IF THE WORD FITS: Several years ago, another reviewer described
Fritzl's Austrian Cafe & Dessert Shop as "quirky".
We still can't think of a better term, and we mean it in the
nicest way. This is an unusual, unexpected pleasure in an
unlikely storefront setting.
QUIRKY? How about expertly-prepared schnitzels and
delicious soups on throwaway plates? A friendly dog out front
who appears to be waiting patiently for leftovers? A bathroom in
the back of a kitchen so small that the chef has to move away
from the stove and push back a pastry rack to let you pass?
Gloriously tacky decor that includes fake windows, straw mats,
bad art, skis and a cuckoo clock that uses a beer bottle for the
counterweight? "Everything I find, I nail to the wall," explains
Klaus Fritz, the boss. Actually, the bread loaves shaped like an
alligator are screwed to the wall.
KLAUS ENCOUNTERS: It's pretty much a one-man show, and Mr. Fritz
is the man: scurrying around, good-naturedly barking at the
waitress, juggling cast-iron skillets (well, not literally) ,
cracking wise with the customers in German and English. He is a
fourth-generation pastry chef who liked America too much to take
over the family business back in Kindberg, Austria. So he worked
on cruise ships, and in Florida, Hawaii and California before
settling in Garland and opening the cafe in 1996. (Moved to
Rowlett in 2003)
HOW IT'S GROWN: Fritzl's began as a coffee-and-pastry shop, he
says. "But maybe this is the wrong area for specialty desserts.
People came in and said, 'Where's the doughnuts?' So I started
making lunch specials and everybody liked the food."
PUTTING ON THE FRITZ: Now Fritzl's serves lunch and dinner in a
cozy setting just half a dozen tables inside and a few more on
the deck. (Call for a reservation to avoid a wait.) The menu
includes soups and salads, sandwiches and pastas, but the
chicken breasts and wiener schnitzels in Klaus' skillet are the
main reason to visit. The basic wiener schnitzel ($9.99) was a
little oily (my health-conscious mom probably would have blotted
it with a towel) , but that's probably more authentic. The pork
loin was tender and nicely seasoned, and came with cranberry
sauce and fried potatoes tinged with just enough onion.
OTHER SCHNITZELS: Options include the Pariser -- in a
beer-and-egg batter-- cordon bleu, scaloppini and
paprika-sauced. We tried the paprika version of sautéed chicken
breast ($8.99), delicious in a spicy cream sauce. Unfortunately,
they were out of goulash, which comes as soup and as a main
dish. But I'll bet Klaus knows what he's doing there, too.
STARTERS: Both tomato basil soup, with a rich, creamy base, and
sauerkraut soup, stocked with potatoes and beef are highly
recommended. Both are $3.99. We were less enamored with the
Caesar salad ($5.49), with a heavy mayonnaise sauce. It really
seemed out of place on that plastic plate.
AHH, BUT DESSERT: Baked in-house, it more than makes up for any
other flaws. You can't try them all in one outing, but then
again you can take them home, which many people do (whole cakes
go for $23.95 to $29.95). Apple strudel was flaky and not too
sweet, Black Forest cake was drenched in schnapps (This is not a
complaint) and a fruit torte featured light cake and delicious
cream. (Cakes are $3.50 a slice; other pastries start at $1.39).
And another two or three bucks will buy you a fancy cup of
coffee. Too bad this isn't the dessert buffet back on that
There's occasional live music, but expect the stereo to be
playing German pop and various oompah numbers. It's informal,
friendly and a swell change of pace. Did we mention quirky?
by: Michael Precker
Fritzl's Austrian Grill & Dessert Shop