Oktoberfest is in full swing in Germany and that means there are plenty of places in Los Angeles to take part in the celebration. One of my favorite places to go for both atmosphere and food is Swiss Chef in Van Nuys. The restaurant is owned and operated by Chef Ueli, a native of Switzerland who is half German and half Swiss. He has had quite the culinary career in Los Angeles and was the proud owner of Matterhorn before it changed hands. His customers missed his food so much, Chef Ueli decided to opened Swiss Chef in 2010 to satiate the hungry bellies of his loyal customers.
My husband is part German and every once in a while his German side takes hold and demands nothing but pork, spatzle and beer. Lucky for us, we found Swiss Chef two years ago and it has become our go to spot whenever those cravings kick in.
The restaurant is located at the corner of Victory and Woodman in Van Nuys with hard to miss red awning on the outside. The minute you walk in, you feel like you've stepped into another world. There are colorful streamers hanging from the ceiling, cheerful people singing "ticki tocki, ticki tocki, oy, oy, oy!" and Chef Ueli walking around with a giant mug of beer, most likely Spaten.
The restaurant offers entertainment Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights. If you're the type who likes to join in on the fun, this is the perfect time to go. We celebrated a birthday at Swiss Chef and Chef Ueli himself stopped by to sing the birthday song while playing the accordion. It's definitely the kind of place that makes everyone feel welcomed.
You're probably wondering about the food so here it is:
Giant Bavarian pretzel
It's only customary to start with a giant Bavarian pretzel when drinking a mug of Spaten beer. The pretzel was warm, soft and sprinkled generously with salt. It was doughy on the inside with a thin crust on the outside. The pretzel was so good on it's own it doesn't even need the mustard sauce, which had a touch of sweetness. I'm not a pretzel expert, but I can tell you this is a damn good pretzel!
Split pea soup
And what's a German meal without split pea soup? I've had the soup at Anderson's and this was so much better. The texture is just right, not too thick and not too watery. You get just enough texture to be able to tell it's pea soup without tasting like it's mashed peas. There is a great pork flavor from the left over pork that's used to flavor the broth, which adds a wonderful richness to the soup.
Oktoberfest special Venison Medallions with Forest Mushrooms and Wild Boar Stew in Red Wine and Spaetzels
The star was definitely the entrees. We always get these two dishes split in half so we each get our fair share. The venison and wild boar is only available during Oktoberfest and we try to go at least twice to get our fix. The tender venison was cooked in a beautiful mushroom sauce served with carrots and pear. The melt in your mouth wild board was served with spatzel glazed in a wonderful red wine sauce served with a side of spinach and red cabbage. The acidity from the cabbage and pear helped to cut the heaviness of everything else on the plate.
And while we enjoyed our meal, the live music was playing in the background. We took breaks from stuffing our faces to join in on those ever so popular German drinking songs. It's easy to see why Chef Ueli's customers begged him to open another restaurant for the food and the great atmosphere.
***Dinner for Two Giveaway (ended)***
Swiss Chef is offering one lucky reader a Wednesday/Thursday dinner special for two in the month of October 2013. To enter, leave a comment below with your Twitter handle or email address and a note about what you enjoy most about Oktoberfest. Please submit entries by 10pm 10/2/13. Winner will be selected at random and announced on October 3rd. Good luck! The contest has ended, congrats to @LAOCFoodie!
13727 Victory Blvd Valley Glen
Van Nuys, CA 91406