Entering the dining room of Olga's Swiss & German Restaurant transports you to a Swiss chalet with German music playing softly in the background. But that's just the beginning of the cross-cultural experience, as the menu presents an impressive array of dishes from both countries.
We started our meal in Switzerland, with an appetizer of raclette ($6.25)--melted Fontana cheese served with boiled potatoes, cornichons, pearl onions and French bread. Swiss cheese fondue ($10.25) is also an option for a main course if you can't get enough of the rich cheesy dip. We also tried the goulash soup ($2.95), which was recommended by our waitress. It was hearty and thick with hunks of beef, although I found it to be slightly oversalted.
We were favorably impressed with the bernerplatte ($9.95), a combination of sausages--bratwurst (pork), weisswurst (veal) and knockwurst (beef)--and smoked pork loin with delicious fresh house-made sauerkraut. The subtly spiced weisswurst was the clear favorite for my boyfriend (although the extensive quality selection of the German beer was probably a close second).
If I had to pick my favorite dish it would be the Norwegian salmon with dill butter sauce ($12.95)--a good-sized portion of fish in lemon butter and white wine sauce. Though it was difficult to choose among the veal entrees, we settled on the paprika schnitzel ($14.95)--veal scaloppine with a paprika cream sauce. Each of the dinners came with a choice of two of the following side orders: sauerkraut, red cabbage, spaetzle, potato dumplings (wonderful rolled-up mashed potatoes), roesti (hash browns), German potato salad, cole slaw, apple sauce or French fries. The sauerkraut is a must, but then I would say the same for the red cabbage (wonderfully fresh with a hint of vinegar and brown sugar) and the spaetzle (egg noodles sauteed in butter).
For dessert we tried two of Olga's house-made delicacies--the apple strudel and the German chocolate cake ($2.95 each). The strudel was covered in a sabayon sauce (marsala wine with whipped cream), worth every calorie. The German chocolate cake was rich and quite divine.
Tuesday through Friday, Olga's also offers a full lunch menu and a lunch buffet ($7.95), offering a variety of those delicious sausages (reason enough for me to opt for the buffet), chicken curry and pork schnitzel, just to name a few. Other lunch specials include meatloaf sandwiches and lamb curry.
Olga Zosso, who opened her restaurant 10 years ago, says she still cooks each meal herself. She also caters functions from weddings to private luncheon parties.
We will return for the atmosphere and delicious food--and because eventually I will have to figure out which sausage is my favorite!
Olga's Swiss & German Restaurant, 8319 Old Branch Ave., Clinton, Md. 20733; call 301-599-7629. Tuesday-Friday, 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and 5 p.m.-10 p.m.; Saturday, 5 p.m.-10 p.m. Closed Sunday and Monday. Dinners from $8.95-$17.95; lunches from $4-$12; lunch buffet ($7.95) available Tuesday-Friday, 11 a.m.-2 p.m.
CAPTION: Olga Zosso with her sauerbraten, left, and bernerplatte, a selection of sausages and smoked pork loin.