European/German restaurant

Alpine Village Inn 6/6/99
833 W. Torrance Blvd., Torrance CA
phone 310-323-6520 or 310-327-4384
web site The buffet picture is not the current set up.

Location. This is on the north side of Torrance Blvd., between Vermont Ave. and the 110 Harbor Freeway; just west of the freeway. This place has a large parking lot. The Inn is over next to Torrance Blvd., just west of the Torrance Blvd. entrance.

Introduction. This is a large room, meant to look like a European beer hall. There is seating on the second floor which is mostly used for Oktoberfest. I'm only going to review the Sunday buffet which is set up on the dance floor. It's an all-you-can-eat buffet and includes many of their lunch and dinner items, plus champagne and juice. For the first visit to this restaurant, I'd suggest you try the buffet to get a preview of their food. The Sunday buffet is $11.95 and includes seven meat items which range from $7.95 to $12.95 on their regular menu. The items almost never change, from week to week or from year to year. Some food items are only on one side of the double buffet line. Keep your eyes open so you don't miss something.

Buffet hours. They are vague concerning their hours. Their printed material says they open at 11 a.m., seven days. If you ask, they say the Sunday buffet runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. But, if you really ask, on some of the big holidays they start as early as 9 or 9:30 a.m. I prefer to go early, so call for details. By noon time, even on a normal Sunday, they're getting full.

The main buffet. This is a carnivores delight, vegetarians won't find many dishes. Pick up a plate, and check out the cold section. Select from about seven prepared salads, some also containing meat and/or cheese. Next are several breads, raw vegetables, salad fixings, cheeses, cold cuts, deviled eggs, fruits, creamed herring, lentil salad, beet salad, and more. You may see some changes here; like sometimes the apple salad contains chicken, and a few years ago they chanced the cheeses. This stuff is almost always good.

Then come the hot items. I'll give some European names, check their menu for the English descriptions. The only breakfast item is scrambled eggs. The vegetables include mixed carrots and green beans and breaded and fried cauliflower. There's sauerkraut and red cabbage. The starches include potato pancakes, fried potatoes, rice, and spaetzle. There is token fish. There's a green split-pea soup thick enough to put on your plate; there are no bowls. The meats include several types of sausage, rotisserie chicken, meat balls, pork roast, beef goulash, beef roulade, sauerbraten, and wienerschnitzel. All were ok or better.

Carving station. At the end if the buffet line is a carving station with turkey, ham, and roast beef. The roast beef is large enough that you can ask for well or medium done, at least early when I go. There are bagels and cream cheese and, today, berry muffins. Here also are apple, cranberry, and horseradish sauces, au jus, and other condiments. For other mustards or stuff, ask the waitress.

Desserts. There is one dessert table which is my least favorite area. There are several cakes and stuff, but I usually just get a piece of cheese Danish and fruit. I've asked them to put out smaller dessert portions, or samples, but nothing yet.

Summary. I've been eating here since the early 1980s, before they moved into the current building, and the food is usually good. However, things happen. Today I asked if they had a new chef cause my meat ball was tough and the sauce was different. Also today the sauerbraten sauce was different, good, but somehow stronger. This was very unusual, but today was when I chose to review them. In the past I've noticed things like an over-salted dish or too much mayonnaise in a salad. Also, I used to dream of making beef goulash as good as their's, but now I'd just call it average.

Recommendations. There are too many items to sample them all in one or even two visits. I suggest you go for the ethnic items, and skip the generic salads, breads, cold cuts, sausages, chicken, carving station, and desserts. I usually get one plate of cold food and then immediately return for a plate of hot food. They don't have trays. Service is iffy; they tend to put the inexperienced people on the buffet. Basically, they pour the champagne and juice "like they're paying for it" and try to take plates before you're done. But, you have to try it, when you're very hungry.