Guten Tag, everyone.
It’s October, the time of month when the wind kicks up, the temperatures start to plummet and families prepare their Halloween costumes.
I do happen to fancy Halloween, but there is another thing I quite enjoy far more than a Hershey’s Kiss or Snickers bar.
Man, downtown Hinesville was sure a hopping place (ha, get it, as in beer hops … but I digress), at least for two years in a row in October 2009 and 2010. For those two years, the entire community crowded into Bradwell Park for Oktoberfest celebrations that were put together by the Hinesville Downtown Development Authority, Fort Stewart’s Morale, Welfare and Recreation and, of course, Zum Rosenhof German Restaurant.
For an entire weekend, downtown transformed in to Bavaria. It was amazing.
Ziggy zaggy, ziggy zaggy, oi oi oi!
Yep, I can still hear the constant singing of that traditional German toast as folks gathered up their beer steins and gulped down some Warsteiner or Hefeweizen brews.
Before then, my only experience with German beer was Becks, Heineken and Lowenbrau — you know, the Americanized version of German beer.
It was during these festivals that I got my first taste of Tucher, Warsteiner, Hefeweizen and Gaffel Kolsch beers.
Funny, I don’t quite remember much after that.
We haven’t had the street fest the past few years, but October definitely pulls my thoughts to munching down a bratwurst sandwich and tipping back a Warsteiner. We might not have the festival, but we still have Zum Rosenhof.
I have tried nearly all Zum Rosenhof’s versions of schnitzels, with my favorites being the jaeger schnitzel and onion schnitzel.
The pork loin is beaten thin and lightly breaded and fried crisp. The jaeger schnitzel is topped with a rich brown mushroom sauce, while the onion schnitzel is covered with a mountain of grilled onions.
I love the side salad. The first time I saw the sliced cuts of lettuce and red cabbage topped over some green beans and drizzled with a light creamy sauce with vinegar and dill, I wasn’t too sure how it would taste.
Verdict: It was delicious.
The bratwurst sandwich is hefty, and it goes well with the home fries, which are well-spiced and different than just regular cut fries.
The creamy grilled chicken-breast lunch special is rich and savory. The sauce is poured over the chicken and regular cut fries. It’s enough to fill you for the rest of your day, and it’s definitely worth the price.
I tried the Schweinebraten, a pork roast that is slowly simmered until it falls apart at the touch of your fork. It is covered with a thick, savory and deep-flavored brown sauce. The potato salad has a distinct zesty flavor, and the spaetzle is to die for.
Don’t even get me started on the daily selection of decadent cakes and desserts.
But the food at Zum Rosenhof is just half of the experience.
Every time I walk into Zum, the staff is quick to offer a boisterous “Guten Tag!” and the wait staff who know me well enough are also quick to bring me a cold brew.
I love how all the waitresses are decked out in traditional dirndl attire.
It is another one of those Hinesville locations where you feel like you are walking in to have a meal with your family. I’ve often sat at the bar area for dinner next to complete strangers only to walk out knowing I’ve made new friends.
Owner Anka Hinze is quick to offer you a smile and sometimes a hug. Birthday celebrations should always include the 2-liter Das Boot beer challenge.
I think I did that — once. Can’t remember.
What I do remember was when a fire threatened to take away the one place I knew I could go and get my German on.
It was three weeks before Christmas in 2008. An employee came in around 10 a.m. to set up for lunch. She unlocked the front door and slightly opened it when she saw smoke and smelled something burning. It was an unfortunate situation happening just a week after the restaurant had finished an extensive renovation.
But fortunately, the fire was contained to the bar, and despite a lot of smoke and soot damage, the food and the beer were flowing by the second week of February 2009.
That was followed by those two wild and crazy Oktoberfest years.
Nowadays, the bar is covered with hanging $1 bills painted in the colors of the German flag or brandishing a personal message written with a Sharpie marker.
Even more exciting is the new addition Anka Hinze said the restaurant hopes to open shortly — Speisekammer German Groceries, right next door.
I’m looking forward to being able to buy some German staples and take plenty home to experiment with.
The bottom line is that the family friendly and intimate atmosphere found at Zum Rosenhof make it Oktoberfest all year round.
You don’t have to take my word for it. Just pass by the place on a Friday and Saturday night, and you will see the cars parked along Midway Street. Roll down your window, and you can hear folks just having a good time.
Ziggy zaggy, ziggy zaggy, oi oi oi!
Email Leon at firstname.lastname@example.org.