I will be honest. My brain shook a little when the voice taking our dinner order mentioned their 60th birthday. A year and a half after the start of the pandemic, listening to chefs share their concerns and difficulties, learning about a restaurant’s diamond anniversary gives more than a glimmer of comfort.
When the Metro Restaurant first opened in 1961 (as the Metro Tavern), the old house on Victoria that was added began to make a name for itself for the foods synonymous with Waterloo County, drawing thousands of people from near and far. Today, while social media draws in young diners, nostalgia helps bring others back.
âWe have a lot of clients who have been coming for years, since they were kids,â says Natalie Crawley, one of Metro’s general managers. âA lot of customers still come by saying, ‘Oh, I used to come here 30, 40, 50 years ago when I was a kid’ or ‘My mom and dad would take me here.’â
Some customers share other memories. From the 70s to the 90s, when plates of schnitzel and cabbage were served against the accents of Bavarian music on the ground floor, syncopated basslines and (later) fast, hard melodic lines were heard by a series of clubs in the basement. One of them, The Back Door, a famous counterculture club in the 1980s that drew artists from across North America; her story will be told in an upcoming book by journalist and former club DJ Coral Andrews.
But when it comes to the subway, guests come for the comfort food their mom used to cook. Many say it is exactly how they remember it from their youth. Although the menu has evolved over the years – a change of ownership in the 90s brought Czech influences – the cuisine focuses on German and Central European dishes. Schnitzel continues to be their bestseller, with over two dozen plates, combinations and platters.
Oktoberfest normally brings a lively dining hall, but, of course, this year is different. While security protocols allowed some guests in the dining room and on the patio, the month-long Oktoberfest team specials have been popular delivery and pick-up choices for those who want a bit of gemÃ¼tlichkeit at the House.
âIt wasn’t like other years, of course, during the pandemic, (and) we have a capacity limit. We have our specials like our Oktoberfest sausages and cutlets, like our beer – which people would usually come here, order and enjoy on a regular basis, âsays Crawley.
Their kitchen is in good hands: before joining Metro ten years ago, their chefs worked in professional kitchens in Germany and Croatia. Their skills range in generously portioned dishes and hand rolling the dough for perogies.
Served with garlic toast, Hungarian Goulash Soup ($ 7.95) features firm, bulky vegetables and tender meat in a well-seasoned beef broth. The soup of the day – Leek – has a pleasant salty acidity.
The deep fryer sits in the Wien Schnitzel and Oktoberfest Sausage Combination Plate ($ 23.95), giving the hand-breaded pork cutlet a browned shell, a good hooking to the casing of juicy sausages and crispy with optional homemade fries. The other optional side, the applesauce, balances the schnitzel. This terrific meal is made even more with apple red cabbage ($ 3.95) and a plump, rich pigtail ($ 4.95) topped with sweet barbecue sauce.
For the little eaters, the Cabbage Dinner ($ 13.95, with optional soup) features a few plump, plump buns baked in a tangy tomato sauce, topped with a creamy mushroom sauce. They are served with rustic mashed potatoes and a sweet coleslaw and mayonnaise salad.
Cinnamon apples collapse into swirls in the tender dough of Apple Strudel ($ 8.75). It is an appropriate ending to the meal.
The memory of taste often evokes dinners long spent with family and friends. For those who want to taste these days again, Metro dishes can help relive those moments. And there, just like eating at your Oma’s, you will not leave hungry.
164 and 168 Victoria Street North, Kitchener
Facebook: @ MÃ©tro1961
Hours: Sunday: 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday: 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday: noon to 9 p.m.
Menu: Relaxed German and Eastern European home cooking. Wheat flour is in the kitchen. Vegetarians have no choice. Licensed, with alcohol also available for take out orders. Children’s menu. Food and wine menus posted on the website.
Payment: Cash, debit, Mastercard, Visa.
How to get your food: Pre-ordered pickup. Dining room: Patio and dining room. Reservations recommended.
Delivery: DoorDash, skip the dishes, Uber Eats
Accessibility: Limit. People with reduced mobility will need help entering the restaurant as neither the entrance nor the vestibule doors open automatically. Being an older building, the toilets have smaller stalls. Parking on site.
The law project: $ 61.10 for two starters, two main courses and one dessert.
Ordering food in the time of the coronavirus: As restaurants make day-to-day decisions, check their social networks or call them for updates. Lists of restaurants open while dining halls are closed can be found at bit.ly/3d2JV74 and wilmotstrongertogether.ca; a crowdsourced list is on Facebook’s Food In The Waterloo Region at bit.ly/3d1cKAX.