– Voracious column by Allan Reid
The closing or Sidney’s Bistro Suisse in 2019 has left many Victorians craving a good piece of schnitzel. Enter Eva Schnitzelhaus, located at the bottom of Chinatown, the newest dining establishment in a space that formerly hosted the Rain Dogs Wine Bar, Ola Restaurant and, before them, Ulla Restaurant. It’s been a succession of fine dining establishments. Open just three months, Eva Schnitzelhaust is already attracting considerable attention. I visited with my husband, Dennis, for whom schnitzel is a passion. (He turns out a mighty fine schnitzel, himself.)
We planned to visit on a Saturday, and calling to reserve our table the day before, we were offered the choice of a 4:15 or 9:30 pm seating. Neither was preferable, but at least 4:15 wouldn’t send us to bed with full bellies. We were not quite the first customers, and still had our choice of tables. By the time our food arrived—a commendably short time—the place was full. When asked, Cole, our lively and sociable waiter admitted that the place—which is open Wednesdays through Sundays starting at 4 pm—bustles every day, so it’s a good plan to plan well ahead.
A pair of high arched windows encased in the brick façade brighten a honied oak and brick interior accented with black trim. A black curtain hides the kitchen. High-top oak tables line two black banquettes, a row of five stools are set out at the full service bar and there are a few standard height tables for those of us who prefer to keep our feet on the floor. A collection of beer steins and several Swiss-German photos, paintings and posters finish the decor.
The menu is equally to the point. Eight quite German “snacks,” (pretzel, currywurst, Limburger), five entrées for folks who aren’t in the mood for schnitzel (raclette, herring, pork cheeks) and, of course, the schnitzel.
We came for schnitzel. Schweineschnitzel, which is to say swine schnitzel or pork. No veal here. And it is served three ways: classic, with lemon; with a mustard-cream sauce; or as Jagerschnitzel, which is the classic topped with a mushroom sauce.
We started with Bread and Butter ($5): a dense and flavourful seeded rye bread sliced thin and served with a tub of real butter (not whipped). Dennis ordered the Classic Schweineschnitzel ($26), while I ordered the Jagerschnitzel ($30). The menu also offers a choice among five “sides,” from which two can be selected at no extra charge. We both opted for the red cabbage and the spaetzle. Mere moments later, our feast arrived. A massive sprawl of delicately breaded meat covering most of the plate, red cabbage and spaetzle peaking out from underneath.
Good schnitzel should be thin: an eighth inch or less (otherwise it’s a cutlet), and this is good schnitzel. Tender, cooked through, and the crust golden brown and well-seasoned. The sides, too, are exceptional. The red cabbage was sweet and buttery, and the spaetzle (a form of dumpling made by pouring the liquid through a sieve, dripping it into boiling water to create small curds) was lightly fried and buttery. Both are among the best I’ve tasted. Unfortunately, the mushroom sauce was not as earthy-mushroomy as I would like. Perhaps a few more varieties of mushrooms, and a tad less salt would help.
Apple Cake with Caramel Sauce ($11) finished our meal. This is a fine cake ample for sharing, but I miss the cool texture of integral apple slices. Still, if you have been craving schnitzel, Eva is the place to be.
509 Fisgard St. Victoria | 250 590 4590