Maassmann's Restaurant - May 2009 (dt)
6.63 - 7, 7, 7, 7, 7, 6.5, 6, 5.5

A day-long hazy, milky light had finally descended into a glowering, thunder-imminent, shower-any-moment sky. Thus, what should have been a towering Northern Catskills Escarpment view was reduced to a view of the foothills with a swirl of clouds layering the top thousand feet of Blackhead Mountain.
             Although the parking lot was nearly full, we realized, upon entering Maassmann’s Restaurant at Blackhead Mountain Lodge & Country Club, that most of the fullness was due to golf course traffic. We were greeted by Ed Maassmann and promptly seated by Heather, our waiter (and part of the family ownership, as well as a fellow teacher at Cairo-Durham).
             Although several nooks and alcoves hide romantically off the bar area, DP8 dined in the main room, a medium lit room whose initial attraction is the length of windows on both side walls, with the west side capturing the view of the Catskill Escarpment (if a clear sky had allowed). A dozen or so white-linened tables fill the room, with one corner separated by an arbor entry. We sat in the center of the room, with a chandelier directly above, a wreath of vines attached to the ceiling around the chandelier stem, with a distinctive oval-ish wooden frame in the ceiling, perhaps fifteen feet long, visually delineating the center area.
             Softly stuccoed white walls set off the German-themed drawings and sketches, plates, shelves of mugs and steins, and lacy curtains decorated with a branch from Germany.
             Drink orders were taken within a few minutes. Two bottles of Banfi 2007 Chianti Classico served five of us, with diet sodas for the others. Two cheese-cracker-vegetable plates already awaited us, soon followed by two linen covered baskets of steam-warm, chewy yet airy rolls accompanied by an ample slice of butter that filled the two plates on which it arrived.
             Although we had nibbled amply at the Karnes’ abode earlier, we shared two appetizers – a dish of four potato pancakes served with a bowl of applesauce and a plate of baked Brie which rested on Roesti potatoes and topped with strips of brandied apples. A single trip around the table consumed both, with the majority of compliments for the brie.
             Included with dinner was salad or soup. Seven tried the house salad – a plate of greens, with a few shreds of red onion, a few wisps of carrot, and several slices of cucumber, topped with the house dressing – a creamy vinaigrette that everyone deemed good. Don tried the Navy bean soup, despite Heather’s cautionary glance – thin stock with copious amounts of slightly undercooked beans, with pieces of onion and celery. (Another hour of simmering would have been just right.)
             The noise level had been very quiet up to this point, with our table being one of three occupied. Then two large groups, numbering twenty or so, ushered in a wave of noise that settled down into a happy crowd.
             About an hour after arrival, the entrées arrived. The restaurant features several German specialties while also serving Continental and American choices. DP8 usually goes with the flow so most of us sampled the specialties. The German choices are served with red cabbage and spaetzle, unless otherwise asked for. The sauerbraten was a tender, able-to-cut-with-fork, gravy-marinated entrée (Don and Deb K, tender and very good); strip steak au poivre (Kriss, very good, well-done as ordered, leftovers for Krypton, as usual); a center cut roast pork with gravy (Deb T, very good; and Tim, mediocre, tough, overdone; both judged the sauce to be excellent); Jaegerschnitzel, lightly bread veal cutlet, sautéed (Chay, very good); Schnitzel a-la Holstein - Wienerschnitzel topped with fried egg, anchovies and capers (Ken, good although he was experimenting away from his usual range this evening); and the Veal Osso Bucco special (Judy, very good with an excellent sauce). Both Tim and Judy had mashed potatoes and vegetables for sides. The gravy and sauce maker was complimented by all.
             We leisurely sat through the main course, chatted, and examined future DP8 dates before Heather took the order for the desserts. Preceding the dessert course, the Maassmanns (Peter & Heather) offered an after-dinner drink. Two of us had Frangelica, as two sipped black Sambucas.
             And, of course, dessert. Sating our dessert appetite was the warm apple strudel, with vanilla ice cream and whipped cream (Don, Ken, so-so); vanilla ice cream with syrup (Kriss, a good portion); rainbow sherbet (Deb T); banana bread pudding with blueberries (Judy, ok); chocolate mousse (Deb K, good); and Tim and Chay sipped their usual after dinner drink. The dessert list deserves the short side of an average rating.
              Service was, well, very good and different. Heather knows us too well, is a character (I think “pip” was mentioned at least once), and served us with a flair that no other waiter can match unless he/she has the same relationship. Although insouciance, mild sarcasm, taunts and ribbing – part of our usual school relationship – was also part of the night’s service, Heather delivered a competent and able evening of friendly, knowledgeable, and attentive service. Ken’s “girlie” coffee mug was checked regularly, and water glasses emptied and were filled several times.
             The pacing for the evening seemed comfortable although we stayed for over two-and-a-half hours, which, on some evenings, seems a bit tedious. But, not tonight.
             The bill came to $80 per couple, including tax, tip and drinks, a value-laden evening. Even the wine pricing seemed to favor the diner more than most restaurants.
             We left in the steady rain that just previously was announced by a dozen shots of lightning and rolls of thunder.
             Another good pick by the tricksters!

We had met earlier at Karneses, where Chay and Deb presented pretzel and bread short sticks, a plate of vegetables, some sweet pickles, and a bowl of artichoke and garlic dip to accompany. Good choices again, Deb. Meanwhile, Chay kept the wine, beer and soda glasses as full as we wanted.
             Chatter swirled in its usual connections to everyday stuff – Krypton, deer (a continual topic this year), the cloudier than forecast day, the Monteverd’s tractor wheel valve stem, Yankees games, the stone house tour the Teators attended during the day, work, Mother’s Day, Nathan’s house, Tim’s nose bleeds, Tim’s “utility pole” and ground for electricity, gardening, the dark chocolate peanut M&Ms, upcoming vacations, the Preakness that we did not get to see, and more.
             We spent more time than usual sorting out our calendar and agreeing on an extemporaneous, and different, lineup. Tentatively, we have June 12 (Fri) at the Pub, July 11 at the Adamses, and August 21 (very tentative) at Saratoga. Summers are always busy and dates-in-common are at a premium. (Perhaps, when we are all retired, it will be easier! I bet not, though.)
             And the drive there was a classic Karnesian adventure. After spending over an hour at the Karnes, they saved twenty minutes to get to the destination, feinting as if it were Bavarian Manor before circling the block for Blackhead.
             On to June!