Skip the sausage at Disneyland’s new Village Haus Restaurant

Hold the sausage
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA10616409_10152256421910308_8303510207995740879_nI was expecting a German-style sausage, but got instead what tasted to me like a very mild sweet Italian sausage instead. However German and Italian cuisine might blend, an Italian sausage on pretzel bread, topped with sauerkraut, doesn’t qualify.

Italian spices just don’t get along with pickled cabbage. Nor do they sit well with the doughy saltiness of pretzel bread. They need the lighter, crispier crust of a pizza instead. And let’s not talk about adding mustard to the mix, as I’d heartily recommend on a brat-like sausage.

The lesson? Always go with the special. At Disney’s counter-service restaurants, stick with the options presented in a fancy bordered box on the menu board. At the Village Haus, those three options are:

An Angus 1/3 lb. Pastrami Cheeseburger ($10.49)
A “BLT” Flatbread Pizza ($9.49)
An Apple & Cheddar Salad ($7.49)
I’d skipped those because I was looking for something that fit the theme of place a bit better. A pastrami burger is as LA as food gets. A BLT on a pizza is another American combo, to be sure. And I’m not a big fan of Cheddar, especially on a salad.
But Disney’s usually got those options in the boxes for a reason, and it’s not just to steer you toward the higher-prices selections. Those are the items that location focuses on, and presumably does best.

So I’m not ready to judge the Village Haus until a return and give one of those entrees a try. Until then, though, I can recommend that you skip the sausage.

The strudel, however, is well worth a taste. I felt a twinge of disappointment when the lady at the counter brought me my strudel, as I eyed the spectacular Black Forest cupcakes in a cooler behind her. Topped with billowing whipped cream and chocolate shavings, the cupcakes shamed my ordinary-looking strudel.

“The cupcakes are good,” another lady behind the counter said, noticing my expression. “But, honestly, the strudel tastes better.”

That’ll do

I can’t speak of the cupcake, but the strudel lived up the billing, with sweet apple flavor and a vanilla dip that tasted like great vanilla-bean ice cream, reduced to a sauce.

Dining out in San Fransisco?

Bonjour, Monsieur Benjamin:

Chef Corey Lee’s new Hayes Valley French FIVE STAR restaurant is one for all occasions!

A place where you can get steak tartare and Camembert beignets until 1 a.m.? Sign us up. Here’s why you’ll find us at Monsieur Benjamin at all hours.

Sample a couple of petit plats, snack-size portions that go nicely with the restaurant’s concise cocktail list. In the Camembert beignets ($7 for six), the buttery, rich cheese is folded into the dough and the delicate fried squares are sprinkled liberally with dried cep mushroom powder. Deeply savory, they were the perfect foil to the refreshing, rum-based Pass the Hat ($11) with Aperol, fino sherry, Bonal and lime.

And if you need a late-night bite after one too many at Smuggler’s Cove, snag a corner table and indulge in the burger and frites ($18.50) or Monsieur Benjamin’s take on a French dip ($18.50)—they’re open until 1 a.m. nightly, making them a top contender for (relatively) late-night grub in the city.

Of course, you may want a multicourse meal of French classics, like pâté de campagne ($14.50) and a textbook steak frites ($36). The bavette steak has a gorgeous ruby-hued interior, herby jus, buttery sauce choron and a pile of thin-cut fries that you may not be able to stop eating.

Our favorite dishes showcase modern techniques and surprising ingredients that subtly show the chef’s sleight of hand. It’s seen in the steak tartare ($16.50), dotted with golden egg yolks, as well as cornichon, parsley, chives and white flecks of dried Wagyu beef fat, giving the plate an appearance of a messy painter’s palate.

The real coup de grâce is the life-changing lobster ragout ($32), a carryover from Benu: Freshly made spaghetti is topped with an ample amount of sweet, fresh lobster, simmered in a bacony sauce with a touch of heat, thanks to Korean pepper paste.

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