You are reading an archived issue of Sleet Magazine. To return to the current issue, click here.

Volume 5 Number 2.5

Kate Shuknecht

Into the Forest: The Black Forest Inn, Minneapolis
Location: 1 East 26th Street, Minneapolis MN 55404
Hours: Everyday from 10:30 AM until Midnight (kitchen closes at 10 pm)


When friends say "Where should we meet?" and I suggest The Black Forest Inn, it isn't entirely because it's within walking (or stumbling) distance of my Uptown apartment. It's also because I want them to experience this dark-wooded restaurant on my watch; I want to see the looks on their faces when they step off the busy corner of Nicollet and 26th and into the this thick, embracing richness, like someone's German grandmother's kitchen from another century. And as their eyes and noses adjust to this other atmosphere, they begin to hear the low, old music that seems to come from nowhere. Or everywhere. Perhaps it falls from the painted ceiling, perhaps its piped from the wall sconces, perhaps it just lives in all the supposedly inanimate objects as a Hotel Californian haunted sense that envelops every visitor separately… (except, you know, you can leave. You just might not want to).

Ultimately, the reason for going to a restaurant is to eat. And if you don't like hearty German fare, don't come here. Unless you just come to drink, which is not a bad deal either, especially considering the place began as a bar almost fifty years ago. But really, you should eat. And you should start with an appetizer. Let's talk about balls. Ham and sauerkraut balls, specifically. Tasty fried fistfuls of chopped ham and 'kraut and celery seed and… magic. Served with a side of stoneground mustard on a bed of lettuce. They are crunchy and delicate and intensely flavorful. "I don't really like sauerkraut," you say. JUST TRY THEM, friendo. If they don't change your mind, I'll eat the rest of them and reimburse you.

If you want to continue with balls, you can't go wrong with the Monday through Thursday dinner special of Königsberber Klops. When your server asks if you want one or two meatballs, I'll warn you, they are massive. And if you've already eaten an appetizer and you want to save room for some famous chocolate torte, you really only need one. Besides, that one ball is served over a pile of house-made spaetzle, dripping with white caper sauce, a side of red cabbage, and house-made rolls (or brötchen).

If it's not Monday through Thursday, or you're just done with balls, might I suggest every other thing on the menu. Truly. Bring as many people as you can, all order something different, and share. If you are few, here are my favorites:

Bratwurst dinner— If you ask a server to suggest something they will tell you this is the most popular. And with cause. A filling selection of house-made finest: bratwurst, German potato salad, sauerkraut, rye bread, and a good sized heap of that stellar mustard.

The Reuben— You're a grownup. If you want to have a sandwich for dinner you go right ahead. And make it a good one. Tender, slow cooked corned beef, perfect rye bread, handmade Thousand Island dressing, side of fries. You know you want that!

Alsation Sauerkraut Casserole— Like a trough of all good things you need to eat on a cold, cold night. Smoked sausage chunks, sauerkraut, roasted potatoes, and onions all stirred into an almost-mash. If you eat the whole thing, you may have to take a nap.

Braised Pork Shank— Just say that out loud and tell me you don't drool. Slow roasted deliciousness served with a classic side of mashed potatoes and brown gravy.

Beef Rouladen— ONLY ON SATURDAYS, be warned. Completely splendid meat roll up with pickled veggies and bacon inside. If that's not enough, it's covered in brown gravy, served with spaetzle and red cabbage. Maybe you order two. Maybe one goes home with you.

Pineapple Toast— ONLY ON LUNCH MENU. It has a weird name. But trust me. There is nothing less than fantastic about a salty/sweet open faced ham and pineapple sandwich smothered in melted cheddar.

But you don't go to a restaurant just to eat. If you're like me, part of you is still a child and "going out to eat" is a mighty treat, and you want to enjoy the whole experience. Since I like lists, here's another one, containing in no particular order several things that please me immensely about this establishment:


Lest you think I'm a pushover, I do have some criticism; the sauerkraut is too sweet. Rumor has it there is Sprite in there. I wouldn't normally validate rumor with print, but I heard it from two separate servers. And they should know. Whatever. You might like its more Bavarian taste and texture. I'm a bigger fan of seriously salty, still kinda crunchy 'kraut. And there are MANY other things at the BFI that I will happily eat instead. More balls please!


Kate Shuknecht is a poet, publisher, dedicated breakfaster, deal maker, risk taker, dog walker, foodstuff blogger, creative trader, nick-name giver, little sister, big lover of too many things to list here. Check out more of her work at and