I was in Leipzig, Germany recently, having a day where I spent most of the time getting lost. I knew I had reservations for dinner and a show at the Krystallpalast Variete caberet and restaurant. I had gotten on the wrong tram and only had a vague idea which direction I should go. I squeezed my eyes shut — frustration? Ready to cry? — and like a desert oasis, I saw a sign leading to a small alley where the theater is!
I have been to lots of dinner theater setups of all stripes: most of which are so lamentable, I make people laugh at bars just describing them! There was one dinner buffet where the audience median age was about 100 and the food was appropriate to the Last Rites set. There was another dinner theatrical place that had two bread courses and the servers put their hands on people, tried to take off their shirts and demanded tips for the “massage”!
So, it was with trepidation that I walked in, but I truly had a wonderful time. I was very happy to be hosted to be able to experience it. In 1882, the Vaudeville-style theater palace was built to replace another theatrical recreation center that already had 50 years of entertainment history. In those 50 previous years, John King of Saxony, Emperor William and Johann Strauss, Jr. all enjoyed themselves there. When the Krystallpalast opened, it hosted a variety of acts, ranging from Josephine Baker to famous clowns of the day. The theater was completely demolished in 1943 as a result of bombing during WWII.
The theater was reopened in 1997. Their pamphlets and marketing materials feature many sepia toned – yet very clear — photos of what the area around the theater was like in the days of yore. There are Edwardian era shots of the bustling street, with the visible expressions of people and stores long gone. They almost bring a tear to the eye for the way life used to be!
Dinner is a prix-fixe arrangement with wine and cocktails extra. The decor is a mix of warm cream tones with medium wood and royal blue accents. The lighting is bright enough that you can take friends and not feel like you are only relegated to taking your romantic interest. The waitstaff is very, very kind: what a pleasure!
I started the evening with their house aperitif made with Lillet into a light berry wine spritzer garnished with a grape.
After the server wished me “Good appetite,” I was offered a trio of amuse bouches: mushrooms with flower herb marinade, sweet potato crisps with curried apples, pink peppercorns and fried chicken livers. They were really good! The dishes were held in place by dabs of cream cheese. They were so appealing, I started tucking in before taking the pic! That says a lot. The server was kind enough to go back to the kitchen and take some snaps of them being prepared.
For dinner, I ordered a tender leg of lamb with brown gravy.
Dessert was a two parter: berry compote in a little dish with chocolate tuille, along with a strawberry cream cake that had a more natural flavor, rather than being candy-sweet.
The cabaret itself was in the main theater, where you can order drinks and snacks if you like. It was really amusing, with acrobatics and music. You really don’t have to understand any German, which makes it perfect for travelers.