Given the Tri-Cities’ many advantages, both as a tourism destination and a place to settle down, we are getting quite a cosmopolitan restaurant scene. One such venue is Freiberg’s German Restaurant.
In the saga of downtown Johnson City’s revitalization, Freiberg’s continues to play a key role. Occupying the historic Tennessee National Bank building just off Fountain Square, proprietor Andreas Herholz and his capable staff provide their patrons with excellent German and European cuisine in a comfortable, tidy and friendly location.
This is what the dine-around bunch was looking for when, on a recent snowy evening, we welcomed our Retiree back after an extended absence. The staff made our evening more memorable, seating us where we could be charmed with a magic view of downtown’s Fountain Square in snowfall.
Wanting to eat light, I opted for Freiberg’s Black Forest Sandwich ($8.99) with a side of their excellent red cabbage, and my partner chose the Frikadella ($8.29), the restaurant’s version of the hallowed hamburger, sided with potatoes and onions. Our Retiree ordered Freiberg’s signature Sauer Braten entrée ($16.99) with red cabbage and potato salad. The Dieter picked the Boulette ($11.99) with broccoli and red cabbage, while the Carnivore chose the Bratwurst Sampler Platter ($14.99) with two sides.
After a spirited discussion on local news and events, our orders arrived. My Black Forest Sandwich had a stack of mild spiced ham layered with salami and Muenster cheese, topped with sauerkraut and a dollop of good brown German mustard. The accompanying red cabbage was just right, not too sour and not too spicy. The Dieter’s Boulette was a surprise: a flavorful meatball of chopped beef topped with sautéed onions. The broccoli side was steamed crispy, the red cabbage again complementing the whole meal.
My dining partner’s Frikadella used chopped spiced beef on a chewy pretzel roll, garnished with lettuce, tomato and onion. Having a forkful of Freiberg’s pan-fried potatoes and onions to go with each bite? Heavenly. As the platter of Sauer Braten was placed before the Retiree, I almost
regretted ordering my sandwich. This was a heroic cut of lean beef marinated for three days and then slow-cooked to perfection. The aroma was enough impetus for me to steal a forkful. It was so good the red cabbage and potato salad seemed a mere afterthought, and the smile on the Retiree’s face meant that this entree would be a long time finishing.
The last dish to arrive was the Carnivore’s Bratwurst Sampler. Arguably the most “German-looking” of all our choices, this was a plate of sauerkraut and potato salad, topped with three different bratwurst sausages, each having its own medley of flavors. The cheddar bratwurst, a mixture of pork and cheddar cheese was tasty, if a bit oily. It did not compare with the mildness and savor of the regular bratwurst link, nor the wonderful smoky note found in the smoked bratwurst. The Carnivore was obviously pleased with his choice, as his contribution to our table talk was a series of contented sighs between mouthfuls.
Be advised that portions at Freiberg’s are generous, so you may find yourself carrying a take-home box when you depart.
Freiberg’s has a proper children’s menu featuring a selection of their German entrees for kid-sized appetites. Curiously, their dessert menu’s a bit thin, though the Apple Strudel with Ice Cream more than makes up for the scarcity of choice. We all had fun welcoming our Retiree friend back, and Freiberg’s was just the place to do it. It can be “just the place” for you, too.
Freiberg’s German Restaurant
203 E. Main St.
Sun – Thu 10 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Fri-Sat 10 a.m. – 11 p.m.
Credit cards accepted