Old World flavors and style at the Kaiserhof in Ocean Beach
Photos and Story By Kelley Carlson
In the funky seaside community of Ocean Beach sits Kaiserhof, a restaurant more typical of a Bavarian village, with its green shutters featuring wooden tree cutouts and a fence that wraps around the roof. The family-owned establishment is based in a sunny yellow cottage along Sunset Cliffs Boulevard.
Inside is classic European décor – arched entryways, paintings of stately castles and crests that represent the different states of Germany and even a few cuckoo clocks. (Only one clock operates regularly, to avoid driving the customers cuckoo.) A fireplace and gilded mirrors further add to the charm and elegance.
For an experience that’s more casual, there’s a biergarten and bar in the back — the place to take advantage of happy hour specials. There are plenty of festive touches, from the lights strung above to the signs advertising beverages such as Erdinger and Killepitsch, and clocks that track the time in Munich and Ocean Beach.
The mood is often mellow, enhanced by “natural” sounds from a bubbling fountain and whistling cockatiels, or occasionally classical music. But at times it’s lively, as patrons get into high spirits with beer drinking tunes and women in dirndls (traditional German dresses) make the rounds.
Fridays through Sundays, many guests kick back with flights of brew samples (with varieties like the Paulaner Pils, Kaiserhof Kölsch, ‘Vitus’ Weihenstephaner Weizenbock and ‘Korbinian’ Weihenstephaner Dopplebock) and snack on breads and pretzels.
The authenticity of the dining experience carries over to the cuisine, created from family recipes. There’s the juicy-fleshed Roast Duck with wine-based Madeira sauce on a bed of apples and raisins, which can be paired with sides such as potato pancake and the pickled red cabbage. Or there’s the Venison Medallions cut from New Zealand Roe deer in a creamy peppercorn sauce with brandy and Pfifferlinge mushrooms, complemented with sides such as Spätzle (homemade German noodles), broccoli and a poached pear dressed with lingonberries.
Chef/owner Peter Bolter, whose family has owned and operated Kaiserhof since it opened more than 30 years ago, cites among his favorites the Sea Schnitzel, made with calamari; and the Rostbraten, a steak covered with fried onions and au jus.
Sunset dinners are offered 5-6:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday; entrée options include Baked Meat Loaf with a mushroom-wine sauce and Kasehahnchen, a cheese-coated chicken breast with paprika sauce.
And there is also a special menu for children with selections such as Knackwurst and Honey-Dipped Fried Chicken.
Many people find the portions at Kaiserhof are quite sizable, but those who still have room for dessert may choose from confections such as the house-made Apple Strudel and Black Forest Cake.
To fully experience Kaiserhof, Bolter recommends sitting in the biergarten. “There’s more options,” he explained, as diners in that section can order items from any menu. Those in the dining room are restricted to the dinner menu.
Kaiserhof Restaurant & Biergarten
Address: 2253 Sunset Cliffs Blvd., Ocean Beach
Phone: (619) 224-0606
The Vibe: Upscale casual, elegant, classic
Signature Dishes: Wiener Schnitzel, Roast Duck, Venison Medallions, Homemade Bratwurst
Open Since: 1980 (in current location since 1992)
Patio Seating: Yes
Happy Hour: 4-7 p.m. Tuesday-Friday
Hours: Lunch 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday-Sunday; Dinner 5 p.m. to close Tuesday-Sunday
On The Menu Recipe
Each week you’ll find a recipe from the featured restaurant online at lajollalight.com. Just click Get The Recipe at the bottom of the story. This week: Kaiserhof’s Goulash Soup
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