Petra and Andreas Lehmann took the restaurant over this past April, and have proceeded to make the place their own. Bright, open, and meticulously kept, you already feel welcome the second you step through the door. Originally from Rietberg, Germany, this is the Lehmann’s first restaurant experience, but Andreas has been in love with cooking since 1996, when he started working on the recipes he inherited from his grandmother. Now he works the restaurant’s kitchen, while Petra works at the front, greeting and serving everyone who comes through their door. The love of cooking runs in their family, with both of Andreas’ parents having restaurants. Petra’s mother also worked in a restaurant.
With polite hospitality and brisk service, they seem to have taken to the business very quickly. As for how they came to settle in our little corner of southwest Florida and make the Schnitzel House their own, It was a case of love at first sight.
“Our first time, we visited this area for our honeymoon, and my husband said that he loved Florida, and that we must come over here and make something,” Petra said. They now live here in Florida with their youngest daughter. The two eldest daughters work back in Germany. “We just loved it here. The people are so friendly.”
Their exploits here in Florida have also caught the attention of German Television, as their efforts at taking over the management of the Schnitzel House have been featured on “Goodbye Deutschland” this past summer.
The specialty of the house, of course, is schnitzel, and they do it right. I ordered the Jager Schnitzel on my visit there, and it excelled my expectations. What I got was a generously portioned and tender piece of breaded pork loin that was covered, but not smothered, in rich and delicious mushroom and onion sauce. The thin, fried exterior provided a wonderful contrast to the juicy interior, with neither intruding on the other’s character.
If the dozen and a half other ways they serve up Schnitzel were as well done as this, I wouldn’t hesitate to call this ‘pork loin heaven.’ Their menu goes beyond that, giving patrons the option to enjoy each of the dishes as chicken or veal.
A variety of sides are offered with each meal, and for this dish I chose two time-tested German offerings: spatzle and red cabbage. I’ve long loved spatzle, and their presentation of it here did it justice. Firm yet soft, the rough noodles added a hearty note to the meal. The red cabbage also impressed. Of all the aspects of German cuisine I’ve experienced over the years, pickled cabbage has had the greatest divergence between great and ‘courtesy bite.’ At the Schnitzel House, the dish compliments its sour tang with just enough sweetness, adding a flavorful variety to the dish. Its profile stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the other two components. There were no afterthoughts in the preparation of this meal, and that bodes very well for future explorations of their menu.
As great as the meal was, what really stood out was the price. Nearly everything on the menu was under $10, making this an incredibly affordable experience for anyone for a filling lunch or dinner.
The Lehmann’s informed me that they will be back on “Goodbye Deutschland” next year, and their friends and family back home should be proud of what they’ve accomplished so far. Locals and visitors should be even more excited that an excellent meal at a great price can be found right here. So get a tall glass of beer, and enjoy a taste of Germany at the Schnitzel House.
The Schnitzel House is open for lunch Monday through Friday from 11:30am to 2pm, and for dinner Monday through Saturday from 4:30pm to 8:30pm. For more information, call them at 239-437-8664. Indian Creek Plaza is located at 17274 San Carlos Boulevard, Fort Myers Beach, FL 33931.
By Trent Townsend