The Dream Meal Team has been at it again. For the second year, our group of three experienced foodies took on the enviable task of dining out once or twice a week at some of the region's finest restaurants for reviews and to pick the best appetizer, salad, entree and dessert for the Foothills magazine's annual Dream Meal.
The winners — and there were many — are published in the January-February issue of Foothills, now available at many locations. Reviews of all participating restaurants will appear one each week on the Winemaker's Journal website.
The Dream Meal review team is made up of Annette Pitts, director of the Cascade Loop Association, former caterer and food blogger; Kent Getzin, Wenatchee School District director of food services and member of the National Farm to School Board of Directors; and Rick Steigmeyer, food and wine blogger and Wenatchee World staff writer.
All meals were provided by the restaurants, most drinks were purchased. As current or former food service workers, we all want to see local restaurants succeed. Criticisms, if any, are all meant to be constructive.
There’s not many places in North Central Washington where you’ll find items like smoked duck breast salad and escargot sauvages on the daily menu.
Those are two of Cafe Mozart’s house specialties, along with sauerbraten, schnitzel and spaetzle, and they are very special indeed. Christina Forchemer-Zucktriegel and her husband Richard Zucktriegel have owned the famed Leavenworth restaurant for 17 years. Christina’s family also owns the Andreas Keller German restaurant. The Forchemer family has owned the building that houses both restaurants since 1978. The family recently added the Fresh Burger Cafe on Commercial Street.
Richard does the cooking and it’s clearly something he’s passionate about. He grew up in a restaurant family, attended culinary and restaurant and hotel management schools and opened his first restaurant in Germany at the ripe age of 21, in competition with his parent’s restaurant nearby.
“A big mistake,” he said. But one that taught him a lot.The restaurant is dedicated to the work of the family’s favorite classical composer, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Diner guests will often be treated to guest artists playing Mozart pieces at the restaurant’s new piano.
The menu is distinctly German and Austrian. But Richard has added French, Italian and Pacific Northwest dishes to appeal to a wider clientele. The restaurant has one of Leavenworth’s largest wine collections, with nicely selected vintages of Northwest, California and European wines. We chose an excellent Oregon Pinot Noir.
Our meal included the wonderful duck breast salad with generous slices of lightly smoked free range-raised duck from Maple Leaf Farms in Indiana. The skin was crispy like bacon, the center still succulent. It was topped with a bed of fresh baby garden greens and arugula with cranberries, caramelized walnuts, red onion and a delicious raspberry-balsamic dressing. This is one $20 salad that’s worth every penny.
Another winning dish is the spectacular Escargots de Bourgogne Sauvages. It was, in fact, our favorite appetizer of the competition.
“A beautiful presentation and fantastic flavor,” said Kent.
“This dish was absolutely delicious and I would have been happy to eat it as an entree alone,” added Annette.
As the name implies, this classic French appetizer is made with wild snails picked from vineyards in the Bourdeaux region of France. Richard goes all out for European authenticity. He sautes them with wild mushrooms, truffle butter and cream and serves them in a hollowed tube of French baugette. This is truly an impressive and delicious dish. Richard said many of his customers come from Seattle and farther just to order this appetizer.
Maple Leaf Farms boned duck breast was also our entree, this time unsmoked, but seared and topped with sauteed Bing cherries in a ruby port reduction and served with pommes dauphine, russet mashed potatoes made with cream and egg yolk, then deep fried.
Our dessert was the Chocolate Noisette, as impressive and decadent as you might expect a dark chocolate pyramid of chocolate ganache and hazelnut mouseline to be.
Any one of these items is good reason to dine at Cafe Mozart. Eating them all in one evening, as we did, is an invitation to delicious overconsumption. The restaurant was quite busy, but the service top notch. Best to make a reservation, essential on weekends.
Cafe Mozart, 829 Front St., Leavenworth; 548-0600. Hours are 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.. Most menu items priced between $8 and $26.