Cafe’ International is quite likely Helen’s most popular restaurant. Its patio by the river is unmatched, but the food has never impressed. The menu of sandwiches served with potato salad and chips reminds me of a picnic, not an international cafe. Spaghetti and lasagna add some Italian flair for the totally unadventurous.
Arriving in the midst of the lunch rush on a gorgeous Saturday, me and my Mom were pleasantly surprised to be seated almost immediately at a choice table, covered with a hideously printed and slightly sticky plastic tablecloth, along the rail overlooking the Chattahoochee. An endless stream of bright pink intertubes floated lazily along, carrying their screaming teenage passengers past the BBQ place, fudge shop, and tattoo parlor.
When in Helen I do like the Bavarians and eat some wurst. Mom and I split a platter containing a knockwurst, a bratwurst, and a smoked pork chop, served with sauerkraut and German potato salad. The meal also came with a side salad that she was craving, a shallow bowl of flacid iceberg with a few bits of cucumber and tomato. Sticking with the international theme, she got the Greek dressing.
Service was friendly and prompt. A warm loaf of dark bread was delivered along with the wurst platter. It’s the exact same bread they serve at The Highland Tap…soft rather than crusty. The brat’s casing had been removed giving it an odd texture, while the knockwurst remained tightly encased, making a popping sound when cut. Both had nice flavor. Overcooked and tough as shoe leather, the smoked pork chop was mediocre at best. Nothing like the ribbchen of my childhood, the pink chops heated with the sauerkraut, making the salty meat super tender. Sauerkraut was standard but the potato salad, which looked like it came out of a can, lacked the vinegary pucker and bits of bacon typical of the German style.
Considering the exorbitant prices of neighboring restaurants, our lunch was a good deal. Altogether, we were quite pleased with our visit to Cafe’ International.
8546 S. Main Street, Helen, GA 706-878-3102