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My Finny Valentine

Getting misty-eyed over creamed herring and sweet German beer at AnneMarie's Bistro

At night the restaurant also features off-the-menu dinner specials, all of which are German. Tonight, it's rouladen, a stuffed meat roll. The stuffing of ground meat and sausages is rolled inside something that resembles a flank steak. Then the whole thing is simmered to a soft, pot roast-like consistency in a rich red sauce. The meat rolls come out very tender, and there's plenty of sauce to go with the excellent browned potatoes and onions. Skinny green beans, cauliflower and carrots are cooked until done but still firm.

The same potatoes and vegetables are served with stuffed pork tenderloins with porcini mushroom sauce, another hearty German-style entrée. I like the thick, creamy mushroom sauce with the potatoes even better than the rouladen sauce. The pork is juicy, and the stuffing seems to contain minced mushrooms. The portions are enormous; my dining companion and I can't finish the entrées, and half the herring salad remains as well. He takes the leftovers home for his wife. For dessert, AnneMarie demands we sample the cherry and apple strudels, both of which are good but not fantastic.

"Why is the menu half German and half other stuff?" I ask AnneMarie later on the phone.

AnneMarie Buett sold the Old Heidelberg Inn, starting over with AnneMarie's Bistro.
Deron Neblett
AnneMarie Buett sold the Old Heidelberg Inn, starting over with AnneMarie's Bistro.

Details

713-268-1115. Hours: Monday through Saturday, 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., 5:30 p.m.-10:30 p.m.

Herring salad: $5.95
Sausage and cheese plate: $5.75
Cup of goulash: $2.75
Wiener schnitzel: $12.95
Stuffed pork with mushroom sauce: $12.95
Combination smoked sausage platter: $11.75
Strudel: $3

6510 Del Monte

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"People don't like German food all the time; they think it's too heavy," she says. But the popularity of the German items on the menu at AnneMarie's Bistro hasn't escaped her notice. "I am going to change the menu again next month," she says, "and I think it's going to be more German." But AnneMarie is probably wise to stay flexible. When summer comes around and German food doesn't sound so appealing anymore, she'll have her options open.

I also want to know why the Wiener schnitzel has cream sauce at night but not during the day. "The original Wiener schnitzel is served without sauce," she says. But if you want cream sauce on it at lunchtime, all you have to do is ask.

And where does she get the herring in cream sauce? "I make it myself," she says. The herring comes already cured from the supplier. She rinses off the wine marinade it comes in and prepares the German-style sour cream, apple and onion dressing. AnneMarie's herring is one menu item that will taste just as fabulous in the summer as it does right now. But then again, my opinions about herring shouldn't be trusted.

My ex-wife and I have been divorced for eight years, but the spirit of our honeymoon lives on in my irrational adoration of herring with apples and onions on rye bread with German beer. As the Pennsylvania Dutch say, "Kissing wears out. Cooking don't."

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