When he was 13 years old, Uwe Backen was a pin-up boy in Germany.
Nothing scandalous mind you, he just reset the bowling pins at his mother's tavern/bowling alley in Hamburg.
It was so much fun that when he came to a career crossroads, he decided to return to the tavern life--this time in Silver Lake at the Red Lion German restaurant and bar.
The move came in 1980, after 12 years as owner of a shop in Torrance's Alpine Village selling beer steins and cuckoo clocks. In a divorce settlement, his wife got the shop. He bought the Red Lion.
There are two dining areas: a boisterous downstairs bar area and a quiet, cavernous upstairs room with wine casks and white plaster walls.
The most popular dish is the half roast duck ($14.95) stuffed with sour apples and served with dumplings, red cabbage and cranberry sauce. Schweinebraten ($10.95) is roasted pork loin with mashed potatoes and red cabbage.
Amid the schnitzel and wurst on the menu, one dish sticks out like a 1959 Cadillac at a Mercedes factory: deep-fried orange roughy ($10.95). Of course, one comes to the Red Lion to enjoy a truly authentic tavern feel while quaffing some German beer on tap. The assorted sausage platter ($10.95) is the best accompaniment.
\o7 The Red Lion Tavern is at 2366 Glendale Ave., Los Angeles. (213) 662-5337. Open every day from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.\f7