Wiener schnitzel, rahm schnitzel, Juken schnitzel, chicken schnitzel, kielbasa and Hungarian goulash. Throw in some plebeian dishes such as chicken breast Hawaiian and pot roast, garnish with red cabbage and noodles, and you have a good basic German menu.
That's Petra's Schnitzel Haus.
The wiener schnitzel platter consists of about four nice-size pieces of breaded veal cutlet with a slightly pickled flavor. They're so tender you can cut them with just a bit more than a glance. So good you simply don't want to swallow. Complement this with red cabbage cooked with whole cloves, raisins and a touch of sugar, plus a helping of basic noodles. The results are two pleasing points of reference for your palate to work from.
The Hungarian goulash platter is made up half of noodles mixed with firm cubes of beef in spicy brown gravy, and half of vegetable. The red cabbage is simply too good to miss. I don't know what most Hungarians would think of this adaptation of their national dish, but it tasted very good to me.
Entrees cost from $10 to $20. At times, Petra has put together a Wednesday night special menu for locals with all entrees priced at $10.99. The menu usually has at least four specialties, so it is hard to go wrong.
Be forewarned, however: At Petra's place, everything is a la carte. A salad is at least $3.50, and several appetizers that look tasty are priced at $5 or more. Evidently you need to bring your own bread.
At one time it was not possible to get water to drink with your meal at this establishment unless you purchased a bottle of designer water. Detesting that policy, I refused to review the Schnitzel Haus. Things have changed. Now you can obtain a glass of water upon request. Other drinks appear to run $3 to $4.
The ambiance is a mix of cozy and camp, with half a dozen tables for four and a couple more for two. Seating is in an open room and on a narrow deck overlooking the marina outside. At night, it's a tranquil scene, with a couple of fans inside to improve the airflow.
Schnitzel Haus was a popular stop on the Lagoon shuttle out of the Compass Point Marina that made continuous rounds in the evening last year, serving half a dozen dining and drinking establishments with docking facilities, allowing passengers so inclined to have their cocktails, main course and dessert at different stops. Unfortunately, the service is no longer in operation.
Last year, Schnitzel Haus was a participant in the Rotary East dine-out coupon book program, which this reviewer highly recommends. The 2001 coupon book will be out in mid-April, good into December, and will sell for $20 (up from $15 in previous years, but still well worth it). The books are filled with coupons good for free or discounted second entrées, drinks or desserts at dozens of St. Thomas and St. John restaurants, and proceeds from their sale benefit Rotary East educational programs, including University of the Virgin Islands scholarships. As soon as the new books are off the presses, they will be available from any Rotary East member.
Bottom line on dining at Schnitzel Haus: It's a worthwhile experience – for the cozy atmosphere, good basic drinks and excellent German food. While the prices are somewhat high for this type of establishment and the menu is strictly a la carte, the food quality is very good.
The restaurant restrooms are spacious, clean and well appointed. The service staff is well trained, and there is adequate monitored parking. With the Wednesday specials, this is about as good as it gets.
Ambience: 4 stars
Food: 4 stars
Service: 4 stars
Value: 3 stars
Located at Trawlers in Paradise, Route 32 between La Vida and Fish Hawk Marinas
340-775-9896 (evenings), 776-7198 (days)
Dinner Monday-Friday, 6-9 p.m.
'50s-'60s music (solo guitar and vocals) Mondays 7-9 p.m.
Editor's note: The Tottering Taster is a senior citizen dedicated to enjoying good food who dines in local establishments to bring Source readers unsolicited assessments biased in favor of an ultimate eating-out experience. The individual uses a pseudonym so restaurant personnel will not be able to identify the reviewer and try to influence the review.