Classic Amana Family Style
An Amana Colonies Tradition
Family Style dining is an Amana tradition and while these restaurants also serve delicious plated meals it’s the family style bowls of side dishes that has its roots in our history and makes this a unique experience. If you have never had an Amana Colonies Family Style meal you need to put it on your list of things to experience.
Communal era Amana was home to over 50 communal kitchens. These kitchens fed about 40 people 5 times a day and were established as an efficient way to feed the community. A kitchen boss would run the operation and she would be in charge of a group of ladies both young and old that would tend the 2-3 acre produce garden or help cook and serve the meal. The meat would be portioned out equally but all of the remaining items on the menu would be served in large bowls and passed around the table. This was family style and it is how our famous restaurants were born.
At the end of the communal era (1932), when tourism began to flourish there was a need to feed our visitors and the easiest way, and the way we knew, was family style; just like in the communal kitchens. This practice continues today. Here’s how it works with some helpful hints:
- You review the menu and select your entrée.
- A server will then bring you an empty plate and bowls of cold sides to pass around your table. If someone finishes one of the bowls and you would like more, simply ask your server, they’ll refill it. (Helpful Hint: pickled ham and pickled beets are now ala carte items. Do yourself a favor and order them. It’s a taste of old Amana and you’ll love it)
- After the cold sides course, your entrée will appear (no refills on the entrée but it will be ample in size) followed by more family style bowls, this time hot vegetables, sauerkraut, and potatoes. Don’t worry you salad lovers, they will keep those bowls on the table also. Same policy here on the refills, just ask your server.
- Dessert generally is additional but well worth it. (Helpful Hint: I have seen many first timers fill up so much on the salads that they could barely make it through the entrée and couldn’t even consider dessert. Pace yourself and save a little room for strudel or some rhubarb pie. You can even have a little ice cream on top)