As some people may know, Mr. Harada and I love vans. Chevy vans, Dodge vans, Ford or mini, all of them resonate with our core desires of freedom. But there are two vans we love most: Ludwig van, and the Caravan.

So, it was with great delight that we received the news about the opening of the long-awaited Ludwig’s German Table at the old Germania Hall in San Jose. It’s a place where you can relax with a brew amongst friends, like the C-van, but it has obvious influences that reach back to the Romantic Era, when our fave Ludwig van was ruling the scene in Vienna. (Actually, it doesn’t have obvious influences to the Romantic Era, but being that 422 of the great composer’s hairs live at the Beethoven center just a few blocks away, I thought it was appropriate to engage in the above fantasy, which for all I know, is a complete fabrication.)

I arrived emotionally charged. The Germania Hall building had always been a potential spectacle of a good location, but was shuttered for as long as I can remember. Seeing the patio open, beer flowing, tables plated with the finest cylindrical meats—all of it made my lips tremble with tear-inducing joy. Memories of my ever-joyful grandfather and grandmother took a seat at the table.

The interior of Ludwig’s is extremely modern, with tasteful accents of blue throughout. It’s very well laid out and is quite beautiful, and I don’t know why I chose to ignore my intuition and go through the front door, but I did. I looked around, smiled that awkward smile, and headed to the beer garden. Mr. Harada was still on his way. His seaplane had landed safely near Drawbridge, but he was delayed inflating his floaties before he could swim to Alviso and hitchhike to downtown. I ordered the Jäger Schnitzel and enough beer to power a Zundapp Bella from Frankfurt am Main to Frankfurt an der Oder (roughly one liter).

When the Schnitzel arrived I became skeptical of its authenticity. What kind of hunter would rejoice at this finely curated cutlet? This delicately breaded entree was not something that I imagined would be served at a table in the Alps, while preparing to engage in wild game hunting. I surveyed the plate with wonder and confusion, and called upon my two basic worlds of knowledge to bring clarity: what my grandparents taught my tastebuds, and what Silicon Valley has taught my demeanor.

I scraped the gravy on the plate with my pinky and rubbed it against my gums. I felt the numbness of delight in my brain. This was top-grade, uncut schnitzel. I had yet to cut it with my knife, but already knew this was really good schnitzel.

Mr. Harada finally arrived, flanked by two goons from the weekly rag. They’re the type to pick on national treasures: career politicians, utility barons, developers—just folks trying to make an honest buck off of our backs. I would have usually declined the seedy company, but Ludwig’s is an upscale place with mid-range pricing, so I needed their deep pockets to get me through the night.

Luckily, my old buddy Josh and his wife, Jen, took a seat next to me. Josh is a tough guy that is known to traverse the streets on a mean Italian scooter. Jen is a woman that would be attracted to such a troublemaker. I’ll let your imagination decide what they look like, but they made me feel safe amongst the company Mr. Harada attracted.

We all ordered several soda bottle-sized mugs of beer—that’s the only way I can gauge what a liter or two liters is—and settled into the night. Things went from pleasant to extremely pleasant, but that is to be expected when you’re drinking German beer, eating great food and enjoying excellent weather.

Ludwig’s is everything you expect it to be, as “you” can be a lot of different people with different tastes. You just need to find the right table, any table, to sit at.

Ludwigs German Table
261 N Second St, San Jose