Wurzburg-Haus 7212 Muncaster Mill Rd., Rockville 330-0402 Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday; 11 a.m to 10 p.m. Saturday; 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday. Prices: Most dinner entrees are $7 to $10. Credit cards: Choice, MasterCard, Visa.
Wurzburg-Haus is a find. And judging from the crowds at this new little German restaurant, it's already been found. (Lesson: go early, and on a weeknight.)
The secret of all that popularity? A cuisine that's hard to find in restaurants these days: remarkably good cooking and very reasonable prices. With that winning combination, you can easily ignore the bright fluorescent lights, the soft-drink machine in the corner, the beer cases stacked on the floor, and the hard chairs.
To begin with, this is a restaurant for soups. The always-available goulash soup is a marvel: a thick, homey brew crammed with meat and potatoes and beautifully flavored. Even better is the steak soup, a special, made with ground beef in a formidable, old-fashioned beef broth with the taste of real marrow. These are soups to be savored, along with the good, yeasty, homemade rolls.
Among the appetizers, there are first-class potato pancakes, admirably light and ungreasy. The herring salad is excellent, too -- sweet and tart, with tiny chunks of pickled herring, potato and apple. So is the wurst salad, a pile of cold sliced sausage with crisp vegetables, swiss cheese and a good oil-vinegar dressing. Another fine choice is fleisch salad, made with sausage and leberkase, a lovely pork-based meat loaf (also available as an entree).
The five varieties of wurst, all good, are served on big platters with delicate herbed bread dumplings (made with that good homemade bread) and tart sauerkraut. (Be sure to eat the sausage with the kraut for the best flavor combination.) Those who think sausages have to be dense and highly spiced should try the weisswurst, a veal sausage of great delicacy with a creamy color and texture. Although not on the menu, we're told that a combination wurst platter is available on request.
Among the entrees, there's a terrific leberkase, a baked pork meat loaf that's spicy, bursting with juice and with the fine texture of a wurst. It's served with excellent home fries and a fried egg on top, elevating the taste of ham and eggs to new heights. Also top-notch is the pork schnitzel, a sometimes-available special, with tender, succulent, fine-textured meat. We found the regularly available Wiener schnitzel a little disappointing. The veal was nicely pan-fried and the egg batter crisp, but the meat was a little tough. The sauerbraten was pleasant enough, with excellent sweet and sour red cabbage on the side, but the beef was a bit dry. Wiener backhandel, a breaded, oven-baked chicken, is served in an immense portion that is nicely crisp on the surface, but here, too, the meat lacked juiciness.
The desserts, made in-house, are a must. The strudel is extraordinarily good, with a flaky crust and firm apples that have real bite. A close runner-up is the Black Forest cake, the genuine article, made with kirschwasser and real whipped cream.