20 W. 200 South, Salt Lake City ; 801-355-3891
Meat and potatoes are your best bets at this casual downtown German market-deli.
Cuisine: German, Deli
Hours: M-W, 9 a.m.-6 p.m.; Th-S, 9 a.m.-9 p.m.
Liquor: Beer & Wine
Reservations: Not accepted/necessary
Recommended Dishes: Wienerschnitzel, pork leg and sausages.
October 10, 2007
Looking for something spaetzle? You could do a lot wurst than this
By Vanessa Chang
Oktoberfest seems to be one of those holidays, like St. Patrick's Day, where anyone can join in on the celebration regardless of cultural origin. So long as you're jovial, like beer and sausage, and enjoy a festival, you're in. Leiderhosen optional. Even smile-queen Rachael Ray got in on the action on a recent episode of her talk show, delighting an equally enthusiastic studio audience with a sausage-fest in the kitchen and a stein-holding contest.
Annual festivities are all well and fine. But what's a person to do when the cold weather sets in and nothing sounds better than a rib-sticking meal of juicy brats, tangy-savory sauerkraut and potatoes in some divine form? And not a festival nor smiling talk show host to be found?
Smack in the center of downtown Salt Lake City, just down from Capitol Theatre and across the street from the Hotel Monaco, Siegfried's Deli is probably the most reliable place to get not only the wursts of Oktoberfest fame, but also decent deli sandwiches, and great hot dishes centered around the classic meat and potatoes pairing.
The first problem though may be just getting there. Pedestrians and TRAX commuters have a distinct advantage since they don't have to navigate the construction traffic from farther south on Main Street and search out metered parking. On a busy day, you could very well be re-enacting a scene from "National Lampoon's European Vacation," repeatedly circling the block for a bona fide parking space. Look, kids! Bambara! Olive Garden!
Once you do walk in through the doors, don't expect a festival with an oom-pah-pah soundtrack. There's a peculiar duality to the place that, depending on your mindset, makes it so unique or so disdainful. It's the kind of place where they proffer delicious Crumb Brothers bread and then use pallid, canned-tasting mushrooms in the goulash ($6.99).
The deli itself is just part of the overall Siegfried's scheme. Dining tables occupied by office folk are strewn between sections of the market that sells zwieback toasts, European cookies and Kinder chocolates. A rack of German tabloids and a flat-screen TV beaming what we could only guess as "Germany's Next Top Hairdresser" greeted us at the door.
Service is brusque and efficient at best, especially during lunch, the way veteran waiters at Jewish delis in New York City like Carnegie Deli would treat even the most loyal customers. I know folks who regularly stand in Siegfried's lunch counter line, drooling at the prospect of a hot crispy-tender pork shoulder ($7.99) or a decent pastrami on rye ($4.49) and are treated like the casual tourist who sauntered in. I know a few more still harbor a secret fear of being scowled at by the cashier. This place is the antithesis of Rachael Ray and any ersatz cultural festival. It cuts to the chase with consistent offerings, the best of which are offered during lunch. And that risk is definitely appealing to many. As one friend and Siegfried's regular ruminated over a slice of Black Forest cake ($2.59) "it's kinda like the Soup Nazi on Seinfeld."
Most hot entrees make first-time customers into regulars. The aforementioned pork leg ($7.99) is gargantuan for the price and sparks a primordial joy in the middle of an otherwise boring day. The crisp-fried wienerschnitzel ($6.99) is excellent; don't forget to squeeze the lemon wedges on the plate over the sizzling fillet. Each entree comes with two sides. Don't bother with the cold potato salad or coleslaw. Keep it hot and keep it starchy. Creamy hot potato salad is surprisingly bracing and tangy. Fried potatoes are like chive-y hash browns. Spaetzle is a classic here; you can get it with or without the gravy. I usually get a double helping of the potato noodles without the brown stuff. And don't underestimate the cabbage here. Sauerkraut (shredded with bacon) and rotkraut (sweet with applesauce) provide a nice contrast to savory meats.
The best of which are sausages. Germany boasts the variety and quality of regional wursts the way the French wax poetic about their pantheon of cheese. For the sausage platter ($5.99), choose from mildly seasoned bratwurst, knackwurst (stubby links of pork and beef), weisswurst (nitrite-free minced veal and pork fat) or German wieners, all specialties of Siegfried's.
Try it in honor of Oktoberfest. Try it in honor of your inner meat-and-potatoes-loving soul. And if the service really gets to you that much think of it this way: It could be worse. Rachael Ray could be serving you "Knockwurst Soup" instead.
Tribune's rating system
1 star Good
2 stars Very good
3 stars Excellent
4 stars Extraordinary
$ Entree under $10
$$$$ Above $25
1 bell Quiet (under 65 decibles)
2 bells Can talk easily (65-70)
3 bells Talking somewhat difficult (70-75)
4 bells Raised voices (75-80)
A bomb Too noisy for normal conversation (80+)
The Tribune covers the cost of all meals at reviewed restaurants. Star ratings are based on a minimum of two visits. Ratings are updated continually based on at least one revisit. There is no connection between reviews and advertising.