Searching for the Missing Links...
There were men wearing lederhosen while om-pah-pah music floated through the air and tourists sipped on stout steins of beer. This must be Germany, right?
No, it’s the Bavarian Village of Leavenworth in Washington, a favorite destination for Seattlites looking to get out of town and up in the mountains or float down the pristine Wenatchee River. Me? I came looking for links. Seemed fitting since my summer has been a regular sausage-o-rama.
First, I worked as a brat jockey at Shultzy’s near the University of Washington. Then, there was the great hunt for the best boudin in Cajun Country. So, when I traveled to a family reunion in Leavenworth, I carved out one day dedicated to the mission of eating German sausage for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. A worthy goal, don’t you think?
Early one morning, before heading up the Hatchery Creek trail into the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, I hit Sandy’s Waffle and Dinner Haus. The homey café has been around for 20 years in a converted Thai restaurant space. The whole-wheat waffle and German sausage with one egg overeasy is my standard order when I'm in Leavenworth. It doesn’t disappoint. The juicy link is extra peppery and I just love having a plate that’s brimming with three types of syrup, as well as a healthy squirt of mustard.
Nothing stokes the appetite for lunch like a hike in the woods. The gorgeous Cascade Mountains framing this picturesque valley give heft to the whole Alps flavor of the tiny town. Trudging up, up, up the trail, my brother and my hubby constantly teased me about the random noises we’d hear. Was it a rattlesnake? A bear? A cougar? Oh my.
OK, I'm outta here. Get me to the Munchen Haus, an outdoor beer garden with an all-sausage, all-the-time menu. I just loved the Big Bob, a fat, pure pork bratwurst finished on the grill, washed down with a chilly pint of Hofbrau Munchen. But my favorite thing about the Munchen Haus is the DIY condiment bar: a dozen different types of mustard, sweet and dill pickle relish, chopped onions, sauerkraut simmered in cider.
After lunch, I strolled past the souvenir shops and the ice cream parlors to check out the town’s new salumeria. Cured is owned by the same folks who run Visconti's, the popular Italian restaurant upstairs. This old-fashioned butcher shop processes steaks and chops featured on Visconti’s menu, as well as making their own smoked brats. Very cool. I'll take a half dozen of those, please.
We cooked those links on the grill at my brother’s house and served 'em up alongside corn as sweet as candy from my sister’s garden. Yah!
The next morning, I woke up hungry for more. So, before leaving town, I stopped at the excellent Cheesemonger and loaded up on some spicy links to take back to the city. Funny thing is, the best sausage makers in the Northwest (Bavarian Meats) are right here in Seattle. Es ist gut!
By the way, Leavenworth has a kick-booty Oktoberfest. Lederhosen are, of course, optional.
Sandy’s Waffle and Dinner Haus
894 US Highway 2, Leavenworth WA 98826 (map)
709 Front Street, Leavenworth WA 98826 (map)
636 Front Street, Leavenworth WA 98826 (map)
819 Front Street, Leavenworth WA 98826 (map)
About the author: Leslie Kelly is the former restaurant critic for The Seattle Post-Intelligencer who has been working in professional kitchens since the newspaper folded, writing about her Critic-Turned-Cook experiences for Serious Eats.