August 07, 2011
We were on the road Friday night and Saturday, visiting Juli's son in Cedar Rapids. On the way back home, we stopped at the Amana Colonies and had dinner at our favorite Amana restaurant, the Ox Yoke Inn. There are actually two Ox Yoke Inns, one in the Colonies itself and the other located on Interstate 80. We always eat at the one in Amana.
As usual, the food was excellent, save for one small quibble this time around, but we found the service atypically poor. Usually the service is quite good, but I wasn't quite so pleased on this occasion.
Juli started out with a cream soda brewed at Millstream Breweries, another Amana business. Her soda was served up with a nicely frosted mug. I had iced tea. For our meal, Juli had a hot roast beef sandwich plate, plus some pickled beets. Her plate included an open-faced sandwich piled high with delicious roast beef, a big serving of mashed potatoes and gravy, and a sliced fruit medley, which she chose in place of the coleslaw that otherwise comes with that meal. I got a jager schnitzel plate. The jager schnitzel - a thin-pounded pork loin cutlet fried in a coating of cracker and breadcrumbs - was served with spaetzle (a type of egg noodle) and green beans. We finished our meal with a shared slice of really nice coconut cream pie.
As always, the food was excellent. The roast beef was tender and delicious, and topped with plenty of the same gravy served with the potatoes. Juli always loves the beets at Ox Yoke, and this time was no exception. The fruit medley was both refreshing and quite generous in terms of portion. My schnitzel was very juicy and tender on the inside, nicely browned on the outside and topped with a delicious mushroom gravy. The green beans were farm-fresh and delicious, and the spaetzle was tender and buttery. The coconut cream pie was excellent. In fact, it looked so good we dived right into it, forgetting to take a picture first. I would be quiet pleased if I could figure out how to make such a flaky and crisp pie crust.
The only quibble I had with the food was that my serving of spaetzle was not very generous. It was, in fact, tiny compared to the very generous schnitzel portion. I ordered a side of mashed potatoes and gravy to make up for the scanty schnitzel portion, and also because I like the potatoes and gravy served at Ox Yoke. Unfortunately, I never got the potatoes and gravy. Our server never brought it, and as far as I know, she didn't even put the order up. In any case, by the time she returned to our table to refill drinks, I'd already finished my plate, so I didn't mention I'd never gotten the potatoes and gravy. However, when we got our check, I noticed we had been charged for the absentee spuds. The server was apologetic when this error was pointed out, and she did correct our ticket. I still considered that poor service, though the error thankfully was not enough to prevent me from enjoying the meal.
The only possible excuse one might make for the service was that the restaurant was very, very busy. We arrived a bit after 5 pm, which is the time most of the stores at Amana close. A lot of people had arrived ahead of us, and we ended up waiting about 20 minutes before we were seated, at which time the restaurant was packed. I don't think being busy is an excuse for poor service - one would think, after all, that being full is a good thing for a restaurant - but it might still have been a factor. Since we'd never gotten poor service when we'd been there other times of the day, and had also never seen the restaurant that packed, next time we decide to eat dinner at the Ox Yoke, we will plan to either arrive a bit before 5 pm to avoid the rush, or go do something else for awhile before we get dinner.
As I noted above, most of the stores close at 5, but the Millstream Brewery is an exception. They have an outdoor beer garden, it was quite busy when we drove by on our way to the Ox Yoke. Maybe it was busy simply because it was a warm day - and thus a good day for a cold beer or two - but we couldn't help wondering if maybe it was busy in part because some of the patrons were waiting for the Ox Yoke to be a bit less crowded. If you plan to stop at the Ox Yoke for dinner sometime, you may want to do the same.