Restaurant Review: Laschet’s Inn

As you know, I love my German heritage! And what better way to celebrate it than with a good German beer and good German food. With that in mind, I’ve decided to dedicate a portion of my blog to German Restaurant Reviews! For the first few, I’ll write about some local Chicago places, but then I’ll need your help! I can’t travel all over the US searching for the best German Food (unless the Travel Channel would like to pay me to do so… hint hint ūüėČ Anyway, so if you have a favorite German place, click here to learn how to get your review up on the Rare Dirndl blog!

My first review is of Laschet’s Inn! (yes, I know, kinda a cop-out since I worked there for a year and a half‚Ķ but this is my honest to goodness review!) Laschet’s is located at 2119 W. Irving Park Road in Chicago, between Western Ave. and Damen. I went there for dinner on a Saturday night with my sister and her boyfriend and 2 other good friends. We had a reservation, which I highly recommend making, if you want to go there on a Friday or Saturday night. The atmosphere is warm and cozy! There are lots of wood and old school German decor (some of it is actually 30+ years old!) It’s very comfortable, even on a Saturday when the waitstaff is running around and it’s really busy.

The menu is extensive and includes a large selection of appetizers, sandwiches & salads, entrees and daily specials. On Saturday the special is the Pork Shank and Königsberger Klopse. The shank was already sold out (not unusual since we sat down for dinner at 7:45 and usually they sell out by 7pm).

We started out with our favorite apps, Hackepeter (wonderful and fresh German-style steak tartar) and the Buffalo Wings. Now, I know what your thinking‚Ķ “really, Erika? Chicken wings at a German place?” Um‚Ķ YA!!! They are hands down the best wings I’ve ever had. They serve the wings with the bleu cheese and wing sauce on the side, so the wings come out, they are hot, crispy and AHmazing!! The Hackepeter was also really delicious! It’s served with capers & onions, and we like to dump them out into the center, drizzle some Maggi (Germany’s version of soy sauce) over the pile and then smash the little Hackepeters in it so each bite has some capers & onions‚Ķ YUMO!

To drink, I had the Weinstephaner Vitus! It’s one of my favs, so I get very excited when it’s on draft. Laschet’s has 12 different German beers on tap at all times. There are some that stay pretty constant, but for the most part it changes weekly. The Vitus is a strong weiss bier or wheat beer. It’s got a different taste then a typical weiss bier, like hackerschorr weiss, and I think it’s smoother as well.

For an entree, I went with the Mushroom Goulash. I love that dish because its really unique and yummy. It has 3 different kinds of mushrooms (white, shitake and portabella) mixed with onions in a buttery balsamic sauce. It is served with Sp√§tzle and red cabbage. The Sp√§tzle is made in house and then seared on the flat top, so it’s a little crunchy and soooo delicious. The red cabbage is good, but it’s a tad tart for my taste, so I usually don’t eat too much of it, just a bite here and there. The entree also comes with your choice of soup or salad and I went with the salad with bleu cheese dressing. They use a combination of dressing and bleu cheese crumbles‚Ķ its really really yummy! (If you like bleu cheese that is.)

My sister Monika has a gluten allergy, so she can’t have a lot of wheat, so she opted for the Potato Pancake appetizer (which has 2 potato pancakes the size of your head, so it’s more than enough food) with a side salad, with hot bacon vinaigrette, yes hot bacon (its a warm sweet dressing with pieces of bacon in it, very popular and yummy) and a cup of the Goulash Soup.

Mark had the Goulash Dinner, which is one of his favorites! It’s a spicy beef stew packed with paprika and other spices served with Sp√§tzle and red cabbage.

And Alex had his favorite, Chicken Schnitzel with a fried egg on top. This dish is typically served with Roasted Potatoes and your choice of sauerkraut or red cabbage, but he opted for double potatoes.

It was such a wonderful dinner! We had a great time talking, laughing and enjoying our good German food. Our waitress, Cookie, was wonderful and made sure to check on us even though we were in the very back corner of the restaurant.
The last great thing about Laschet’s Inn is the “complimentary after dinner Schnapps!” Your choice of apple, cherry-peach, or Obstler (a strong apple-pear brandy that has no apple or pear flavor‚Ķ but it’s one of my favs,) so we ended our meal with a “Prost”. I would most definitely return to Laschet’s‚Ķ and I do, whether it’s for dinner or just drinks, I end up there at least once a month.

Do you have a favorite German restaurant and want to share it with the Rare Dirndl community? Click here to get all the details about how your thoughts can make it on this blog!

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Rare Dirndls on the Mancow Show!?

Samantha, myself and Nikki in the Mancow Studio

Yesterday morning I got my lil booty out of bed at 4:45am to get ready to head down to Michigan Avenue for the taping of the Mancow Morning Show. After leaving the taping of the show, my best friend Nikki, assistant Samantha, and I all looked at each other… laughed and said, “What just the F* just happened? Was that real?” Let’s back track and bit and start this craziness from the beginning.

Last Friday (about a week ago) Jason, the owner and chef at Bauer’s Brauhaus in Palatine, IL called me up and said that they were going to feature the restaurant on the Mancow Morning Show. (my first thought was “Mancow has a morning show?” but then I remembered reading about it in one of my favorite blogs, A Drink With) Anyway‚Ķ Jason then asked if I wanted to get some girls together wearing Rare Dirndls, and go on the show with him. Naturally, I said, “Sure!!”

Mancow during the show

Over the course of the next week (so this past week), I did a little Mancow Muller research, so I could prepare myself for his questions, comments etc. ¬†Let’s just say, there was no amount of prepping I could have done to properly prepare me for this experience.

So back to yesterday morning… Nikki, Samantha and myself got down to the building (which I guess has most of the Fox studios in it‚Ķ not quite sure) we walked in and the marketing director from Bauer’s Brauhaus met us in the studio lobby and showed us to the dressing room and then onto the Green Room. Not 3 minutes after we walked into the Green Room and sat down, this LIVE camera comes in and puts our faces on TV. Naturally we just smiled and once the cameraman went into the other room, we looked at each other in disbelief, this was no ordinary morning talk show. A few minutes later a member of Mancow’s team brought us into the studio and told us to stand in a space with a microphone and just look at Mancow, pretend that we are comfortable, look natural, smile and blow kisses at the cameras‚Ķ this is the only information we were given.

In the Mancow Studio!

From there it just got crazier. First thing everyone says to me as we walk into the studio was “Hey! You look like Taylor Swift” Mancow asked me if I was from Bauer’s Brauhaus, and since I felt that I was there partly to represent the restaurant, I said yes‚Ķ he then asked me if I brought food, to which I replied “No, I make dirndls” “OH! You make the drindles?! Cool” and then he moved on. (and you, you read that right‚Ķ the dreaded Drindle‚Ķ one of my biggest pet peaves, but what was I gonna do? Say “excuse me Mr. Mancow, but its Dirndl, not Drindle‚Ķ it’s a Bavarian style dress, not a toy you spin around on Hanukah”)

The beautiful spread of food provided by Bauer’s Brauhaus

He did an interview with Dov Davidoff (he’s pretty funny comedian who has been on Chelsea Lately) and all of a sudden Mancow straight up asks him which one of us he thinks is the cutest‚Ķ really Mancow, really!? However, I totally figured that something like that was going to happen. I was mostly impressed with Dov’s answer! He said, with sincerity “maybe if I had 5 minutes to talk to them and get to know them a little bit, I could make an accurate decision!” Then Mancow made fun of him and made the camera man point it right at Nikki. Honestly, we were treated with respect in the studio by all of the members of the Mancow team, but the actual broadcast was offensive, since cameras were mostly on our chests and not our faces. Not to mention it was difficult to talk about Rare Dirndl when Mancow was a bit busy talking about himself and playing clips from the past that were disturbing and disgusting.

The Leopard Dirndl

I knew anytime Mancow was directing questions at me, I had to just play along with the 150% unscripted chaos that was going on. I could go on and on about the ridiculousness that took place yesterday, from the girl named “Amanda Bynes” coming to co-host monday’s show wearing the teeniest dress with a tiger face on it and making that goofy kiss lip duck face to the camera, to having a wacky Michael Meyers-eque mannequin behind me, or listening to Mancow rant about the Coke commercial from the Super Bowl for a solid 5 min and listening to a man (who told us he was Simon Kirke, drummer from the band Bad Company) tell us about his 2 pet tigers! Seriously‚Ķ it was an experience I’ll never forget, but can hardly believe!

Hopefully someone out there who watches the Mancow Morning show likes some of my designs enough to check out my website‚Ķ highly unlikely, but you never know. Thanks to Jason for inviting us. And thanks to the lovely man who took my business card and said he would call me soon so we can go back on the show… probably not going to happen‚Ķ I’ll wait for a call from Ellen ūüėČ

Like what we were wearing on the show? Here are links to the online store and Spring/Summer promo video where you can check out the dirndl Samantha is wearing (coming soon!)

Erika (me) is wearing the “Pit and the Pendulum” Dirndl with the Black & Beige Hat
Nikki is wearing the top selling Leopard Dirndl
Samantha is wearing the Wildflower Dirndl

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For the Love of Germany, this is a Busy Week!!

Somehow this week has suddenly become one of the busiest weeks I’ve ever had! I’m working like crazy getting all the production for Spring/Summer in motion and sewing custom orders, but an opportunity presented itself and I took it‚Ķ I’m heading to NYC baby! Today (Tuesday) and Wednesday, I’ll be in New York sourcing fabric and taking a few seminars on textiles, marketing, production etc. I’m so exited to experience the d.g. expo for the first time, but I’m also a tad nervous‚Ķ but I’m not one to back down because of nerves (for the most part ūüėČ

The 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi start on Thursday this week and I’m soooo excited. I love watching the Olympics, maybe because I have no athletic abilities and I find every aspect of the events fascinating and incredibly impressive. I love hearing all the athletes back stories and learning where they come from. As an American I gotta root for Team USA, but all that aside, I love to cheer on countries like Germany, Austria and Switzerland! My ancestors are from Germany, my grandparents lived in Austria for a few years and my boyfriend’s dad is from Switzerland so we cheer for them all!! GO TEAMS!

And then on Friday‚Ķ I’ll be accompanying Jason Bauer, chef and owner of Bauer’s Brauhaus on the Mancow Morning show! Myself, Samantha and my bf Nikki will be sporting our Rare Dirndls on TV. So, we will be on MY50 Chicago between 6-8am on Friday morning! Can’t believe it!

What a crazy busy week! But you better believe that for all these events, I’ll be wearing Rare Dirndl items all week. For the dg expo, I’m bringing my accessories like lederhosen bracelets and scarves. For the Olympics I’ll be sporting my Germany scarf and maybe the In Bloom Dirndl in Germany colors and then on Friday, for the Mancow show, I can’t decide between “The Raven” Dirndl or “The Pit & The Pendulum” Dirndl‚Ķ you’ll have to watch and find out what I wear!

 Ever wonder which dirndl style you are? Click here to take out quiz and find out now! 

3 Great German Inspired Christmas Gift Ideas under $100!

Christmas is a wonderful time of year, but finding the perfect gift for those who love all things German might be difficult at times. I’ve got three great gifts ideas (under $100 from a variety of online stores) for just those people! And you might find something for yourself along the way…

#1. Jewelry- love a little Deutsches bling!

My 1st pick is from German Import House. The Edelweiss 3pc set includes a necklace, earrings and a bracelet and is $39.00. I love this set because it can be worn altogether or one piece at a time. The antique finish gives the pieces a vintage look and would look great with any outfit!

Edelweiss 3pc set

My 2nd pick is from the Schnitzel Shop. The German Flag glass pendant is a fun little gift with Sprechen Sie Deutsch on it. Only $12.00, it’s a more casual necklace that would look great with a t-shirt and jeans.

German Flag glass pendant

#2. Leather- Not just about the lederhosen anymore

My 1st pick in this category is a Rare lederhosen bracelet! The Lederhosen Bracelet with Buckle is an adjustable leather cuff style bracelet that goes easily with any outfit. Made from lederhosen, this piece is soft, comfortable and only $20.00. It’s the most popular of the lederhosen bracelets and I can see why!

The Lederhosen Bracelet with Buckle

My 2nd pick is the Square Lederhosen Purse. This purse is made from goat skin lederhosen and is a fabulous way to give a nod to your love for Germany with an accessory. At $94.00, this purse has a braided and buckle strap, button closure and functional outside pockets. Measuring approximately 15in x 12in and fully lined, this item is one of my all time favorites.

Square Lederhosen Purse

#3. Beer Stein- Classic gift for the man in your life!

My 1st pick in this category is this Stein depicting the Oktoberfest Clydesdale and Beer Wagon from Northcote Imports. I love this one because it has an antique look to it and trimming on the top includes edelweiss, pretzels and wurst! It holds 0.4 liters of beer and is $79.95.

Oktoberfest Clydesdale and Beer Wagon

My last pick is a different style glass mug from 1001 Beer The Glass Deutschland Beer Stein is $88.99 and features the fabulous colors of the German flag and pewter embossed appliqué depicting the German eagle. It holds 0.4 liters and is a really unique stein for anyone!

Glass Deutschland Beer 
So there you have it… 3 Great German inspired gift ideas and my top 2 picks in each category! Fr√∂hliche Weihnachten everyone!

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A Dash of Morning Perspective

Lets back track to last night… I got an online order from Germany for a dirndl that I just sold last weekend, so I was a bit frustrated because now I didn’t have the dirndl in stock. Christian then looks over at me and says “can’t you make another one?” “well, ya… but”. Then he says to me “Isn’t getting online orders a good thing? You should be super excited!” He was right!!! DUH!! I’ve got this dirndl going to Germany, so I guess I’m going back to the sewing machine next week!
Red Piranha Dirndl

Now on to this morning, as I drive from my apartment to work (at my parents house) I’m listening to the Eric and Kathy 36hr Radiothon and I heard a story about a little boy with a malignant brain tumor who passed away in 1995. He would have been 19 this year. This story hit me because… I am 25, a designer and business owner, and I am having a Grand (ish) Opening this weekend of my own studio space, and in 1996, it could have been over.

In December of 1996 my parents called 911 during the night because I was having a seizure. After 2 MRIs and finding nothing, my pediatrician pushed for one more MRI… and there it was, a brain tumor. Only about the size of a marble, but when your 10yr old has a brain tumor, for my parents it didn’t matter how big it was… only that it was there. After surgery in January of 1997, Dr. Ruge took out the tumor and it turned out to be benign. Besides some anti seizure meds and regular MRIs… that tumor had met its match.¬†
Playing Dr a few weeks after surgery

Listening to the stories on the radio this morning just got me thinking about how lucky I was and still am. I have worked so hard for what I have, but at the same time… those around me have supported me from the time I was (somewhat hairless) and making rocks into dolls with my hot glue gun, to today making modern edgy dirndls for people all over the world. People thought I was crazy then… well I haven’t changed!

My latest crazy idea… from start to finish
This isn’t about making you support the radiothon, this isn’t to try and make you feel bad for me that I had a tumor, this is just me writing because I thought it was important for me to put it out into the universe that I am happy to be alive and so excited to invite everyone to see the studio this weekend.¬†
Happy German Day Weekend!!!

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Finished with the Facade!

Yesterday was very exciting because when I came home… the facade was finished! My little Bavarian style front is complete! Can’t wait to put out a flower box next year… and maybe re-paint the shutters so they stand out a bit more.¬†
5051 N. Lincoln Ave!

¬†The inside is ready for some paint and finishing! Before the German Day Festivities, the floor will be finished, walls and ceiling painted and some custom cabinetry will be installed by the front window. I’ve decided (along with my studio/boutique contracting advisor… aka dad) that those three things will take the entire month of August to complete considering he has a full time job and I still have orders to fill. I’m very excited about the space and have come to terms with the fact that it is realistically going to take until 2013 to complete.

Facing Lincoln Ave

Looking in from the front door. 
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