Von Trapp's: Take the Kids, but Don't Forget the Reservation

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Ask travel writers for tourist "must sees" in Washington State, and Leavenworth--the town in Central Washington that successfully pulled off a Bavarian-style facelift back in the 60s--is bound to appear on most itineraries. Ask your average college co-ed for their travel bucket list and I'm pretty sure clinking beer steins in Munich during Oktoberfest will make the cut.

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The duo behind Bastille, Poquito's and the forthcoming Stoneburner, Deming Maclise and James Weimann were smart to open oversized beer and brats haus Von Trapp's because of Bavaria's appeal to the young, old and in-between. They also made the place all-ages until late at night, giving parents a new dinner option in a part of Capitol Hill that's void of family-friendly (or at least family-tolerant) eateries.

That said, here's a mistake you won't make twice: bringing kids to Von Trapp's on a weekend. On a recent Saturday before 6 p.m. the wait for a party of 10 (including two kids and a pair of babies) was not one, not two, but three hours. That's at least partly because there are a measly 16 tables in the dining room. The recently-opened buzz will wear off eventually, but if you go for dinner and a beer with kids the seating area is much more limited (as the many "No Guns, No Minors" signs peppered in partitioned areas throughout the interior attest) and a wait is inevitable. The place is also really loud--a factor that is sure to annoy diners on a date or in a low-key mood--but if you have children that can be a good thing.

There's a lot for kids to look at while they eat, including sparkly chandeliers from Vienna, stuffed elk heads and very cool indoor bocce courts. The menu is full of fare like currywurst (sliced brats in curry ketchup) and kasespatzle (cheesy egg noodle casserole) that go down easy. There's also a separate kid's menu featuring smaller portions of potato pancakes and chicken shnitzel.

Avoid salads and stick to the bar food. The German Chop, with rock-hard croutons, romaine, chunks of Beecher's Cheddar and an overcooked hard boiled egg, looked liked it was lazily chopped with a dull cleaver and plopped on a plate. The vinegar-heavy dressing totally overpowered the bread-centric bowl. You'll be happier eating the cheddarwurst sausage sliders with German mustard and an order of crispy fries.

By the time Von Trapp's opens its doors at 4 p.m. on the weekend there will probably be a line outside, and by 4:30 almost every seat will filled. You can reserve tables Monday through Thursday and sign up for a bocce court and table ahead of time on the restaurant's website. Note that unless you have a reservation and the place has reached capacity (which can happen quickly) kids may not be admitted for the rest of the evening even if space opens up. In that case, it's best to head down the street to Ba Bar for a much shorter wait and a big vermicelli bowl.

Here's some good news: Von Trapp's will open at 11:30 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays starting March 23.

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