Barnstorm Restaurant sees German food differently. It’s not just something to slap on the menu during Oktoberfest when people have brats and beer on their minds. Rather, sausages and schnitzel are on the menu year-round, often appearing as weekend specials, and are served at lunch too.
Owner Renee Wagner was born and raised in Germany, coming to the United States when she was 16, and all of the German specialties served at the Barnstorm harken back directly to her mom’s recipes. Whether it’s schnitzel pounded out by hand or luscious potato pancakes offered traditional-style with sour cream and apple sauce on the side, these are not run-of-the-mill German dishes to be sure.
Case in point: sauerkraut. Cooked eight hours with a hammock, apple, onions and caraway seeds, it’s not the bitter stuff straight from a can that many people associate with sauerkraut and immediately pass on. This is more like sweetkraut, exploding with flavor. without the tart taste
And when was the last time you actually ate the red cabbage that came with a German entree? Don’t make a similar mistake by passing on Barnstorm’s, which is combined with onion, a touch of lemon and bacon and even sugar to create a sweet taste sensation that’s almost dessert-like.
“It’s important to start with fresh red cabbage,” Wagner said.
Jaeger schnitzel is a favorite, starring a generous sauteed pork cutlet smothered with creamy mushroom sauce featuring ham pieces and spices. Emphasis on the mushrooms—there was a garden’s worth on mine during a recent visit. The sauce is especially savory and teams well with the tender cutlet. Knusper schnitzel is also on the menu, breaded pork cutlet sauted and topped with a cooked-to-order egg.
Barnstorm feels like a quaint, cozy French cafe affording great airport views but on our visit the mood was strictly German, and not just because it serves the best saurerkraut around. Renee is a Rotarian volunteer at Oktoberfest and was decked out in a dirndl, and also dining was Norm Reinik and his wife Linda.
All that German wasn’t enough to convince wife Sandy to sway from trying a new dish listed among the dinner specials Our server egged her on with a description of beef cutlets grilled to taste with roasted garlic sauce. The strips arrived rare to her liking with a flavor-packed sauce that had just a touch of red pepper pop.
Barnstorm does a lot of things well besides German. Dinner menu alone is two full pages long from appetizer start featuring baked brie, spinach artichoke dip with homemade chips to Maryland blue crab cakes, moist and full of flavor, to chocolate thunder dessert finish. In between there’s steak, seafood, chicken and Italian specialties, amazing selection for a restaurant this size.
Open daily for breakfast and lunch—with another four pages of menu of blintzes and crepes, burgers and deli sandwiches!—and Friday, Saturday and Sunday for dinner, Barnstorm has terrific accompaniments. Signature green beans are to-die-for, exquisitely seasoned. Each dinner begins with fresh veggies along with Barnstorm’s baguettes served with seasoned butter. Saturdays there’s live music, currently the piano artistry of Mike Cross before Art Harriman returns for winter.
—by Marcus Dietz
Barnstorm Restaurant is in the airport terminal at 501 W. Valley Blvd. in Big Bear City. Call (909) 585-9339.