Fine dining is one of the delicacies of life that I take seriously, so my excitement was high as I approached Karlings Seafood and German at 4640 U.S. Highway 17 in DeLeon Springs.
Karlings is a melting pot of classic fine dining, traditional German classics, luscious seafood and — according to locals — some of the best prime rib around.
The restaurant has been owned and operated since 2003 by the husband-and-wife team of Chef Jimmy and Lily Buzza.
Chef Jimmy brings more than 35 years’ experience to the table with a degree in the culinary arts and a degree in agriculture. Lily Buzza has a degree in hospitality management.
The two met in Europe when they were 18 years old, before coming to Florida and purchasing Karlings Seafood and German restaurant from the original owner, who had opened the restaurant in 1982.
Pulling in from U.S. 17, you’re greeted by a sign in the colors of the German flag, and a building in the style of a Middle German house, with juniper shrubbery and stone masonry lining the front.
Pull open the stained-glass and wood door to find a soothing and classic fine-dining environment. The glossed-wood tables are perfectly set with glassware, silverware rolled in floral napkins on the bread plate, and candles.
I sat with my guest in a corner booth with leather seats. Our server, Leslie Sanchez, laid down menus and poured us filtered water from a bottle into leaning-tower water glasses.
The diverse menu of culinary distinction was impressive in the small village of DeLeon Springs. Selections include Veal Imperial, escargots, filet mignon, trout amandine, mushroom-encrusted coquilles (scallops), and Chilean sea bass.
We started with a Nordic cold-smoked salmon flatbread presented with shrimp, chorizo and a spicy white barbecue sauce. The first bite gave me chills of happiness. Sweet, spicy and smoky combined with diverse textures to form a perfect storm of flavor.
“I source the freshest and very best products for our restaurant and menu. We make everything from scratch, and bake all our bread daily in-house,” Chef Jimmy said.
We also tried mushrooms stuffed with shrimp and andouille sausage, and baked with fontina cheese. The three large mushrooms were served piping hot, breaded, and explosive with flavor.
Deciding on an entree was difficult, but I wanted to try something I’d never experienced. I went with the veal rahmschnitzel, because German cuisine is a specialty at Karlings.
Rahmschnitzel is a version of schnitzel — meat pounded thin and usually breaded and fried — that is made with either veal or pork and incorporates a cream sauce and, usually, mushrooms.
The portion size was very large. The veal was tender with perfect texture from the breading, and the creamy mushroom wine sauce with shallots told me I’d found my new favorite schnitzel.
I came back a week later to try dessert, as I was too full after my meal. Chef Jimmy prepared his dark-chocolate mousse, served in a housemade walnut basket with fresh strawberries and whipped cream. The richness, savoriness, and a beautiful presentation make this a top dessert.
Karlings Seafood and German offers a nice selection of wine from around the globe to pair with your cuisine, and features the German beer Warsteiner, along with other selections.
The restaurant has a private room, called the Wine Nook, for parties, while the dining room is set up for semiprivate dining.
Although it’s not required, Karlings always prefers that diners make reservations. During the busy holiday season, this is an especially good idea.
West Volusia should be proud to have Karlings Seafood and German restaurant in DeLeon Springs for those wanting a memorable dining experience.