Monday, September 29, 2008

Willow Tree Cafe

Welcome to another edition of Furious Foodies. It occurs to me that you have no idea what your hosts look like! So here is a quick picture. I am the dude with the huge beard, and Dan is the other guy.

Your Hosts
Pretty handsome fellas ain't we? You can tell I like food. Hehe. Anyway, this time around we visited the Hollerbach Willow Tree Cafe in Sanford Florida. Without further ado, here are our thoughts:

Dan's Review:

As we walked up to the place I immediately saw the amount of people seated outdoors. Surely, this place had something going on for the sheer amount of people who I saw in the patio that day. We were seated by the owner of the restaurant, Theo Hollerbach (pictured left), personally. The walls were lined with elements of German culture big and small. The tables were well set and had ample coasters, they were not lean-friendly, however, so be careful when setting your elbow on the edge. The waiter was prompt and had suggestions when we were in doubt. He expressed mastery over the menu. He seemed to like his job very much and was welcoming. There was a singing guitarist as entertainment, as well. Environment gets a 5. Service gets exceptional.

theboozewtcFor the drink, I ordered a 0.5 liter Köstritzer Schwarzbier (pictured right). At first, it had a hard taste as if I had been punched in the mouth and tasted blood. About 2 gulps into it it began to taste smooth and somewhat sweet. It was pretty dark and left me tipsy for the duration of the meal experience. Drink scores a 4 for that beginning moment, but the vast majority of the drink saved it for me. Bread was provided as we waited.

For the meal, I chose the pork Wiener Schnitzel. The sides were saeurkraut and two seasoned potato pancakes.

The Schnitzel was crisp on the outside, but not to the point of having a cruch. The meat inside was juicy and did not have any awkward bites to it.

The potato pancakes were very soft, contained herb spices, and as a whole tasted of hashbrown, but more together and with hint of herb everywhere.

porksnitchzelThe sauerkraut was nothing like the kind found in jars, the first bite was strong to the point of sending a tingle into my nostrils. Soft, and full on juice, but not leaky.

For dessert, I had a slice of raspberry cheesecake. It was cheesecake, but had a delicious and light, fluffy layer of pink and white as well as an berry syrup zig-zagged on top. many white chocolate morsels were stuck on the back of the slice. Meal gets a 5, as does the dessert. It was a first and I knew that it wasn't a lucky first, there was a measure of skill and passion in that dish and dessert.

Definitely a repeater.

raspberrycheesecakeAmbiance/Style - Exceptional
Service - Exceptional

Appetizer - NA
Drink - 4
Entree - 5
Dessert - 5
Overall - 4.5 (Would Eat Again)

Clay's Review:

So, Willow Tree Cafe. A small cafe in Sanford Florida that specializes in classic and new age german food. Has won a slew of awards and what not. When doing my searchs for German this and one other local were the only places I could find. The other place was not open on Sundays and right now, that is a requirement for the group to visit it, so it didn't even get counted. Thats not to say I don't have it written down though. Anyway, we took a drive up to Sanford and found the cafe nestled if you will among historic downtown Sanford between a used book store and an art gallery. When we got there we almost missed it (mainly because I thought it was on the other side of the road) but a german flag caught my eye and we were able to locate it. However, parking around the actual cafe was nearly impossible as it had no parking lot.


Thankfully there was a public lot not even half a block away, and we parked and then walked our way down to the cafe, which was packed. I don't mean just simply busy, I mean packed. The "Please Wait to be Seated" was outside about 10 feet from door because they have outdoor seating, and we found that the outdoor seating was totally packed and indoor looked the same. A nice older gentleman appeared and offered to seat us inside but told us that there would be a wait for outside seating. Not wanting to sit with smokers (no offense to you all who smoke) I suggested inside. It helped that I was hungry.

So inside we went. The nice man sat us down, gave us our menus and a beer/wine list, and I found that the man who sat us was the owner himself, Theo Hollerbach. I called him over and double checked and him informed me that yes I was correct, and that he had been doing this stuff for 7 years with his wife. Now thats personal service. Throughout the rest of the meal we could see Theo wandering around, making sure tables were cleaned, servers were on point, and seating people himself. It was awesome.

Our server was named (I believe) Pieter, and he was super friendly, a fellow World of Warcraft player, and extremely knowledgeable about everything on the menu. You could tell that he honestly liked his job and didn't have that "I hate work" look that alot of servers had. So we ordered. I discovered that they had daily lunch specials and change their soups out daily as well. I had the Smokey Tomato Bacon soup and when it came out I could tell it was NOT from a can. There will still bits of tomato floating around with small particles of bacon. The smoke was tasty and delicious.

kaiserwurstFor my entree I ordered the Kaiser Wurst Teller which is a lunch plate of 3 Sausages of my choice, and 3 sides. I had the Weisswurst, Mettwurst, and Nürnberger as my three sausages and the German Potato Salad, Sweet Red Cabbage, and Spätzle with Rahm Sauce as my 3 sides. Now, the Weisswurst sausage was a Veal and Pork sausage, and it was....disturbing. No offense to the makers of it but the inside, the meat itself, was CREAMY. I tasted it, Dan did, a guest we brought along (Brandon, a coworker) tried it and we all agreed that it was...not our thing. Not to say it wasn't good. I am sure it was. But not for me. The Mettwurst (a smoked bratwurst of beef and pork) was tasty, but my favorite of the three was the Nürnberger, a long thin sausage made of well seasonsed pork. It was fabulous and the first sausage to be devoured.

Of the three sides, I liked the Red Cabbage but couldn't eat too much. The sweet plus sour taste of it was just a bit too much for me. The german potato salad was excellent and nothing like american potato salad. But my favorite of the three sides was the Spätzle with Rahm Sauce. And you could tell it was hand made. The noodles were most assuredly not uniform in shape, and the sauce was sorta like a brown gravy, but that only made it better. All in all the entree was everything I had hoped it would be: delicious.

blackforestcakeFinally we had dessert. Now me and the photographer had no idea what to order. You see, they don't really have a dessert menu. This is due to the fact that every week the desserts change, and are freshly custom made by a local who comes in and takes care of it. We told the waiter to suprise us, and he came back with a piece of Black Forrest Cake for me, and Triple Chocolate Cheesecake for the Photographer. I ended up finishing off the cheesecake, and devouring the cake. I enjoyed the cake, which had huge black cherries in it, but I really loved the ultra smooth and chocolately and dense cheesecake.3chococheesecake Of course, next time I go I may never see those two desserts again!

All in all my experience was fantastic. There was not a bad thing I could say about the place save one. The live entertainment, which started at 1pm, was annoying. The guy playing guitar could in fact play the guitar, but his voice was high pitched and extremely whiny.

Ambiance/Style - Exceptional
Service - Exceptional

Soup - 5
Entree - 5
Dessert - 5
Overall - 5 (Amazing)
Click on the photo's above for larger versions. Here are some other pictures of the location:

Some of the Art inside the Cafe

The Custom Coasters that they had at each table.

The very full bar with true german brews!

The outside dining area.

For more information including maps and a full menu, please visit their offical website -

Hollerbach's Willow Tree Cafe on Urbanspoon


Christina the coffee lady said...

Sounds like a really neat place. I am not sure where Sanford is. I will look it up and next time I am in Florida, I just might look it up!

Emily Veinglory said...

I am hungry as hell just from looking at the pictures :)

mistipurple said...

you make me feel like going out to get a sausage now.

Karen said...

This looks like a wonderful place to visit. The desserts look delicious. I wish I didn't get so full with my meal so I could try more desserts.

Lisa said...

I love your reviews! I love how you have two viewpoints in each post. I love the pictures too! Keep up the good work!

Hellan said...

wow looks like a great place, youve made me feel very hungry!!

Brad said...

Nice reviews, but I do have one question for Dan.

What is an "awkward bite"?

Dan said...

What I mean by "awkward bite" is when you bite into pan-fried, breaded meat and encounter a spot that has a consistency that does not match the rest of the meat. Rather than being chewy, it snaps between your teeth causing a bit of pause. That's the best I can describe it.

Jules said...

What a great restaurant review! This is by far one of the best ones I have ever read, and it's nice to finally "meet" you!

Connie said...

I love German food and your review of this restaurant makes me want to make a pit stop here when we go to Disney World. Excellent write up and photos. Looking forward to reading more!

Windyridge said...

That's some big beer!
Looks like a fun place to visit.
Now I'm hungry.

starlitparlit said...

Sounds great. The food looks delicious. I have never really eaten German food before but I would love to try it.

daria369 said...

It's good to have a chance and try a different kind of foods and German doesn't sound bad to me - at all. Germans are well known for their deserts (besides Wienner schitzel and sausages with sauerkraut) and their chocolate isn't half way bad at all... I'm glad you two enjoy your quests! ;)

Ferox said...

It sounds like a fun place, but you didn't mention whether the food was value for money.

Breezie said...

the desserts caught my eye too. Great restaurant review.

cady said...

sounds like an awesome place! i think your goal is pretty cool.

Aahz said...

Couldn't ask for a much more detailed review, or higher recommendations. Now if only I could find that plane ticket to Florida... ;)

Samantha and Mr. Tigger said...

Hey we live in Daytona! We'll have Mom and dad try it out! Food looks delicious!
Your FL furiends,

Theo Hollerbach said...

wow guys, I am deeply honored by your nice review and the awesome pictures. I am so glad you enjoyed our restaurant. I will let Pieter know how proud I am of his performance. Just so you know he has only been with us for three months and is our newest staff member. we all look forward to your next visit.