Fritz and Frites: Galena Restaurant Blends French and German Cuisine
When Galena, Illinois, chefs Fred and Karyn Grzeslo opened a small European bistro on Main Street in 2006, they had no idea it would quickly become the city’s most popular dining destination. Their friendly neighborhood diner, Fritz and Frites, has been a top-rated eatery on the travel website TripAdvisor for the past five years.
“People always tell us they feel like they’ve been transported to Paris when they eat here,” Fred Grzeslo says. “It’s nice and quiet, and even though we’re on Main Street, we’re situated away from traffic.”
Giving Galena International Flavor
Grzeslo grew up in a Polish-German neighborhood in Chicago, where he developed a love for German food. He met Karyn while they both were honing their cooking skills at a culinary school that emphasized the art of French cuisine. The husband-and-wife team combined German and French traditions to create Fritz and Frites, with its black and white tile floor, white linens and impressive wine list.
“My wife came up with the name for the restaurant – Fritz is German for Fred, and Frites is French for french fries, so it’s a little of both,” Grzeslo says.
Wiener Schnitzel and Pomme Frites
Fritz and Frites’ best-selling dish is the wiener schnitzel, or breaded veal cutlet, served with sauerkraut or red cabbage and spaetzle, a dumpling.
“We pound the veal until it’s paper-thin – you can hear us pounding it if you’re sitting in the dining room,” Grzeslo says. “Then we bread it and sauté it in butter.”
The hanger steak is another popular dish that keeps Fritz and Frites in business.
“When you order steak frites in Paris, it is a hanger steak – a small cut from a cow that you can’t always find at a butcher shop,” Grzeslo says. “We’re very happy to be able to serve that.”
The steak is topped with parsley butter and served with pomme frites – a tall, tangled pile of thin and crispy fries.
Poulet roti (garlic roasted chicken), tilapia and salmon with lingonberry sauce are also on the menu, and each dish is flavored with fresh herbs.
“We make sure everything is fresh. We live on a five-acre farm, and we grow a lot of our herbs and produce there,” Grzeslo says. “We also have a plot of herbs growing behind the restaurant, so when someone orders a dish, we can pick the herbs right then.”