upon by chance, but it is definitely worth seeking out. The restaurant itself is mainly a large, dark, low-ceilinged banquet room that clearly hasn’t been updated in many years, although this only serves to heighten the “old-world charm” of the establishment. There’s a significant bar section as you enter, next to which lies the divided dining room. Past the bar area and main dining room is the mysterious, always-locked Edelweiss Room. I like to imagine that if the double doors swung open they would reveal an elegant ballroom similar to that of Captain Von Trapp’s mansion where he and Maria dance the laendler (Sound of Music, for those who don’t know).

The menu features a variety of German dishes plus specials and some non-German cuisine. We primarily stick to the sauerbraten because it’s so good, as well as being the house specialty. Meals are served with bread, a salad, and a large tureen of soup. Sunday’s soup was cream of mushroom, although we have had vegetable barley on other occasions. The soup was quite good, if a bit thick. We always felt like we had to try to eat as much soup as possible because it seemed like such as shame for it to go to waste. We actually commented upon this to our waitress on this visit and were surprised to learn that any uneaten soup is returned to a larger tureen and served again. While this certainly makes sense, one must have a lot of faith in one’s fellow diners. Fortunately, the crowd is often comprised of senior citizens who presumably would not defile the soup in any way.

On this visit we had our customary sauerbraten. The meat was tender and buttery as usual, although it was presented in four smaller slices instead if the two large cuts we have usually had. Meals are accompanied by a choice of potato and vegetable. Although there seem to be many options, we have never deviated from spaetzel and red cabbage. Both are excellent and filling. On previous visits I have also tried some of the wursts and roulade of beef, but the sauerbraten is still tops. We seldom have room for dessert and this visit was no exception. In the past we have tried the black forest cake and apple strudel. Both were acceptable, but not exceptional.

If you’re in the Ballston Spa area and find yourself in the mood for hearty fare, the Spa Brauhaus is a good bet.