If you are lucky enough to be a German and living in Tennessee, you know that Schweinshaxe is an oven-roasted pork shank served on a bed of sauerkraut. You also know the best sauerkraut in the world cannot be bought at a local grocery but must be shipped cold from “the old country,” along with frosty kegs of Weihenstephan, Spaten, Paulander and Warsteiner.
I’m talking serious German food here. And as sure as sizzling thick slices of brautwurst, knackwurst, polnische wurste, two Schweins wurst’l, and bauernwurst should be accompanied by no less than four different types of mustards, the most fabled German restaurant in the Southeast will hold its first Oktoberfest in Farragut this Friday and Saturday.
This isn’t a ‘come on’ and I’m no shill. I have eaten at Restaurant Linderhof six different times and it is without peer, I promise you. This weekend the restaurant will be closed to allow for the annual Oktoberfest which will feature “beer, bands, food, and fun.” A huge 10,000 square-foot tent will be turned into a banquet hall in the commons of the Renaissance Farragut, located at 12700 Kingston Pike.
If you can spell “Volkswagen,” this is a must. There will be polkas and tubas and lots of accordions at the family-style gathering much like you might find in the suburbs on Munich. There will be three-legged races, bobbing for apples, and all sorts of fun but the real draw will come from the kitchens of Restaurant Linderhof where mounds of meticulously prepared authentic German food will be brought to and prepared on site at the festival throughout both days.
Aaron Schmissrauter, a former Chattanoogan, once worked for the German family who first earned Restaurant Linderhof’s reputation while in college and is now the driving force behind the thriving eatery and its much-anticipated Oktoberfest. This year’s event promises to be big, said Aaron, “because there aren’t too many authentic Oktoberfests in the south. Plus, a lot of gourmet types from all over the region say they are coming.”
There are two German party bands from Nashville that will play – the “Oomph-posters” and the “Musicmeisters” – and the late-night entertainment will be two classic rock bands. The entire community is involved, with the Rotary Club handling parking at a nearby church and supervising the children’s activities.
“We’re really pumped up,” the former Baylor School wrestler said. “We’d love for all the Volkswagen people to come up. The local car dealers will have a bunch of Germany-produced cars like Audi, Mercedes, VW and Porche and – hey – we are even going to auction off a German Shepherd puppy for charity!” he laughed in his delightful way.
Aaron became entranced with the German art of cooking when he worked part-time while attending college at the Restaurant Linderhof – named after a beautiful castle in Germany. When the founding family decided to sell the restaurant, Aaron quickly jumped at the opportunity and, thus far, has resisted opening a location in Chattanooga.
“I want to learn a little more but I hope that one day we can open back home. We’ve been really blessed in the past year or two so maybe our Oktoberfest will generate some interest towards Chattanooga,” Schmissrauter said. The restaurant is known for its Schnitzel, veal and pork dishes, and a variety of Old World desserts. “We are now having people come from everywhere.”
The opening celebration this weekend will begin at 3 p.m. on Friday while Saturday’s festivities will begin at noon. And the Farragut Oktoberfest is an easy 1½-hour drive from the Chattanooga area. Drive north up I-75 until it merges with I-40 East and take a right at the Campbell Station exit. Drive east until you come to Kingston Pike, take another right and – after you pass the Kohl’s and Fresh Market – the Renaissance site, and the huge tent will be easily seen on the left. (Tennessee plays at South Carolina on Saturday so the traffic should be normal.)
Gosh, and somebody is really going to win a German Shepherd!