That Food Guy
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
  Johann’s Restaurant - Eagle River, Alaska

Johann’s Restaurant and Cottage Catering Eagle River, Alaska

When the mill and feed store moved to larger quarter a few blocks away, everyone wondered what sort of store would move in to fill the vacant space. I think we were all surprised when Johann’s set up shop. It just seemed to be an unlikely building for a restaurant. For what was once a drafty old mill and feed is now a comfortable place to dine. The décor can best be described as eclectic. I don’t believe that there are two sets of tables and chairs, nor the salt and pepper shakers on the table, that are alike. It does give the dining room the feel of the casual home setting. It certainly highlights the theme of the cottage catering.
I have had the opportunity to sample the wares offered by Johann’s on several occasions. The first time was very shortly after it opened. That was on the recommendation of a friend who lives locally. I believe that there were “teething” problems in the start-up operation. There was a delay in the order which was found to be incorrect when served. It was a kitchen mix-up and the server was very apologetic. It was no biggie, as they say, and we took the order as it was. It wasn’t bad food but it didn’t live up to the expectations we had after the recommendation. We sort of put Johann’s off, at least way down on the list, as a future dining spot.
Perhaps a year later, I returned a dog I was babysitting to its owners. “How about lunch?” they asked. You don’t have to ask me twice to go to lunch. They drove us to Johann’s. They were treating and they thought it was a good place to eat. I didn’t say anything about my previous experience. After all, back then it wasn’t bad food, just not great. I was pleasantly surprised. The delivery from the kitchen was quick, the order was correct, and it was very good; well presented and tasted very good. Johann’s was back on the list.
Sometime months later, a friend drove in from Anchorage for a visit. We decided to go to lunch. On the short drive to Eagle River we discussed our options. It occurred to me that my friend had never been to Johann’s and that became our choice for lunch. My order was for the chicken fried steak. The order was prepared in a reasonably short time. The steak was nice and crispy fried without being greasy, the meat cooked through but moist and tender. I could easily cut it with a fork. It was served with rustic mashed potatoes (my personal preference is for smooth, creamy mashed potatoes but rustic with chunks and pieces of peel is all the rage these days), sausage gravy and steamed vegetables, zucchini and carrots. There was enough gravy for the meat and the potatoes. It was mildly spicy with the sausage and had good flavor, a good balance between the blandness of the potato and the spice of the gravy. The vegetables were cooked just about right. There was something to bite into but without crunch. I was well satisfied with the meal.
On each of my visits to Johann’s, the serving staff has been polite and good at being at the table side just as you need them. I have been to Johann’s on good days and a bad day. On the bad day it was passable but nothing to encourage a return visit. On the good days the food is excellent; a meal that I would recommend. Johann’s current menu, prices and hours can be viewed at

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