For those of you that celebrate the 25th of December, I hope you had a wonderful Christmas! Last Christmas, the GF and I flew to Michigan to spend time with her folks. One of the standout meals was the fried chicken dinner at Zehnder's of Frankenmuth, The competing counterpart to this bastion of Michigan-style fried chicken is The Bavarian Inn.
Located right across the street from Zehnder's of Frankenmuth, the Bavarian Inn offers a similar menu with some twists.
An ode to a German haus-style environment, Bavarian Inn is perpetually decorated with Christmas cheer. In fact, being that we were there a few days before Christmas, Santa came out to greet everyone during dinner.
As with most restaurants in Michigan, Pepsi is the "pop" of choice at this establishment. No Coke products to be had here. But on with the food!
Ultimate Family Style Bavarian Inn Meal [$24.99 pp]
We decided to go with the ultimate - all you can eat fried chicken, sides, the addition of 4 extra German-style meats, and potato cheese puffs.
Stollen, backofenbrot, fruit preserves
Already on the table was a fruit and nut bread (stollen), homemade white bread (backofenbrot), crackers, and some fruit preserves to whet the appetite.
The broth was a bit watery, thin, and without much seasoning, but the noodles were al dente and toothsome.
This was a nice mix of celery, beans, and peppers. The vinegary bite helped to cut the heft of the rest of the meal.
The mayo-based chicken pasta offered another nice bite with a mix of al dente shells and peas.
This mayo-based coleslaw was creamy with substantial bits of cabbage - highly reminiscent of KFC, but in a good way!
The cranberry relish was clearly homemade and not overly sweet. The tartness was a nice countervailing element to the meal.
What was known as baked dressing was essentially stuffing. There were some peppery notes, redolent with broth baked into bread.
The buttered noodles were exactly that - nicely al dente noodles in a buttery broth with a cracker crumble atop.
The baked squash was slightly starchy with sweet notes.
The mashed potatoes were slightly tart from the sour cream already mixed in, with starchy chunks interspersed throughout. It came with gravy on the side.
Bavarian Inn Meats
Kasseler rippchen, sauerbraten, bratwurst, schnitzel
The 'ultimate' meal came with an additional tray of 4 meats. Kasseler rippchen was a nicely smoked pork loin and ate like succulent ham. The sauerbraten was marinated roast beef with a bit of a sour note from the pickling. The bratwurst was the smoked sausage, which had hints of sweetness from cinnamon and clove. The schnitzel was breaded pork loin, which could have been more crisply fried and unfortunately, was a bit dry. Overall though, this was an interesting and hefty mix of meats.
Potato Cheese Puffs
But to be real, my favorite part of the meal was the creamy potato cheese puffs! These were crispy on the outside, with an intensely cheesy and creamy bite offered within. I ate 5 of these hockey pucks and easily could have had more. Zehnder's of Frankenmuth has nothing on these bad boys.
But of course, to most, the real star of the show is the fried chicken. If you're expecting Southern-style fried chicken, look elsewhere. The skin is crispy enough, but it is light and thin - more of a Shake n Bake style.
The chicken itself was quite moist and tender. It will easily tear apart in your hands.
Lemon Shortbread Cookies
Dessert commences with fragrant lemon shortbread cookies - moist with some frosting atop.
Vanilla Ice Cream
And of course, you can't forget the ice cream that ends the meal. You've got three varieties, including vanilla ...
... vanilla orange swirl ...
... and my favorite, the peppermint, which offered a cooling and refreshing mint bite.
So if you're looking for a great place for a family-style meal during the holidays, or frankly any day throughout the year, Bavarian Inn is a great bet. And while Bavarian Inn and Zehnder's are quite similar, there are some differences. Where the food is concerned, Bavarian Inn has Zehnder's
beat thanks to the potato cheese puffs. However, Zehnder's has a more relaxed and openly spaced environment. Still, you can't go wrong with either choice!