Open since July on South Padre Island, Café Kranzler is almost perfect. The outside is unassuming, like most of the buildings along the strip between the Gulf of Mexico and the uber-salty Laguna Madre. The inside, with its pale green walls and awning over one row of seats, had a European ambiance that reminded me of Indulge Bistro in Denver. The ceiling descended into strange round light features. (I’m sure there’s a name for them, but I don’t know it.) Speakers played light jazz, which seemed incongruous; I think I was expecting marches.
On the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, there were two servers and two tables being served. I liked the heavy plastic water glasses and the grilled bread brushed with oil. The seared scallops combined nicely with small pieces of grapefruit and pearl onion, but it was easy for the flavor of the latter to dominate.
Our entrees came too quickly, probably because the cook had too little to do. My cioppino broth was a balanced blend of tomato and vegetable stock and pernod, just a bit spicy. I could have slurped it up all day. Never having tried cioppino before, I didn’t know if the abundance of seafood was typical. I would have been satisfied with half as much, but I was able to take home 6 pieces of seafood for a snack after Thanksgiving dinner the next day. The seafood itself made a study in texture, with firm ahi, shrimp a bit overdone, and soft scallops and mussels.
Todd’s lobster mandoria, with shrimp and lobster in a parmsan truffle cream sauce, was sophisticated comfort seafood. Usually I order that kind of dish, and he orders something more like the cioppino, but we had switched tastes for the evening, I guess.
We took a while to decide, in fact, because everything on the menu sounded good. I wasn’t really in the mood for wiener schnitzel (the only truly European entree), but I could have ordered the salmon picatta with mascarpone mashed potatoes or the pork tenderloin messicani with polenta cakes.
We couldn’t pass up the tiramisu, Todd’s favorite dessert. I’ve never had it served this way before. I wish I had cut into it before taking a picture: the filling is what Cool Whip would love to be when it grows up. The ladyfingers were soft with rum and crunchy with sugar.
Café Kranzler’s founder used to own the amusement park on Padre Island. She came here from Germany 40 years ago, and this restaurant is her labor of love. It’s open for breakfast as well, and the menu looked good, but we went to Yummies again instead.