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The Breslau Hotel was the place everyone went to for rolled ribs

The old Breslau Hotel had a strong Cambridge connection, including a stint from yours truly

At the old Breslau Hotel, it would be normal to serve up 500 patrons on a Friday evening enjoying the famous buffet.

The Bres', as the regulars called it, was very well known for serving up a lavish 125-item buffet that presented carved prime roast beef, ham shank, and the most favoured stuffed pork ribs and roast pig tails. The rolled pork ribs served with sauerkraut and mashed potatoes were made numbering in the thousands.

I worked here as a line cook and later a chef several years back when it was still owned by the Brohman brothers. Willard, Ciero and Roman operated it back in the early '50s, '60s and '70s.

The new owners once ran Carl's Tavern on the corner of Hespeler Road and Eagle Street and wanted to make the Breslau Hotel a destination once again.

Beginning in the early '50s, Willard, along with his two brothers, proudly operated the hotel next to the railroad stop in Breslau.

It was once a place many local families would stop here to freshen up and wet their whistles.

Willard was cordial, and highly respected, known to all as an outstanding business man who knew the value of honesty and hard work. He was greatly remembered by his employees as kind, humble and supportive to all. 

Over the decades it became a hotel that had many different entertainment venues.

Other owners have since tried to revive the hotel back to its glory days. One of the huge draws back then besides that lavish buffet was the $1.99 Gentleman’s Steak Night featuring a second steak for just a penny. The hotel would be jammed full with local guys treating their ladies to a night out of dining and dancing.

The banquet rooms held lots of musical talent nights, weddings and events like the town's Thursdays stock yards days.

Many good friends and acquaintances had their stag and doe parties and their wedding party dinner. 

When the various area regimens of dairy, pig, or agriculture farmers got together, they would fill the beverage room after that particular farm auction. The Bres' was well rehearsed with security to control a boisterous group.

The local chapters of Satan’s Choice and The Black Jackets made their presence known, turning the parking lot and The Hawks Nest into a biker bar for a spell.

Lots of Wings and Roast Beef on a bun, fries coleslaw and trays of beer sold during this period.

The upper and lower room clubs like The Harlequin was great for meet and greets while The Hawk's Nest featured exotic dancers both male and female.

Pappy’s and Meteor Lounge were the beverage rooms where performers like Ronnie Hawkins, Chubby Checker and Stompin' Tom would entertain the crowds.

Club Dolly’s was the hotel's Country and Western bar where you could line dance and turn your life around to all the local country and western bands.

The place holds many memories for many of us; it once was one of Waterloo County’s best dining establishments.

The home comfort food menu, country dining prices kept diners returning until its final day one Christmas Eve around midnight when the hotel was shut down by the County bailiffs. It remained dormant for several years until it reopened as the Challenge Meateor Lounge, then Challenger One in 1989.

I was told by my dad that the hotel’s rolled ribs were first created by Betty Yantz, along with the pig tails.

The many cooks and chefs working in that kitchen learned how to do these recipes blindfolded.

Mashed potatoes, gravy, coleslaw and sauerkraut were the staple sides to make this meal complete.

Breslau’s Hotel Cabbage Slaw

1 large new green cabbage

 3 ribs of celery chopped

 1 Spanish onion chopped

 1 bell pepper julienne cut

 3 carrots julienne cut

 2 cups of Demerara brown sugar

 Thinly shred the cabbage and in a bowl add the other vegetables and mix with the sugar. Set cabbage mixture aside.

 In a non aluminum pot add these next ingredients:

 1/2 cup of fresh white vinegar

 1/2 cup of fresh apple cider vinegar

 1/2 cup vegetable oil

 1 tsp fresh crushed celery seed

 1 tbsp kosher salt

 ½ tbsp of black pepper

 Bring all to a boil and pour over cabbage, toss mixture and chill overnight.


Breslau Hotel Style Stuffed Ribs

4 split racks of side ribs or baby back ribs depending on your budget (in my opinion the side ribs taste the best because of more fat marbling)

Hand rub the Hy’s Seasoning Salt into the ribs and coil them, secure with a bamboo skewer. Once you have done this let them rest for an hour or so while the oven heats up to 375.

In a roast pan place the 4 or 6 of the rib coils on top of some chopped onions and sauerkraut. Pack them close together; it's okay to be touching.

Now add an equal mixture of garlic, onion, Colemans mustard powder, ground pepper and a kosher salt. Ease up on the salt because there is a good amount in the rib rub and stuffing.

Sprinkle the season salt on like snow over each rolled portion. Now place on the middle oven rack and roast uncovered for 60 minutes without opening the oven.

While that's happening, make the stuffing.

 Start with a medium hot fry pan and fry up about a half pound of cut up bacon. Pour off the rendered bacon grease just before starting to brown.

 Add in a chopped onion and a rib of celery. Continue to sauté on medium high heat stirring to evenly cook.

 Add in these seasonings, thyme and sage, chicken soup base, pepper.

Continue to sauté and deglaze with some white wine.

Loosen up that cooked-on residue and continue to stir.

 Add in some chicken bone stock. Adding this moisture will add extra flavour and will make the bacon mixture soft and tasty.

Now get the day-old crusty bread cubes in a bowl. This bread load is about a loaf of french bread or white sliced with some of the crust removed.

 Add in a fresh cracked egg and pour over the hot mixture and blend in.

Now add about 2 ounces of milk and a few more ounces of the chicken stock. Just enough to soften up the bread. Mix by hand till all the bread is coated. It should be suitably moist but not soggy.

You now have some ready set stuffing to stuff into the par baked ribs. Set aside.

With that left-over bacon fat add equal amounts of flour and in a frypan cook until you have a dark roux. About 9 minutes cooking, add chicken stock and any pan roast juices left over for making the gravy.

Remove the rib coils from the oven and spoon in the stuffing, Follow through on the other ribs. Now, put the roaster lid on and set the timer for 150 minutes. Do not open the door. The meat tenderness and aroma at the end of 2.5 hours roasting will tell you it's done.

Remove using a spatula and let set on a platter. Return the gravy pan and heat till simmering and mixing in any residue drippings from the roaster for extra flavours.

Drizzle some of the hot bacon gravy over top of the stuffed ribs.

 Apple sauce, coleslaw and mashed potato sauerkraut are the sides.

Today I found good stuffed ribs in Tavistock at a local family run eatery called Quehl's.

Chef Wayne Conrad Serbu writes monthly for CambridgeToday. The former executive chef also shares recipes and memories from his more than five decades in the hospitality industry on his blog, the kitchenman.