For anyone who has traveled around Virginia, the Bavarian Chef on Route 29 in Madison County is a familiar fixture that has fed many with its wonderful German cuisine since it was started in 1974 by Eckhard and Bruni Thalwitz. The Thalwitz’s son, Jerome, took over the operation in 1985 and is now its head chef. Among the changes Chef Jerome has brought to the Bavarian Chef include locating a second restaurant in Fredericksburg, which is destined to be point of pride in the downtown dining area.
In Fredericksburg, Chef Thalwitz has transformed the train station at the end of Lafayette Street into an old meeting hall typical of the train stations in Bavaria which serve as both a community meeting place and restaurant according to Christine Thalwitz, spouse of Jerome and director of marketing and sales. Having grown up in the restaurant industry, Chef Thalwitz studied in Bavaria, taking after his father Eckhard who was once the personal chef to the head of the Moroccan government. Returning to America, Chef worked in various positions in restaurants, including opening his own restaurant, Little Chef, near to where his father opened the original Bavarian Chef. Both Chef and Christine are physical trainers and proper health has always been a very important concern in preparing foods they serve. Everything that comes out of the kitchen is hand made and prepared from ingredients that are as fresh as possible.
Upon entering the main dining room, my wife, Diane, and I were struck by the comforting atmosphere enhanced by subdued lighting and varieties of German music playing in the background, audible but not distracting. The facility and the ambience is a mere backdrop to the excellent food that is served. Meredith, our attendant, with her excellent knowledge of the menu was a true delight. We started with an appetizer of crab stuffed portabella, whose presentation was outstanding but did not begin to compete with the taste. The mushroom was done to perfection and was excellently balanced with a substantial crab meat filling. When we had finished the appetizer, which could have been a meal in itself, we knew we were in for a seriously delicious meal.
Opting for one of the many specials of the day, I enjoyed a boneless chicken breast over sauteed onions and apples with a sauce that transformed the chicken from just another poultry dish to a full flavored masterpiece, Swiss cheese being melted over the entire entree. Accompanying the dish were excellent sides of German potato salad, which is my favorite and prepared superbly with just the right amount of bacon to enhance the taste and not hide it. Also served was a Schnitzel which reminded me of macaroni and cheese cooked with a German twist. From the excellent wine list provided, I chose a Juan Gil Monastrel that complemented the meal perfectly. Diane enjoyed Zigeuner Schnitzel, an excellent harmony of hand breaded pork over mushrooms, onions and peppers, with a tomato and bacon sauce. Accompanying her meal were green beans that were cooked with mushrooms and peppers (which made it quite the vegetable trio) and red cabbage with apples giving a refreshing spice flavor. Diane opted for tea with her meal.
As we neared a culinary bliss, we looked at our plates and realized we had only eaten half of what was there. Meredith, appearing at just the right time, suggested she could box up the remains with a full complement of sides, leaving just enough room for dessert. When the dessert tray arrived, we were both glad we had taken her advice. From an elegant display that included Black Forest Cake, Creme Broullet, a Bavarian Nut Ball (ice cream rolled in nuts), three cheesecakes, four cakes, and an Apple Streudel with almonds, we chose and split a piece of cheese cake with peaches. It was a difficult choice because everything looked so good and I am sure everything was as good as it looked. It should be noted that the desserts are a win-win situation, you cannot go wrong.
The cheesecake was no different from the rest of the meal, in that it was better than either Diane or I could ever have imagined. The texture was smooth and creamy with a taste that encouraged one to let it sit in your mouth while it was absorbed finishing off the bliss that began at the end of the entree.
Upon finishing our meal, I am not sure whether it was the atmosphere, the food, or both that had such an affect on us, but we felt like royalty. Not only were we very pleasantly full, but found ourselves sitting back relaxed and savoring what a wonderfully elegant experience we had just had.