Review: Naschmarkt’s delicious blend of Austrian, Californian flavors

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Serving traditional spicy bratwurst to authentic soufflés, Naschmarkt, an Austrian restaurant, soft-opened Tuesday in the California Avenue neighborhood with its delicious yet expensive flavors, replacing Anatolian Kitchen’s Turkish cuisine.

Located at the corner of Birch Street and Cambridge Avenue, the restaurant features brick walls, one lined from top to bottom with a wine rack. The elegant, modern ambiance is displayed through upside-down wine glasses hanging from a ceiling rack over the miniature bar. According to owner Dino Tekdemir, Naschmarkt’s emphasis on Austrian food is its most appealing aspect to Palo Alto residents as the community displays high interest for this cuisine.

“The reason that we wanted to produce and present over here is because there is a lot of demand in Palo Alto for this type of cuisine,” Tekdemir said. “It’s a very unique menu with very unique dishes, so I think it’s hard to find a restaurant like us.”

Manager Juan Gutierrez said the expansion to this location from Naschmarkt’s original Campbell location was fairly unplanned, but ended up being a delightful surprise.

“What happened was Dino [the owner] fell in love so much with what we were doing in Campbell that he just wanted to transfer everything that we were doing over there over here and offer it to this community,” Gutierrez said. “We have a team that is magical, and it’s very easy to work with each other because we’ve been working together for such a long time.”

As displayed on Naschmarkt’s website, the Palo Alto location only serves dinner, along with a dessert and extensive wine menu. For vegetarians and vegans, options are limited — the four items under ‘Soups & Salads’ are the only choices for dinner. Head chef of both the Palo Alto and Campbell locations Carlos Morales said the most popular dishes represent the authenticity of the restaurant’s cuisine.

“The two quintessential dishes that you have to have if you’ve never had this cuisine are the classic wiener schnitzel and the bratwurst,” Morales said. “It’s very comfort, Sunday grandma food. We also have some adaptations to our menu, especially in our different locations now. For example, now in the summer we have our traditional spring rabbit, but in the fall and wintertime we’ve changed it to either duck or goose.”

In terms of service, the waitstaff was extremely kind and attentive during our visit. They brought warm, fresh bread with a side of butter. A popular non-alcoholic drink they recommended were Austrian sodas, which came in a variety of unique flavors including elderflower, black currant and lingonberry, and were served in a glass mug with a reusable metal straw. The clean cutlery and plating complemented the formal atmosphere of the restaurant. 

The restaurant caters to patrons of all ages, from families with young kids to elder people with its menu options. Even considering inflation, however, the prices are relatively expensive, especially in comparison to the street-food version of Austrian cuisine.

According to Tekdemir, based on how the opening has gone so far, Naschmarkt is looking forward to serving a wider variety of customers with the same staff in its new location.

“We have the same chef, same managers and same staff balancing between the Campbell and Palo Alto location, which is just amazing,” Tekdemir said. “The comments about the food, the people, all the dishes, we just really love it just as much as they do.”

We sat down for dinner at Naschmarkt Tuesday evening, and this is what we found:

Spicy Paprika Bratwurst – $17 – (8/10)

The bratwurst is a traditional appetizer, served with sliced German, chili-red sausage on a bed of sauerkraut with caramelized onions on top, paired with a large dollop of spicy mustard on the side. Surprisingly, the mustard was creamy but had a strong kick, leaving the sauerkraut and onions to balance the spice of the mustard and bratwurst. However, a bit too much sauerkraut was added to the sausage, and the onions and sauerkraut were not truly distinct from one another. Despite the high price, we’d recommend this delectable, flavor-packed dish.

Chilled Cucumber-Avocado Soup – $15 – (7/10)

The Chilled Cucumber-Avocado Soup, one of the few meatless dishes on the menu, consisted of cucumber, avocado and Greek yogurt and was topped with a sprinkle of black garlic bread crumbs. Creamy, tangy, pistachio green and slightly sweet, the soup was refreshing, beautifully plated in small teacups. A nice palate cleanser before the main course, but again, a little more on the expensive side.

Jäger Schnitzel – $38 – (8.5/10)

Naschmarkt’s traditional Jäger Schnitzel is a pork schnitzel braised in a mushroom cream sauce with a side of broccolini and garlic confit. The schnitzel arrived with a large bowl of spätzle, an Austrian egg pasta typically served aside meat dishes, allowing a taste of another authentic dish along with the main course. The chewier texture of the schnitzel balanced well with the creaminess of the sauce and the freshness of the quartered mushrooms. The main course was a delicious balance of flavors and consistencies, but a bit too much sauce and the abundance of mushrooms drowned out some of the flavor of the schnitzel itself. The spä was generously served, rich, and well-seasoned, making the overall dish very tasty.

Salzburger Nockerl – $12 – (8/10) 

Recommended by the manager as the quintessential Austrian dessert, the Salzburger Nockerl is an Austrian vanilla souffle. It was brought hot from the oven in a ceramic dish, sprinkled with powdered sugar and served with a small side scoop of vanilla gelato with blueberry coulis. The souffle was fluffy and light, but the coulis was necessary to balance out the sweetness of the souffle. The creamy coolness of the gelato created a wonderful melting pot of flavor to the dish.