Black Forest Restaurant–Nederland, Colorado

Black Forest Disappointment

Black Forest Exterior - B

I really, really wanted to like the Black Forest Restaurant in Nederland. Sadly, reality during a recent visit makes me admit that the food was a huge disappointment and both the service and ambience could use some spiffing up.

The Black Forest opened in the quiet mining town of Black Hawk in 1959 and successfully continued in that location for 42 years. When gambling arrived in Black Hawk the property gave way to a casino. Wilhelm Lorenz built a new restaurant 11 miles north in Nederland, the Black Forest home since 2000.

I think the large building has an Old World feel, as if picked up somewhere in the Alps and re-deposited in the Colorado Rockies. The Garden Room with an indoor waterfall and greenery looks toward the Continental Divide. With aspen trees immediately outside the Black Forest Waterfall - Bwindows the booths around the edge of the room almost feel like sitting in a tree house. The Hunting Room offers a more formal location for evening dining. The large Lounge must be a busy location after the nearby ski lifts close during the season.

We stopped for an early lunch the day after a busy holiday weekend; therefore, I will cut them a little slack. Some of my disappointment could be caused by shortages. Our waitress apologized for disappearing midway through our lunch saying, “They sent me to the store.” A waiter did pick up her duties while she was gone.

I ordered wiener schnitzel which the menu clearly states is a veal cutlet. I’m not an authority but would swear my blackened (not blackened in the Cajun sense but in the too long on the grill sense) meat was pork. I’ve never seen veal of that texture. The red cabbage could well have been out of a jar, nothing special or homemade in the taste. Ditto with the German potato salad, which was served cold. The bread was definitely a store bought multi-grain just like the loaf on our kitchen counter at home. Something’s wrong when the best dish of the meal is an iceberg lettuce salad with one cucumber slice and two grape tomatoes. The red onion vinaigrette dressing was nicely balanced.

Black Forest Interior - BBob found his sauerbraten acceptable. But, he’s pretty easily pleased. His potato pancake had been on the grill with my meat – too long. We had no complaints with the accompanying chunky applesauce. Bob ordered two servings of the “Homemade Ice Cream”. The molded dessert was so cold it was impossible to get more than a mere shaving at one time. While the chocolate bits added flavor there was no hint of creaminess. Our tab came to $40 + tip, too much for the quality and quantity.

Service was quirky. When we were seated the tables were set with silver pitchers of ice water. Halfway through the meal a waiter came by and picked up the pitcher – without a word and never to return. Why? This was not the case at any other table.

Much of the décor feels dated and well used. Near the door I couldn’t ignore the old movie screen and other items stowed behind a plant looking more discarded than stored. The open newspaper and glass of water on a bar table made me think the cook had probably been there only moments before. First impressions do make a difference.

When I Google “Black Forest Restaurant Nederland” I find their domain has expired. This seems indicative of the overall operation.

I do wish this Colorado tradition could live up to its potential. Soon!

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