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Food

Matterhorn Chef

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When LAist thinks of schnitzel and sauerkraut, there is one place that does not come to mind: the San Fernando Valley.

At first, we were hesitant. The Valley is known for many things: oppressive summer heat, acres of apartment buildings, terrible road conditions...but not German food. Unless, of course, you make your way to Oxnard and Woodman and the restaurant known as Matterhorn Chef. Originally Hoppe's Old Heidelberg, the restaurant was taken over by chef Ueli Huegli, who turned the OH into the MC.

After a rather vague search for restaurants serving fondue earlier this year, LAist became aware of the Matterhorn Chef. Looking for a night of fun, we headed for the home of the singing chef over the weekend. We were early for our reservations, so we decided to start the night off with a visit to the bar. We were pleased with the selection (they have a nice variety of German schnapps, as well as ice-cold Jagermeister) and service, though the drinks themselves were not as good as the company—or the bartenders, who regaled us with how they got started tending bar while watching baseball and chatting with servers picking up drink orders. (We recommend a nice cold glass of Spaten Oktoberfest served from the tap.)

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Though the service during dinner proved to be rather spotty, a cheerful and friendly hostess seated us at a secluded booth; after placing drink orders we were presented with a platter of assorted salads and vegetables to accompany a basket of bread while we perused the menu. Containing traditional German and Swiss meals, as well as pasta, seafood and "Continental" fare, the menu rounds out at about six pages. We settled on an appetizer of cold asparagus in vinagrette, entrees of wild boar stew and Kasseler Rippchen (smoked pork with sauerkraut) and dessert of chocolate mousse.

The food, from beginning to end, was delicious. Our asparagus appetizer, chilled and topped with diced hard-boiled egg and vinagrette, was tender but not soggy, with a perfect balance of the asparagus flavor and the tasty—but not overpowering—marinade. Dinner portions are enormous: our two huge slices of smoked pork came with a pile of excellent sauerkraut, steamed spinach, roasted potatoes and steamed carrots; the wild boar stew came heaped on a plate piled with hills of kraut, spinach, beets and carrots. Busily inhaling all of the wonderful food in front of us, we didn't notice Chef Ueli until he was upon us in white cap and apron, wandering through the restaurant chatting with patrons about dinner. He stopped and talked amiably with us about our meal, then excused himself to continue the tour.

Just about this time the accordion player arrived to accompany the strolling violinist who had been entertaining diners all evening. We were seated directly across from the enclave set up for musical accompaniment, and thus had a first-rate view of the evening's entertainment. Aside from the dueling accordion-and-violin interludes and Chef Ueli picking up his own accordion to serenade birthday parties, we were treated to an impromptu rendition of "Crazy" by one of the waitresses.

Oh, and we almost forgot to mention dessert. After the huge and delicious meal, we couldn't resist giving one of the ten items on the dessert tray a taste. We settled on the amazingly decadent chocolate mousse, topped with thick cream, dark chocolate shavings and a chocolate cookie, along with a cup of strong coffee. The mousse was thick and rich—not overly sweet—and a fitting end to an enormous and enjoyable meal.

Matterhorn Chef is located at 13726 Oxnard Street in Van Nuys. For information, hours or reservations, call (818) 781-4330.