Rural Missouri - May 2017 - 17

Left: Noelle makes homemade cherry and apple strudels for guests to enjoy after a hearty meal at Der Essen Platz. Right: German-Chocolate Cake is a dessert staple.
by Paul Newton | pnewton@ruralmissouri.coop

N

oelle Ark doesn't live inside her restaurant, but that doesn't stop her
cozy German eatery in Camdenton from being her home. "I tried to
make it comfortable," she says. "We're not flashy; that's not me. This
is me, this is home. That's the way I look at it."
Specializing in unique German fare, Der Essen Platz - which translates
to "The Eating Place" - has been serving schnitzels, sauerbraten and wursts
along with fish and pasta entrees to discerning diners atop Thunder Mountain
for 10 years.
Noelle purchased the restaurant in 2003 when it was located in Cole Camp
and operated it for three years before moving it to its current location above
Bridal Cave.
Der Essen Platz is a German restaurant with strong French ties. Born in
Champagne, France, Noelle moved to a town just miles from the French-German border as a young girl. "This was an area I liked," she says of the Alsace
region. "I never cooked with my mother, but I saw the things she was doing and
learned to love the food."
Noelle immigrated to the United States while she was a teenager. She was a
teacher for nine years, something Noelle says "was just not my calling." To get
by, she worked in restaurants at nights and has been cooking for 36 years.
Introducing guests to her German-inspired meals has been Noelle's calling
card. "German food is very hearty, made for cold country. It has big portions.
We use a lot of pork, it's our friend," she says before laughing. "If it squeals we
cook it."
Schnitzels make up a trio of those popular pork dishes. Pork loin is trimmed
before being hand cut into two pieces per serving. The meat is tenderized before
taking a dip in flour, egg wash and bread crumbs. The shnitzels are pan fried
to golden perfection.
The Weinerschnitzel features that breaded pork loin topped with a housemade lemon sauce and served with a side. The Jaegerschnitzel features a Hunter Sauce with mushrooms, onions and red wine. The schnitzel gets a French
flair with the Schnitzel Cordon Bleu. The schnitzel is layered with Bavarian
ham and Swiss cheese and baked with a mushroom cream sauce.
"When people come here, they're coming here to eat. We're in the woods. We
consider ourselves a destination," Noelle says. "We have faithful customers who
still drive from Cole Camp to come eat with us."
Another meal worth the drive at Der Essen Platz is the Bavarian-Style Sauerbraten. Noelle compares it to a pot roast with German elements.
"We get a good cut of beef, usually black Angus, and we marinate it in vinegar, red wine and pickling spices for four days," she says. "Then we bake it
in the marinade and make a sauce with the drippings. We use gingersnaps to
thicken the sauce. It's a very, very German dish. We sell a lot of it."
You'll want more than your senses of taste and smell during a dinner at Der
Essen Platz. The west wall of the restaurant is covered in windows offering a
million-dollar view of the meandering Niangua Arm of the Lake of the Ozarks.

"We have a great view," Noelle says. "It reminds me of Switzerland. There's
an alpine look. From up here the lake looks like a big river. We also have a fantastic sunset. It's beautiful, we're known for that."
There also are up-close views of hummingbirds from the dining room. Their
website goes as far as to include a link to a hummingbird migration map so you
can time their arrival in order to watch them with your meal.
If a German beer is what you're after, Der Essen Platz will be your place.
"We don't serve Budweisers and that stuff," Noelle says. "That's defeating our
purpose."
Noelle's partner, Daniel Holton, handles the front-of-house items including
the important task of creating the beer list.
"It can be hard to get good German beer in Missouri sometimes," he says.
"We try and find beers that are unique."
Their current beer list includes 26 beers that are fit for a German meal. Nine
of the brews come from Germany while the others come from California, the
Midwest, Spain and France. "I've got 12 new beers available right now."
Beers are served in bottles or drafts ranging from 11.2 to 22 ounces. Wine
and non-alcoholic beer also are served.
If you've partaken in one of Noelle's homemade soups and dined on a bountiful German meal and still have room for more, you're in luck. You haven't even
had Noelle's most-loved dish yet. "I have always loved to bake. Dessert is just
my favorite thing," she says.
The dessert menu changes daily, but you can't go wrong with Noelle's strudels. Traditionally, cherry and apple strudels are available along with special
flavors Noelle cooks up on other occasions. The flaky dough stands no chance
against your fork as the creamy, sweet filling is scooped up for a delicious treat.
Other staples include German chocolate cake as well as a Jack Daniels Bread
Pudding which Daniel jokes "might make you want to have a dessert designated driver."
Noelle sells whole cakes, pies and strudels to customers with advance notice.
With their location so close to the summer-driven Lake of the Ozarks, Der
Essen Platz is open March through mid-November. The first and last full months
are special as they celebrate Wurstfest in March and Oktoberfest in October.
The number of wursts - sourced from Swiss Meats near Hermann - available increases and Noelle offers special combo plates designed for two - if
they're lucky - to finish. The platter includes a mound of mashed potatoes, red
cabbage, sauerkraut, two slices of sauteed ham covered with fried apples, two
meatballs with jaeger sauce and three wursts of your choice.
"It comes out and people are just like, 'oh my,' " Noelle says. "They just can't
believe how much food it is. People know our food is plentiful and they order
and will take it home for lunch tomorrow."
The customers don't mind that to-go box at Der Essen Platz, as they know
the quality of the food is top notch.
"I am very strict about consistency," Noelle says. "We put the time into it and
use very good ingredients. We want the food to be the same every time: Delicious."

Der Essen Platz
Specialties: German cuisine including Weinerschnitzel, Jaegerschnitzel, Bavarian-Style Sauerbraten as well as
multiple wurst options. Chicken piccata, baked tilapia and horseradish-crusted salmon. Homemade desserts.
Price: Appetizers from $7.99 to $13.99. Entrees from $12.99 to $23.99. Dessert from $5 to $6.

Camdenton

Details: Open Wednesday through Sunday, 5 p.m. to close. Closed Monday and Tuesday. Closed Wednesdays
in March, October and November. Closed December through February.
Directions: Located at 8 Bridal Cave Road in Camdenton.
Contact: 573-346-1122 and www.deressenplatz.com.

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