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I think noodles are the star of the show. As someone reading something called Noodling, I know you are very shocked. For the purposes of this column and often the purposes of my life, I’ve zeroed in on noodles as a meal’s defining feature, where the sauces, proteins, and whatever else can be interchanged as long as some kind of noodle is present. In this edition of Noodling, however, I honor an often-unsung noodle hero, one frequently used as a side piece rather than being allowed to display its true star power.
Today, we talk about spätzle.
Spätzle is a German noodle made from a wet pasta dough of wheat flour and eggs, scraped or extruded into boiling water. The resulting dumplings are irregular, rustic, homestyle, whatever you want to call them, and after being finished in a pan with butter, they’re often served—around here, anyway—as a side dish, the simplicity a foil for whatever saucy schnitzel or salty wurst they’re nestled underneath.
At Royal Bavaria in Oklahoma City, the humble spätzle pops up in a few places, including one of only a few vegetarian-friendly entrees on the menu—the spinat spätzle in käse sauce mit tomaten, or spinach spätzle in Swiss cheese sauce with sundried tomatoes and crispy onions. That, paired with Royal Bavaria’s delightful bread basket and washed down with a liter boot of Kings Weizen beer brewed in-house, you might be all, “Meat who?”
I, however, went to a German restaurant with a meat-heavy menu because I did not want to say “Meat who?” I also wanted my pasta peeking out from a pool of gravy. After reading through the entire menu several times, I went with my gut, my go-to order at any German spot that will have both me and it: jägerschnitzel.
Royal Bavaria’s version is their most popular meal, for good reason. It’s a thin breaded and fried pork cutlet of significant size, spätzle on the side, with a rich, thick, paprika-forward mushroom and bacon brown gravy over all. It also comes with a salad that has pickled green beans and way too much creamy dill dressing, and while I love that salad, that’s really all I have to say about it.
You may think that on the schnitzel plate, the comparatively underdressed noodles would seem like the afterthought, the bland starch, the assistant TO the regional manager. You would be *extremely* incorrect. Tasted without gravy, one might argue the fried schnitzel is the blank canvas and the spätzle is the backbeat.
The noodles are all kinds of wonkily shaped and surprisingly al dente given their soft appearance. Their hefty chew is matched by liberal seasoning, with visible flecks of black pepper mottling their textured surfaces.
If you are on a spätzle quest due to this review or general good taste, know that schnitzel dishes at Royal Bavaria are buy one, get one free Monday through Wednesday. Also know that Royal Bavaria’s sister restaurant, Das Boot Camp in Norman, offers the dish as a standalone side. And finally, know that Fassler Hall’s OKC location only has a sweet potato variety I find intriguing.
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