Islander Terrace German Night - Regional Delights from Deutschland and Beyond
Restaurant Review by Ken Stewart, The Guam Food Guy
The Islander Terrace has done it again. They have proven that it is possible to save local residents the trouble of getting passports, visas, and the airfare for a flight to Germany by bringing Germany (and a whole lot more) to Guam. The Islander Terrace is the Hilton Guam Resort & Spa's buffet showcase, and when one considers that each night takes guests on an entirely unique theme dining adventure, it's easy to see how this popular restaurant maintains its reputation as having the best buffets on island.
Three words best describe my impression of German Night - "Over the top!" German Night has replaced Sizzling Mondays, and to be honest, I'm glad it did since I believe island residents will better enjoy tasting a variety of culinary creations that are bundled and labeled (for lack of a better word) as "German" cuisine. As you will discover, the food served in the Monday Night buffet line comes not only from Germany, but also from countries surrounding Germany, including France, Austria, Poland, Belgium, the Netherlands, Czechoslovakia, and Switzerland. So in reality, you are getting a regional sampling, kind of an ethnic-culinary cornucopia. The buffet is the realization of Executive Chef Christophe Durliat's extraordinary vision of creating a regional blend of German-influenced foods, some from areas along the Rhine River with others from as far away as the Danube. If you look at a map, you see there's a lot of country around these regions known by their river names.
The Germans are hearty meat eaters, and the buffet has both hot and cold meat selections, including Liverwurst (liver sausage), Ekrich Hard Salami, Hungarian Salami, Blood & Tongue Sausage, Capacollo, Smoked Ham, Wild Rabbit with Sauteed Spaetzle (a Bavarian pasta), Braised Beef Tongue in Caper Sauce, Roasted Goose with Braised Red Cabbage, Sausages ("Wurstchen" for small sausages, and "Wurst" for large), liver in a red wine sauce, Wiener Schnitzel (breaded veal cutlet), and Jagerschnitzel, which was veal cutlet with a forest mushroom sauce that was cooked to order as was the liver. The live cooking station also served "a Finely Sliced Veal a la Zurichoise", which had a lavish presentation with anchovy and caper berries placed atop.
The most perplexing thing about approaching a buffet as massive as the Islander Terrace is deciding where to begin. Part of this problem is solved when once you are seated, you are offered a glass of wine as an aperitif. The German white wine we had was called Bacchus, and had a light, semi-sweet fruitiness that was quite pleasing, and better (for me) than most Rieslings. Other beverages available for this special night are Bitburger and Allgauer Beers, two well-known German brands.
There were two soups, an excellent Chicken Consomme with Liver Dumpling, which I had, and a tomato-based goulash. Along with my soup, I went to the bread zone, which had perhaps 15 types of breads, of varied shapes, sizes, and compositions. At this buffet line, you could live on bread ("brot") alone! There is an entire area devoted to meat cold cuts, sausages and cheeses that included Gorgonzola, Brigante, and Parmisiano. There were also German mustards which paired well with a meat platter prepared by Chef Durliat.
I won't attempt to list all of the elements involved in the salad section of the buffet...suffice it to say, the Islander Terrace has an abundance of fresh greens and other vegetables. Several types of marinated fish, pickled vegetables, and a gorgeous salmon terrine were some of the notable items on the salad bar.
The hot line's main carving station had what resembled a pot au feu but filled with several types of sausages, slabs of pork belly, and boiled potatoes. Other interesting Hot Line items included the Escalope of Codfish in Dill Miriniare Sauce, a trio of Pierogi (that delightful Polish dumpling), Roasted Goose with Braised Red Cabbage, Sauteed white asparagus and capers, Cauliflower Polish Style, and a palatable Braised Beef Tongue in Caper Sauce.
The most difficult thing to do in a buffet of this magnitude is to save room for dessert, especially the quality and type of the confections made for this night. The ornate pastry selections included Kugelhopf (dried raisin cake), Birnen Kuchen (pear tart), Apfel Kuchen (apple tart), Kastanienchaum "nesselrode" (nut cake ), Bayerishe creme mit shokolade (Bavarian cream with chocolate) and Fruchtsalad (fruit salad). Also inlcuded were some Austrian delights such as Austrian Apfel Strudel (apple in puffed pastry), Dukaten - Buchteln mit vanilla sauce (Austrian bread delicacy with vanilla sauce), as well as some Polish specialites including Polish Kaesekuche "Sernik" cheesecake. I opted for the German apple strudel, as well as the Dukaten, which combined a genuinely delicious sweet bread with a tantilizingly luscious vanilla sauce."
The price for German Night is $34 for adults and is subject to the usual 10% service charge. Diamond Club and military discounts are available, with the free-flowing wine we drank limited to the vintage selected by the hotel. The buffet service is from 6-9pm. For this substantial meal I suggest you make reservations by calling 646-3463 and give yourself an hour to an hour and a half to eat. You really have to pace yourself because this food is heavy and will fill you up fast. Based on what we were able to eat during our dinner, it will take another visit to sample more of the food. I am pleased to recommend the new German Night every Monday at the Islander Terrace,