Gil's Thrilling (And Filling) Blog

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The Grill – Albuquerque, New Mexico

The Grill on Menaul serves one of the best burgers in Albuquerque

I’m not telling you, ‘Never eat a hamburger.’ Just eat the good ones with real beef, you know,
like the ones from that mom-and-pop diner down the street, …
And it’s so good that when you take a bite out of that burger,
you just know somewhere in the world a vegan is crying
.”
Homer Simpson

America’s favorite everyman philosopher may have had The Grill in mind when uttering that pithy pearl.  What, after all, is a burger if not the celebration of meat, a pulchritudinous beef patty sandwiched between glorious golden orbs and festooned with ingredients intended to bring out flavor combinations that dance on your taste buds?  Made properly–personalized for taste to your exacting degree of doneness and with your  unique choice of ingredients–a burger can elicit tears of rapturous joy among burgerphiles.

Though the corporate  chains offer convenience and consistency, few would argue that their copycat burgers could elicit raw delirium when bitten into.  Some, like me, would argue that they’re not even made with real meat, USDA definitions for meat be damned.  No, my friends, it’s solely the bounteous burgers at your local mom-and-pop diners down the street that elicit the carnal cravings and libidinous lust that make you want to rush over to visit your preferred profferer of  meaty happiness with great regularity.

The Grill on a busy Wednesday lunch hour

For Duke City diners one of the best the mom-and-pop diners down the street has a burger which just might elicit swoons of joy as it quells the most rapacious of appetites.  It’s a burger that had Rudy Paul Vigil waxing poetic when he told me about it.  An advocate of homemade tastes, Rudy is the guy who introduced me to Lumpy’s Burgers shortly after it opened so he’s got plenty of down-the-street burger cred with me.  In describing The Grill, he expounded about a unique wood-firing contraption that imbues each burger with enchantment.

The Grill is the brainchild of veteran restaurateur Phillip Chavez, a man who knows and likes burgers as much as he likes bussing, or at least that’s the impression you might get in reading the menu’s claim of “food so good, you’ll wanna kiss the cook!”  Before opening The Grill, Chavez operated grill-oriented family restaurants in Gallup as well as Shiprock and Farmington.

Phil Chavez tends to his unique mesquite-fired grill (Photo courtesy of Bill “Roastmaster” Resnik)

The Grill launched initially on the western fringes of the Duke City just east of 98th Street and was then called “Grandpa’s Grill.”  From the restaurants east-facing windows you were treated to some of the very best views of the Sandia Mountains and downtown Albuquerque.  At night, the panoramic view of the city lights were absolutely inspirational. 

In July, 2011, Grandpa’s Grill moved to Menaul (next door to Jennifer James 101) and rechristened itself “The Grill.”  Interior walls are festooned with period pieces–mostly kitchen related bricabrac, much of it donated by patrons of the popular restaurant. Old-fashioned coffee makers, blenders and other appliances make for interesting reminiscences among us seasoned diners and for strange curiosities among the Y-generation crowd.

Salsa and chips are on the house at The Grill (Photo courtesy of Bill “Roastmaster” Resnik)

The most interesting period piece, however, is the restaurant’s signature grill. White hot and throbbing red embers of mesquite coals lay on a steel tray atop of which sits a metal grated grill which Chavez raises and descends via a hand-crank. He’s mastered the art of temperature control to prepare your burgers or steaks to the level of doneness you specify.

An old-fashioned burger fixings bar, complete with sneeze guard, hosts sliced tomatoes, pickles, mustard, ketchup, lettuce and onions which means you truly can have your burger your way.  A deep metal serving tray holds salsa which you can ladle onto plastic ramekins.  Another holds crisp, homemade (but excessively salty) chips, both free with each order.

An eight-ounce Papa Burger with green chile and Cheddar cheese

The salsa is exceptional–as in so good it should be bottled good. It’s so good that properly pureed, it would make an excellent bloody Mary mix. It’s so good, it would make the the key component of a great gazpacho. It’s so good, you’ll eschew ketchup and dunk your fries in it. It’s so good, you’ll finish two or three trays of chips before your order is up. Seriously, this is good salsa. Its components are rather typical–tomatoes, onions, jalapenos, garlic, salt–but Chavez mixes each batch up in perfect proportions. The salsa is pleasantly piquant, not so incendiary you won’t be able to taste anything else.  It deserves better (less salty) chips.

You will want to taste the burgers!  Prolific eaters will opt for the Grandpa Burger, a whopping sixteen-ounces, but Rudy Vigil assured me the eight-ounce Papa Burger will be more than enough for most ordinary eaters.  A six-ounce Mama Burger and a four-ounce Little Rascal Burger are also available.  The beef patties are hand-formed and thick.  You can top them with green chile and your choice of Cheddar, American or Swiss cheese.  The buns are lightly toasted.  All burgers are available in combination with a drink and Fries.

The Papa Burger with Fries

The menu also includes two steaks–a sixteen-ounce Ribeye and a ten-ounce New York cut–both served with your choice of fries or beans and tortilla. Also available are a chicken breast platter, a chicken sandwich, a Southwest chicken sandwich (with green chile and cheese wrapped in a tortilla) and chicken strips with fries. Hot dogs, in either jumbo or regular sizes, with or without chile and cheese, can also be ordered. Deep-fried sides include French fries, fried zucchini, fried mushrooms and onion rings.

The Papa Burger with green chile is terrific, a true compliment to the grill master and his deft manipulation of temperature!  The beef patty is imbued with the kiss of mesquite heat, but not so much that the usually acerbic grilling wood imparts its characteristic bitter aftertaste.   The green chile is a bit on the mild side, but the other ingredients from the fixings bar are all fresh and delicious.  Fries aren’t much to write home about, but they’re much improved when you dip them into the salsa instead of ketchup.

Chile cheese dog with fries (Photo courtesy of Bill “Roastmaster” Resnik)

A value-priced 16-ounce Ribeye steak prepared at medium is too good to pass up. Ribeye tends to be a well-marbled and tender cut of beef that is well-suited to dry-heat preparation style. That means The Grill’s unique mesquite grill brings out the optimal flavor profile in this steak. Not quite fork-tender, the Ribeye cuts easily, juices flowing not quite copiously but enough. The only seasoning discernible is salt and pepper, but sometimes that can be enough. It is in this case. Value-priced means sixteen-ounces of steak for under a dollar an ounce, a good deal by any standard.

The steak is accompanied by your choice of French fries or beans and a tortilla.  At first glance, the beans look inviting, a hearty portion topped with shredded cheese, but as they approached our table, the malodorous emanation of cumin wafted toward us.  As usual, I whined vociferously, urging our attentive waitress and Phil Chavez himself to take the beans and dispose of them at a nuclear waste dump site.  Phil indicated 99-percent of his customers appreciate the beans, some even asking for the recipe…but I’m not crazy; everyone else is.

A sixteen-ounce Ribeye Steak with a side of beans

The chile cheese dog is only so-so. The wiener is just slightly thicker than a human thumb, not an oversized meat-tube that dominates the flavor profile. Alas, the chile had a canned taste which includes enough cumin to be noticeable, but not so much that it kills the taste. Hot dogs are also served with French fries.

On the counter gracing your visage as you walk in is a domed cake platter holding the delicious cake of the day.  Fortune was with us during my second visit because the cake under glass on that day was a gorgeous red velvet cake. Red velvet cakes have been popular since the 1920s, experiencing a resurgence in the 1990s, but it’s never really gone out of style.  Essentially not much more than a chocolate cake with a dark red-brown color and layered with a creamy white icing, it is beautiful to look at and generally delicious to consume.  This decadent dessert isn’t prepared in-house, but you will want to take a piece home with you.

Red Velvet Cake

The Grill is an anachronism–a throw-back to the 1960s with prompt, courteous, unobtrusive service and a genuine spirit of welcome from the owner.  Ask Phillip Chavez for a tour of the kitchen and he’ll gladly show off his unique grill, the contraption which makes some of the very tastiest burgers in Albuquerque.  Somewhere on old Route 66, a vegan is crying.  That’s how good these burgers are!

The Grill
4615 Menaul Blvd, N.E.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
(505) 872-9772
Facebook Page
LATEST VISIT: 25 February 2015
1st VISIT:  17 August 2010
# OF VISITS: 3
RATING: 20
COST: $$
BEST BET: Papa Burger with Fries, Chile Cheese Dog, Salsa and Chips, Ribeye Steak, Onion Rings, Red Velvet Cake

Grandpa's Grill on Route 66 on Urbanspoon

Kasbah Mediterranean – Albuquerque, New Mexico

Marrakech  Kasbah for the best in Moroccan and Greek cuisine

Sweeping cobwebs from the edges of my mind
Had to get away to see what we could find
Hope the days that lie ahead
Bring us back to where they’ve led
Listen up to what’s been said to you

Would you know we’re riding on the Marrakech Express
Would you know we’re riding on the Marrakech Express
All on board that train
- Crosby, Stills & Nash

For decades, Hollywood has portrayed the ancient Moroccan city of Marrakech as a venue in which mystery and intrigue can be found along every narrow street and behind every sharp turn, a place of fantasy where fire-eaters, sword-swallowers and snake charmers perform–a city with a dizzying array of food stalls, richly adorned palaces and alleyways crowded traditional shops in which intricately woven tapestries and brass works dazzle the eyes.

Alfred Hitchcock certainly exploited those characteristics in his suspenseful 1956 thriller The Man Who Knew Too Much where middle class Americans played by Jimmy Stewart and Doris Day vacationing in Marrakech find themselves embroiled in a nefarious plot to assassinate an ambassador after their son is kidnapped.  The movie has me on the edge of my seat every time I watch it, as much for the suspense which builds to a surprising climax as for the unique way in which the 1956 Best Song Oscar Que Sera Sera plays a role in the plot’s resolution.

The colorful interior at The Kasbah

Although they couldn’t catch the Marrakech Express of Crosby, Stills & Nash fame, from 1998 through the millennium year, Duke City diners managed to make their way to Marrakech in droves–not to the Moroccan desert, but to Central Avenue where Tunisian owner and chef Ridha Bouajila created an alluring menu of North African and Greek cuisine favorites at his fabulous restaurant, appropriately named Marrakech.  To aficionados of the uniquely seasoned, vibrant melding of heretofore unavailable flavor combinations, the closure of this inimitable restaurant warranted a flag flying at half mast.

Bouajila returned to the Albuquerque dining scene in 2004 when he launched the Mediterranean Cafe–essentially Marrakech reborn.  The Mediterranean Cafe on San Mateo (at the site which also housed Quesada’s) operated under Boajila for two years before he sold it to his business partner.  Within a year, the restaurant folded and once again savvy Albuquerque diners were left in mourning for the Moroccan cuisine with which they had fallen in love.

Delicious Dolmas: surprisingly flavorful though not homemade

Delicious Dolmas: surprisingly flavorful though not homemade

On December 11th, 2009, the discerning Duke City diners captivated by Moroccan cuisine had a reason to celebrate again when Bouajila launched his second instantiation of Marrakech.  It was situated in the shopping center which for years was the site of Robb’s Ribbs.  Ensconced in the corner shop between an old-time barber shop and an Asian restaurant, its tiny storefront belied the nearly 3,000 square foot space, by far the largest restaurant Bouajila has operated.  

In 2011, Marrakech shuttered its doors once again but reopened in 2012 with a new name.  Now christened  Kasbah Mediterranean, by any other name the captivating aromas emanate from the kitchen and waft over you like a delicious, enveloping breeze.  Those aromas perfume the air with incomparably rich dishes melding sweet and savory on the same plate–dishes which incorporate dried fruit such as dried plums and apricots; aromatic spices like cinnamon, paprika and dried ginger; and ingredients which make seasoned chefs swoon such as preserved lemon, rose water and saffron.  The ingredient and flavor combinations are inspired and bold, the results memorable.

Hummus with Pita

Kasbah Mediterranean is situated on eastern fringes of Nob Hill in the edifice which previously housed Guicho’s Authentic Mexican Food Restaurant.  Gone are the colorful murals depicting beautiful maidens and Aztec warriors.  In their place are intricately woven tapestries and their multi-ihued mosaic patterns; sheer, whisper thin silken fabric coverings and bright colored walls on which artful accouterments are hung. The tasteful color array is warm and inviting.

Tables are in personal space proximity so you can’t help but gawk in admiration as large plates of stunning food arrangements are delivered to other patrons. No matter what the restaurant has been named over the years, our experience has always been a pleasant interaction with a friendly and accommodating wait staff which delights in their guests’ enjoyment of  the food.  They beam radiantly with pride with each (and there were many) compliment we paid and when they can’t answer a question, they stepped into the kitchen and retrieve an answer from the chef. That’s a sign of professionalism.

Baba Ganouch and pita

Baba Ganouch and pita

Just as he did at his previous Albuquerque restaurant stops, Bouajila also made it a point to come out of the kitchen to welcome diners and ensure a pleasant dining experience.  Now, pleasant is probably the most understated adjective any diner will use after a meal at Kasbah Mediterranean. Be daring in your ordering (translation: go for the Moroccan entrees, not the familiar Greek standards) and you’re assured a dining experience in which your taste buds are titillated, your imagination is unencumbered and your soul is satisfied.

That’s not to say the Greek items aren’t fabulous.  They’re just so familiar–you can have gyros, dolmas, hummus, Greek salads and Spanakopita at several Greek restaurants throughout the city.  Do what Marco Polo would have done and take a different culinary route through a Moroccan menu that might seem strange and different, but which offers an adventure you won’t soon forget.

King's Bastilla

King’s Bastilla, a surprisingly delicious entree for lunch, dinner….or dessert?

Aside from the aforementioned Greek dolmas, hummus and Spanakopita, the appetizer section of the menu includes a soup du jour, baba ganouch (Arabic), falafel (Arabic) and brika (Tunisian).  Brika, a Tunisian turnover, is an excellent start to your dining adventure, a delicate pastry filled with seasoned potato mousse, fresh parsley, herbs and egg then fried to perfection. It’s a starter with which we were quite familiar from visits to the original Marrakech and the Mediterranean Cafe and one we’ll have during future visits.

23 January 2010: In discussing the appetizers with a buoyant server, she raved about the restaurant’s dolmas, indicating most guests have praised them highly.  It’s easy to see why.  Served cold and nearly saturated in olive oil, the five grape leaves stuffed with seasoned rice are arranged in a star-shaped pattern surrounding a bowl of cucumber sauce.  They are not made in-house, but they’re a definite keeper.  At first bite, you’ll experience the sensation of what can only be described as effervescence, as if biting into a fizzy lemon-lime drink.  That, we discerned, is courtesy of the dynamic mingling of dill and mint, a sensation heightened by dipping the dolmas into the mint and yogurt enhanced cucumber sauce.  These are the best non-homemade dolmas we’ve had in Albuquerque.

Tagine of Chicken Mruzia

Tagine of Chicken Mruzia

23 January 2010: Given a choice of hummus or baba ganouch (usually spelled baba ghanouj), we always seem to prefer the latter in part because the name just rolls off your tongue so exotically, but mostly because it offers more textures and flavor than hummus.  An Arab dish made of mashed eggplant mixed with various seasonings, it’s also not quite as ubiquitous in the Duke City as is hummus.  The version at Marrakech is lighter, sweeter and less garlicky than others we’ve had.  Served with six wedges of pita bread, it is a very good baba ganouch.  24 February 2015:  The hummus is no slouch in the deliciousness department.  What makes it especially good is an optimal use (not too much, not too little) of garlic.

The entrees section of the menu includes a Mediterranean plate (Greek salad, dolmas and Spanakopita served with pita bread), a Mezza Plate (Greek salad, hummus and baba ganouch served with pita bread), a Falafel Plate, a Tunisian plate (brika served with rice or house salad), a Vegetarian Delight (Spanakopita, dolmas and pita bread), a Gyros plate and Moussaka.  It’s an inviting panoply of entrees, but they’re mostly Greek and at the risk of over-emphasizing this point, the Moroccan dishes offer more flavor.

Moroccan Lemon Chicken

The Moroccan dishes are appropriately listed in the “Specialties” section of the menu, but that title could be reduced by a few letters.  Call it “Special” and leave it at that because this section of the menu is indeed special.  The specialty of specialties, according to the menu cover, is the couscous.  Couscous is a North African staple and is the main ingredient in many dishes in the way rice is the main ingredient in so many Asian dishes.  In shape, color and texture, it even resembles rice.  It’s made from small grains of semolina with vegetables and sometimes meat.  Marrakech offers several couscous dishes.

23 January 2010: As an essayist of restaurant visits, it’s not very often I’m surprised by something I’ve never tried before.  The last time, in fact, I remember being surprised was at Pars Diner with a dish called Fesenjoon, a stew made from sauteed walnuts in pomegranate sauce.  Marrakech completely took me aback with an entree called King’s Bastilla. Though the word Bastilla, a Spanish word for “hem” is completely lost on me, the exotic dish blew me away.  It’s called “King’s Bastilla” because it’s served to esteemed guests at special occasions such as weddings. It is indeed a special dish worthy of royalty.

Traditionally, bastilla is made with pigeon, but Marrakech uses chicken instead.  A crisp, whisper-thin pastry shell made from Moroccan warqua or phyllo dough encloses an amalgam of moist chicken, ground almonds, rose water and spices.  The shell is sprinkled liberally with powdered sugar and cinnamon.  Quite honestly, it looks like a dessert and is in fact rather sweet, but definitely not cloying.  Its sweetness is acquired primarily from the delicate rose water and ameliorated by the powdered sugar.  It’s one of the most unique and delicious dishes I’ve had in the Duke City and frankly, I can’t wait to have it again.

23 January 2010: At most Moroccan restaurants, the most popular dishes tend to be Tagines, named for the special pot in which they’re prepared.  Tagines are slow-cooked stews braised at slow temperatures which result in aromatic vegetables, sauces and tender meats (generally lamb or chicken).  The Tagine of Chicken Mruzia, a marinated chicken breast cooked with dried plums, dried apricots, almonds and honey, topped with sesame seeds and served with rice, is a wonderful entree with a fine balance of sweet and savory flavors complemented by the tanginess of the reconstituted fruits.

24 February 2015:If there’s one flavor combination that’s often overlooked and certainly underused, it’s that of tart, salty and zesty (or acidic).  The notion of a dish possessing these properties brings an automatic lip-pursing reaction to many diners.  What makes these three flavor combinations work at the Kasbah Mediterranean is that they’re featured in perfect proportion to one another as they’re showcased in Moroccan Lemon Chicken.  The bitterly salty preserved lemons and briny, salty green olives are tempered by the delicate, beautifully seasoned chicken and its exotic spice profile.  This beautifully plated dish also includes two strips of fluffy rice which also serves as an excellent foil for the acidic-saltiness of a dish that won’t so much purse your lips as make your mouth water.

The Marrakech Express should head straight to 4801 Central Avenue for an exotic dining experience Duke City diners will want to repeat time and again.

Kasbah Mediterranean
4801 Central Avenue, N.E.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
505 881-4451
LATEST VISIT: 24 February 2015
1st VISIT: 23 January 2010
# OF VISITS: 2
RATING: 22
COST: $$ – $$$
BEST BET: Dolmas, Baba Ganouch, Tagine of Chicken Mruzia, King’s Bastilla, Hummus with Pita, Moroccan Lemon Chicken

Marrakech Kasbah Mediterranean Cuisine on Urbanspoon

Heimat House and Beer Garden – Albuquerque, New Mexico

Heimat House and Beer Garden, Serving European Food in the Northeast Heights

“We’re not normal people. We’re the Griswolds.”   Laughs abound in National Lampoon’s European Vacation, the 1985 movie which follows the antics of well-meaning blunderer Clark W. Griswold and his equally inept family.   In a television game show called “Pig In a Polk,” the Griswold family accidentally wins a trip to Europe where they leave a trail of destruction everywhere they go (who can forget when Clark knocked down Stonehenge by accidentally backing into it with a rented car?).

The family foray into Germany was no less fraught with hapless humor. In a German village, the Griswolds burst in on “Fritz and Helga”, a bewildered elderly couple whom they mistakenly believe are long-lost relatives.  Though language barrier issues prevent any mutual dialogue, the Griswolds never quite seem to grasp that all conversations are one-sided and avail themselves of all the hospitality–including large bowls of sausage and sauerkraut with plenty of German rye bread–befitting family ties.

The interior of Heimat House

Like Clark W. Griswold (who’s intensely proud, but blissfully ignorant of his Germanic heritage), many New Mexicans haven’t cut through the sauerkraut and remain unaware of the diversity and deliciousness of German cuisine.  Ask your friends and colleagues what dishes comprise German cuisine and they’ll probably answer “sausages, sauerkraut, potatoes and rye bread.”  These stereotypes have long been reenforced by movies such as European Vacation and television comedies such as Hogan’s Heroes.   In fact, Hogan’s Heroes was probably  responsible for many of my generation being afraid to try German food, especially the dreaded sauerbraten. 

In the world’s culinary stage, the cuisine of Germany may not be as recognizable or popular as the cuisine of its neighbors France and Italy, but compared to the cuisine of Eastern Europe (Poland, Hungary), it’s made significant inroads, even in New Mexico.  For nearly two decades, Duke City diners were graced by the wit, beauty and culinary talents of Dagmar Schulze  Mondgragon who served wonderful German food at her eponymous restaurant.  A Polish restaurant in the northeast heights was short-lived in the 1980s and to my knowledge, the cuisine of Hungary hasn’t been featured at any restaurant in Albuquerque.

Wurst Plate with Sauerkraut

Shortly after health issues forced Dagmar to bid a fond auf Wiedersehen to the Albuquerque restaurant scene, (but sadly not in time for Oktoberfest) the Heimat House and Beer Garden opened its doors on October 25, 2014.  Located at the familiar location which previously housed Liquid Assets, the Independence Grill, Los Compadres and a number of other restaurants, the Heimat House bills itself as a “modern German restaurant” which will also feature a number of Polish and Hungarian dishes. 

The Heimat House inherited the dark, masculine woods look and feel of an authentic Teutonic tavern from previous tenants, but it won’t be mistaken for any of them.  A curio cabinet near the entrance displays German collectibles such as Hummel figurines, Christmas nutcrackers, and beer steins.  The beer garden incorporates elements of an outdoor patio, indoor atrium and the interior bar.  The restaurant’s sound system pipes in not only the familiar bassy oompah and accordion beat of German music, but other music designed to put you into a festive mood.

Vadgombalves (Hungarian Mushroom Soup)

Perhaps the best descriptor of German, Polish and Hungarian food is “comforting” as in stick-to-your-ribs comfort foods (CNN Travel named Germany’s deep-fried potato pancake as one of the world’s ten greatest comfort foods).   For my friend Bob of the Village People (BOTVOLR), the comfort food properties of Polish and German food in particular evoke memories of enjoying these foods in his youth.  Bob visited Heimat House shortly after it opened, knowing that there would be “start-up” issues, the type of which all new restaurants seem to experience during the “feeling their way around” period.  Bob’s descriptions of his meal were so enticing that we visited two days later. 

Predictably, our inaugural visit was fraught with kinks to be worked out.  None of those kinks detracted from what turned out to be a very satisfying, very pleasant dining experience, one we’ll want to revisit soon.  Because neither potato pancakes or pierogies were available, it gave us the opportunity to try other dishes we might not otherwise have ordered.  The most grievous faux pas was not serving a great German rye bread or perhaps a broetchen, but this, too, was forgivable because plans were in place to correct this gaffe.  By our second visit, Heimat House’s baker, who was already preparing the restaurant’s decadent desserts, began baking breads using dough from Albuquerque’s Swiss Alps Bakery.  The light rye is served with a sweet honey butter an is quite good at sopping up some of the restaurant’s terrific sauces. 

Hungarian Spicy Sausage Soup

21 February 2015: German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche once postulated that “a diet that consists predominantly of potatoes leads to the use of liquor.”  If those potatoes are used in the creation of some Eastern European favorites, I might be inclined to agree with the existentialist giant.  We found the Polish pierogies (stuffed potatoes and cheese) at Heimat rather boring and tasteless.  Served with onions fried to a pearlescent sheen and a dollop of sour cream, they paled in comparison with the delicious pierogies at the Red Rock Deli.  The German potato pancakes with applesauce made the pierogies seem exciting in comparison.  With most of my favorite foods redolent with bold, assertive flavors, it stands to reason that the pierogies and potato pancakes would seem boring to me.  Your experience might differ.

21 February 2015: As boring as we found the pierogies and the potato pancake, we were thrilled with the Hungarian spicy sausage soup, an invigorating soup redolent with fiery red paprika, the national spice of Hungary. Imbued with the characteristic rusty red color and smoky aroma of many Hungarian soups, the soup showcases a sausage that is indeed spicy though not necessarily piquant.  It’s sliced link sausage, not sausage resembling fried ground beef.  The soup also includes potatoes and onions.  This richly fragrant and deeply flavored soup is especially good on a cold winter day, but will satisfy anytime, anywhere.

Currywurst with French Fries

1 November 2014: Satirist H. L. Mencken once noted that “there are more different sausages in Germany than there are breakfast foods in America, and if there is a bad one among them then I have never heard of it.”  Stereotypes be damned, when you visit Heimat House, you’ve got to try the sausage which is procured from the Duke City’s Alpine Sausage Kitchen.  The Wurst Plate is a terrific appetizer featuring two types of sausage served with a mound of sauerkraut.  Neither of the finely blended sausages are especially spicy, but a small dab of German mustard will give you all the punch you need.  The sauerkraut doesn’t have the lip-pursing tang some ascribe to German sauerkraut, but it’s not bad. 

1 November 2014: Four different soups, including an intriguing Dill Pickle Soup which BOTVOLR enjoyed, adorn the menu. The Hungarian Mushroom Soup is the type of soul-warming, deeply satisfying, robust and creamy soup that cures all ills.  It’s brimming with woodsy mushrooms and translucent white onions in a rich, buttery mushroom stock.  The sliced mushroom are deliciously meaty and earthy; they’re clearly the starring attraction of a very good soup.  If your experiences with mushroom soups are associated with Campbell’s labels, you owe it to yourself to try the real thing.

Konigsberger Klopse (Meatballs in Sour Cream Sauce With German Noodles, Cucumber Salad and Beet Salad

1 November 2014: During their holiday season visit to Los Angeles in 2013, my friends über podcaster-bloggers Hannah and Edward considered the currywurst the best meal they had in the City of Angels.  Currywurst is a Germany meets India meets America dish which has exploded onto the European culinary scene where it’s especially popular as a street food option.  In recent years, currywurst has even begun to ensnare even American affections.  What’s not to love?  The three essential elements of the currywurst create an addictive flavor when combined.  Germany’s contribution is the wurst (sausage).  The curry is Indian and the tomato ketchup is an American invention.  It’s the ketchup and curry powder combination that gives this entree a rich, spicy flavor and perhaps has a nostalgic effect on diners (hot dogs with ketchup anyone?).   The currywurst is served with cubed French fries which you’ll lovingly dip into that delicious curry ketchup. 

1 November 2014: Konigsberger Klopse, an alliterative Prussian entree that resonates with rich flavor is yet another comfort food entree you’ll appreciate more as the seasons transition to colder climates.  Essentially meatballs (or meat dumplings) in a sour cream sauce, this dish has a flavor profile quite unlike Swedish meatballs.  The meatballs inherit a salty intensity from capers and (perhaps) anchovies (as called for in many traditional recipes).  The sour cream sauce lends a creamy, rich tartness.  At Heimat House, this dish is served with German noodles and a cucumber salad.  The cucumber salad is impregnated with dill and sour cream.  For an interesting contrast, order the beet salad, too.  The beet salad has a sweet-and-sour quality courtesy of the light tartness it gleans from vinegar. 

Stroganoff

21 February 2015: My very first memories of Stroganoff stem from having prepared a reconstituted version as a Boy Scout some thirty plus years ago. No one else in Troop 512 would even sample this “sophisticated” (albeit packaged and dehydrated) dish, which as it turns out, was a good thing for me.  Alas, my love for stroganoff has, until rather recently, been unrequited.  It just hasn’t been available at very many Albuquerque restaurants.  The Heimat House not only serves Stroganoff, it serves a magical version of a dish that looks and tastes like a stew, but with gourmet elements.  Packed with rich, tender beef and deep, stick-to-your-ribs flavors with “cooked all day long” properties, it’s the essence of comfort food especially on a chilly deep winter day.  As with all great Stroganoff dishes, the noodles are perfect, the antithesis of al dente or mushy.  The sauce balances creaminess and rich, browned flavors with addictively savory notes.

21 February 2015: Beef, it’s what’s for dinner!  Sunday dinners, especially in the Midwest from where my Kim hails, are a veritable celebration of a German favorite: Bavarian Pot Roast.  Now, Bavarian Pot Roast is one of those dishes critics and spoilsports will decry for its high-calorie, high (very) fat, high protein, low-carb properties, while proponents care only that it’s delicious and it’s filling.  That’s the camp in which my Kim stands.  The Heimat House version of pot roast could well have been lovingly made by a German mutter.  It’s rich, tender and pulls apart easily.  Prepared with a spice mix which includes ginger and nutmeg, it definitely resonates with Old World flavors and deliciousness.  The Bavarian pot roast is served with aromatic German red cabbage and potatoes.  Only the potatoes struck out with us.

Bavarian Pot Roast with Red Cabbage and Potatoes

1 November 2014: Hogan’s Heroes might have you believe strudel is the only German dessert there is.  In truth, German desserts are very diverse and sinfully delicious.  Surprisingly, the most famous “German” dessert of all didn’t actually originate in Germany; it originated in the United States.   German chocolate cake is actually named for Samuel German, the man who created German’s Sweet Chocolate for the Baker’s Chocolate brand.  The Heimat House version of German chocolate cake is moist and decadent with sweetened coconut and chopped pecans spread between three layers and on top.  The chocolate itself has notes of cocoa and butter.  German chocolate cake belongs in the pantheon of great German desserts, even if it’s not really German. 

1 November 2014: One of my very favorite German entrees is Rouladen, essentially a meat that has been rolled around a filling.  It didn’t surprise us to see Roulade (which translates to roll) on the dessert menu.  The Hungarian Raspberry Cream Roulade is a light and creamy slice of heaven served with housemade whipped cream. This is a very popular and very traditional Hungarian dessert favorite which Duke City diners will enjoy, too.

Deutsch Schokoladenkuchen (German Chocolate Cake)

The Heimat House and Beer Garden celebrates all that is great about Germanic cuisine, a broad swath of deliciousness that frankly hasn’t received the respect and adulation it deserves.  Here’s betting Duke City diners embrace the Heimat House and incorporate German cuisine into their rotation of favorites.

Heimat House and Beer Garden
6910 Montgomery, N.E.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
(505) 814-0014
Web Site
LATEST VISIT: 21 February 2015
1st VISIT: 1 November 2014
# OF VISITS: 2
RATING: 19
COST: $$
BEST BET: Currywurst, Hungarian Mushroom Soup, Meatballs in Sour Cream Sauce With German Noodles, Beet Salad, Cucumber Salad, German Chocolate Cake, Hungarian Raspberry Cream Roulade, Stroganoff, Bayerischer Schmorbraten

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