Ok, I know this may be a long drive for a date night, but I visited House of Gerard on an overnighter in Kenosha, Wisconsin and had to share it. My date for the night was my 7-year-old son, Brandon, who isn’t real keen on the German specialties, but went for his favorite – shrimp cocktail. The shrimp were gigantic and he finished them off quickly with his baked potato.
I, on the other hand, have more of an appreciation for authentic German cooking and instantly fell in love with the place. The festive German décor paired with the authentic outfits worn by the waitresses make it Oktoberfest no matter what time of the year you’re visiting.
The house appetizers on the night we were there were toasted bread with pâté, rolls, muffins and cole slaw. I had a hard time deciding on my entrée since there were so many tasty options – which include Kassler Rippchen (smoked pork chops), sauerbraten, beef stroganoff, rouladen and prime rib. However, I went with my absolute favorite German dish, schnitzel.
Even the schnitzel menu offers several options. The Holstein is topped with eggs and anchovies. The Cordon Bleu is covered with ham and Swiss cheese. And the Oscar is topped with crabmeat, asparagus and hollandaise sauce. I ordered Gerhard’s Schnitzel, the dish in its simplest form, a pan fried cutlet served with lemon and sprinkled with parsley along side the most tender and sweet carrots you could imagine. For my choice of potato, I selected potato pancakes (another German menu favorite) served with apple sauce. The schnitzel was probably the best I’ve ever had, surpassing even the famed Berghoff’s in Chicago and several other German eateries in Chicagoland.
Other menu items include knockwurst and sauerkraut, several seafood offerings, steaks, liver and onions, lamb chops and Reuben sandwiches. Several imported German beers can be found on the drink menu.
House of Gerhard opened in 1964 by German immigrant Gerhard Dillner. It is now operated by his daughter, son-in-law and two grandchildren. Gerhard’s son-in-law, Dick Rudin, was recognized as the 2009 “Outstanding Restaurateur of the Year by the Wisconsin Restaurant Association.
While it is a bit of a trek, the meal is well worth the drive. Make it a daytime trip where the lunchtime items are considerably less expensive than on the dinner menu. The restaurant is smoke-free and easy to find – just 5 miles east of I-94 in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
Better yet, make it into a weekend trip and follow up your dinner with a stay at the Best Western Harborside, the only Kenosha hotel located on the lake. The next day you can explore the lakefront and Kenosha’s free museums. Visit the restaurant's website at www.houseofgerhard.com. For more information on the Kenosha area, visit www.kenoshacvb.com.