It's a cold and rainy afternoon when we push our way into Colby Ale House, and I immediately decide it's the perfect place for such weather. A welcome fireplace surrounded by soft seating, plenty of wood and brass to give a distinct European air, and large comfy booths all serve to drive the chill from the air.
The menu is full of typical pub offerings, but we go straight to the German specialties, about which I've been hearing a lot.
German food is not exactly light fare, but it's perfect for warming bellies and souls on this miserable day.
Along with other on-tap beer, there is a wonderful variety of German beers including Holstein, Warsteiner, Dab and Konig. (And my personal favourite, Becks.)
It's not long before our orders arrive, and I'm surprised our server manages to carry everything out in one shot.
Jaeger schnitzel ($14.95) is a pork cutlet as big as a dinner plate, breaded, then fried. The brown sauce is redolent with mushrooms, bacons and onions---a classic hunter sauce ("jaeger" is hunter). On the side, there's a huge mountain of spaetzle---a little egg noodle so loved by Germans as a side dish. Fresh spaetzle is made by forcing batter through a perforated pan into boiling water, where the batter puffs and floats, then is drained and tossed on a hot pan in butter and served.
That method is very time-consuming, and not practical for this environment; this pub is using dried spaetzle. No puffiness, but tasty nonetheless, especially when cooked with bacon as this one is. The pork is tender, with the crispy bread-coating holding up under the rich sauce quite nicely.
Bratwurst on sauerkraut with German fried potato ($8.95) is the second entree we're trying. Two huge sausages sit atop what's got to be a couple of cabbages worth of sauerkraut, with an equally impressive portion of potatoes that have been pan-fried with plenty of butter, bacon and onion.
I love the bratwurst: it's the bratbest (sorry, couldn't resist). And the potatoes are great as well; but I do wish the sauerkraut was a little more vinegary. It's pretty mild, and German cuisine is full of big, bold flavours.
Our third entree is spaetzle with bratwurst slices, mushrooms and onions ($9.95). The monster bowl is plunked down on the table, already groaning under the weight of the other two plates.
This is a little bit greasy, but again, when something is tossed in butter and bacon, it's to be expected. Once again, the flavour outweighs any grease concerns.
All of the food is delicious and authentic, reminiscent of the gasthauses I stayed in while touring Bavaria. But then again, with onions and bacon playing such a large role, how could it taste anything but?
We barely make it halfway through our plates and opt to take the rest home (where, I might add, the spaetzle made for a hearty breakfast).
There's nothing too exciting on the dessert menu, but as our server is raving about the lemon meringue pie, we decide to split that.
In keeping with the rest of the portion sizes, the slab of lemon meringue pie ($3.95) is huge---easily a quarter of the whole pie. It's not made here, but it's delicious and tangy. We barely manage to clean the plate before making our way home for naps.