In October, our meeting with Michael and Bill was scheduled to take place at MoJoe's in German Village, an historic district within Columbus that lies in the shadow of technological behemoth Nationwide Children's Hospital.
A few weeks prior to our meeting, Bug researched places where we could meet. It was at this time he recalled our last meeting and stumbled upon Schmidt's Sausage Haus und Restaurant in German Village.
Featured in a Food Network television program, Man vs Food, the take home message from the show was to check out their German Autobahn buffet, and try their Bahama Mama sausages and gigantic cream puffs.
After a few wrong turns along the narrow brick alleys in the tightly woven fabric of European-style brick apartments, we stumbled upon a small parking lot that appeared out of place. It was then that we noticed several Schmidt's signs. The dashboard clock read 11:04 a.m.
The lot was almost full, with 3 spaces to spare after we parked. Several Schmidt's signs directed us in different directions. Without a flashing waypoint directing us, we set out toward the most logical direction - forward.
It was 11:07 when we walked into the restaurant. The place was bustling with the hum of diners' conversations and silverware clinking on platters, as if it had been open for hours as servers walked briskly to and fro.
Before shuffling to the hostess' podium, sausages and desserts in cold display cases were a delicious distraction, oh, the desserts! Beautiful cream puffs lined neatly in a row, ready to march into my belly. I wanted to point to one and say, "You're mine." Bug interrupted my skit and pushed me forward. We were greeted with a warm smile and seated immediately.
Scanning the restaurant, it was already 1/3 full and the bar was starting to fill up all within 7 minutes of opening their doors.
In addition to salt, pepper, and sugar packets, each table was supplied with large glass jars of spicy brown mustard and horseradish (pictured here). Bug was overjoyed.
Bug uncharacteristically threw caution to the wind and did not check the price of the buffet. The siren song of all-you-can-eat German sausages must have called to him. I quickly ordered iced tea, then we marched over to the buffet area.
The central buffet offered German potato salad, creamy macaroni and cheese, corned beef and cabbage, sauerkraut, red cabbage sauerkraut, green beans and spätzle (spaetzle), bratwurst, Bahama Mama sausages (regular and spicy), sausage stew, and two other pans (pictured in the bottom right) of which I unfortunately do not recall their contents; perhaps they were cabbage and noodles and another type of sausage.
The cold table (not pictured) held fresh salads, pickled vegetables and salads, cole slaw, and apple sauce, a necessity to balance all that meat. Adjacent to the salad was a pot of fantastic chicken and dumpling soup.
It may have just been the lighting, but I thought I saw tears of joy streaming down Bug's cheeks as he ate his meal.
I loved the snap of each juicy bite of every sausage. The bratwurst was delicious but, compared with the smoky spiciness of the Bahama Mama, was a bit too meaty tasting for me.
The large pan of sausage stew intrigued me as I have never had "sausage stew." I've had sausage with pasta, sausage with sauerkraut, sausage with eggs, sausage in pizza, sausage in fried rice, sausage in gumbo, sausage in jambalaya...okay, maybe sausage stew isn't all that weird. I haven't had it in the same manner as it is served here -- spicy, peppery, and smoky with a slightly sweet edge, reminiscent of baked beans and rather addictive.
German potato salad can be hit and miss with me: too sour, oniony, bland, overcooked or undercooked potatoes, metallic flavored. Red cabbage sauerkraut has never done it for me, for similar reasons. When I returned for a second trip, I revisited the macaroni and cheese, red cabbage sauerkraut, Bahama Mama sausage, German potato salad, and cucumbers. The sauerkraut was mildly sweet and not overbearingly sour, with a slight crunch, not that too often mushy texture. The potato salad was perfectly cooked, appropriately applied vinegar and a touch smoky.
It was around 11:30 when we began hearing names announced for seating for the approximately ten people crowded near the front door.
I was not leaving without having the vanilla cream puff ($2.95 with buffet) so I stopped after my second trip, already feeling sated. Other temptations on their dessert menu were apple strüdel (strudel / struedel), banana, coconut, and chocolate cream pies, and German chocolate cake.
Pâte à choux is my favorite pastry and vanilla is my favorite dessert flavor. Three cream puff flavors are offered, vanilla, chocolate, and peanut butter. I was tempted to order the peanut butter filling, but I went with vanilla. Feeling a tinge gluttonous, I rather reluctantly shared the cream puff stuffed with thick pastry cream with Bug even though I knew it was impossible for me finish the whole plate myself.
When the check arrived, I picked up the check, glanced at the total, placed it back down, then picked the check up again to register the total. For two buffets, dessert, iced tea, plus tax, the check came to a nominal $25!
As busy as this restaurant was, our server was always cordial, our water and iced tea glasses were never under half-filled, and empty plates were not on our table for long.
We left the restaurant around 11:45, dodged the large crowd of people waiting at the front door and outside, and stopped to smell the flowers for a few seconds in a garden alcove between Schmidt's Fudge Haus and Gifts and the restaurant. Bug was already planning our return trip to the restaurant.
Near the fudge counter pictured, there is a display that shows how fudge is made. We walked out with a pound of pumpkin spice fudge and a couple of cherry cordials and peanut butter cups.
Michael called wondering where we were. If we walked, we would have arrived at our meeting spot in 5 minutes, but the roads are unkind to strangers with handheld GPS units when driving more than 10 mph, so we circled around the same quarter mile radius for 10 minutes. Every turn we made was met by a recalculation, every straightaway we took was another recalculation.
Schmidt's Sausage Haus und Restaurant
240 E Kossuth St
Columbus, OH 43206
Tel: (614) 444-6808
Hours of Operation:
Sun - Mon: 11:00 a.m. - 9:00 p.m.
Tue - Thu: 11:00 a.m. - 10:00 p.m.
Fri - Sat: 11:00 a.m. - 11:00 p.m.
Buffet available from open until close
Closed Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas
Schmidt's Fudge House
240 E Kossuth St
Columbus, OH 43206
Tel: (614) 444-2222