Midwest Living Review
Walking into Zehnder's is reminiscent of family vacations in the 1960s when dinner was taken in the hotel dining room and the menu was filled with familiar foods. And then there's the aroma that greets you the minute you enter the dining room -- chicken dinner. It's what made Zehnder's famous back in 1928, and it's a tradition that continues today. The building housing Zehnder's dates to 1856 when it was The Exchange Hotel, and it's a labyrinth of rooms, including nine separate dining rooms which combined can seat 1,500. More than 3 million guests come a year, drawn by the all-you-can eat chicken dinner (75 percent of diners order the chicken). Served family style in big bowls placed on the white linen tabletops by friendly, efficient servers, the appetizers come out first; these include chicken-noodle soup, coleslaw, cranberry relish, cottage cheese, breads with apple butter, and sharp cheddar cheese and duck pate spreads with garlic toast. We sampled two dinners, both chicken-based. The three-piece chicken plate dinner (a breast, thigh and leg) was accompanied by a large bowl of gravy, mashed potatoes, dressing, noodles and squash puree. Chicken Schnitzel Franconian comes with onions, artichokes and tomatoes heaped on top and a side of spaetzle. While some of the dishes were more successful than others, there's no doubt the quantity of the food makes for an excellent value given the prices ($18.95 for the chicken plate dinner and $19.95 for the schnitzel, appetizers and sides included). We watched a number of multigenerational families passing bowls around the table like it was Sunday dinner at Grandma's.