Our original plan was to make yet another pilgrimage to the long tables at Gasthof Fraundorfer. It is about 80 percent of the reason we were in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, southern Bavaria. Had we checked their Website or the Michelin Red Guide we would have discovered the Fraundorfer closes each winter for a couple of weeks.
Plan B was Zugspitze Hotel's restaurant, Joseph Naus-Stub'n. At the hotel's reception desk one morning an agreeable woman booked us a table for 8pm that night. Some nine hours later we were on time, quickly relieved of coats, given a warm welcome and a choice of three tables. The place was less than half full, mostly with hearty-looking, well-dressed middle-aged couples. But it would soon fill up with a more hip, under-50, food and wine-savvy crowd; something we took as a positive sign.
The cozy room, approximately half of it raised about three steps, can accommodate perhaps 30 or 40, and is a nice mix of traditional, farm-style Bavarian, and sleek modern décor. The ceiling is blonde, carved wood, but lighting fixtures and the stylish leather banquette's are very 21st century. The service was friendly, quick, and knowledgeable throughout, though I would have preferred the German menu, as translations often bring surprises. In this case, a "corn" salad with smoked bacon, turned out to be "lambs ears" lettuce (Nüssli) in a tangy dressing sprinkled liberally with crunchy bits of bacon—which were indeed smoky—but there was not a kernel of corn in sight. The star of the evening, by a wide margin, was strips of exquisitely tender and flavorful calf's liver in a pan juice reduction. A few days earlier we had eaten liver at San Francisco's famed Tadich Grill. What we had there, however, is Friday night high school football compared to the Super Bowl. Though it's scarce in the U.S., well-prepared, top-flight liver surpasses the finest beef filet, at least in my view.
Very good, too, though not in the same "Oh, my God" league as the liver, was Piccata Milanese; four thin rounds of fine veal fried gently and quickly in an egg batter, served over decent tagliatelle, and daubs of a light tomato puree. The soggy crust gets a small quibble.
An after-dinner glass of a decent Sauterne at only €4.40 was too good a deal to pass up, and paired well with the light dessert, a small kugel of vanilla ice cream in a puddle of hot espresso. The bill for two, including two beers and four glasses or wine, €81, a bargain.