Boerne Restaurants Serve Old-World Cuisine

When Denise Mazal and daughter Veronica opened Little Gretel on River Road last February, she dug out recipes her Czech mother developed more than 60 years ago.

“The recipes come from my family,” Denise says. “We were in the restaurant business before in Boulder, so all of our recipes have been tested pretty well. I grew up in the restaurant business with my mother, who was a chef for 60 years in Prague. Cooking is absolutely natural to me.”

Everything, she stresses, is made from scratch, whether it’s the sauerkraut – taking up to 72 hours to prepare – the spatzle (German pasta) or the bone-marrow soups.

A specialty of this German house is schnitzel, and the chef prepares it with veal at dinner and pork at lunch. “It’s done the old German way,” Denise says, seasoned and dipped in flour, egg and Viennese bread crumbs. Rather than frying, however, Denise bakes it in the oven, which gives it a clean taste. “It’s nice and crispy but much healthier because we don’t use deep fryers,” Denise says.

The schnitzel is then sauced one of four ways. Vienna Schnitzel is topped with lemon. The Jaeger Schnitzel, which is the restaurant’s most popular, is served with mushrooms sautéed in bacon fat and onion, then topped with the chef’s own demi-glace, which takes three days to make.

Rahma Schnitzel is covered with a creamy white sauce, lemon and capers, while Holstein Schnitzel comes with eggs, capers and anchovies.

“You have to finish up your schnitzel with a nice apple strudel,” Denise says. “We sell hundreds of them.” Oh, and don’t forget the beer, which is offered on tap and in bottles.

For an American turn with an Italian flair, steak is what’s for dinner, and it’s served up in style at the Tin Roof Steakhouse.

Owners Kenny and Renee McGonigle returned to Renee’s Boerne roots after Kenny grew weary of the New York rat race.

Since opening in June 2008, the restaurant has become a regional favorite, serving up a variety of flame-broiled Black Angus rib-eyes, including the Tokyo, which features a teriyaki-citrus blend and a hint of spice, the peppery (but not hot) Hill Country and the spicy Louisiana.

The prime rib – served seven days a week – is encrusted with a variety of secret spices and slow-roasted so that the flavors seep into the meat. The margarita beef kabob appetizer is marinated in a tequila-based sauce and grilled for a unique twist on the traditional beef kabob.

Kenny’s pasta dishes are a tribute to his New York days. “Our marinara is the best, it’s authentic,” he says. “There are no preservatives. And you don’t serve the sauce the day you make it. You make the sauce on Monday to serve it on Tuesday. It thickens and the flavors blend.”

It’s all washed down with Tin Roof Sangria, the recipe for which came from a Moroccan friend of Kenny’s. The apples, lemons and limes are steeped with the liquors for at least 24 hours, and then orange juice and wine are added.

Service is casual at the Tin Roof Steakhouse. “We want to cater to people who want a really great steak but who don’t want to dress in a suit,” Kenny says.

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