Ahhh, summer dining — icy cocktails, light snacks and seafood galore. Not really what comes to mind when you think “German beer hall.” But think again: Thanks to a new menu, that’s exactly what you’ll find at Brauhaus Schmitz.
Chef Jeremy Nolen just added several dishes designed expressly for warm weather, and they’re as authentic as everything else at the Teutonic tavern.
Nolen’s rich housemade wursts (sausages) and giant schnitzels (pounded, breaded, fried cutlets) are still good as ever, but his stecklerfisch entree is the move during schvitz-inducing temps. Translated, the name means “stick fish,” and it refers to the skewer-roasted seafood that’s a traditional Oktoberfest snack.
“In Germany, they rack up rows of fish in a pyramid over the coals,” Nolen said, smacking his lips at the memory from a recent trip overseas. “When you buy one they just grab it and hand it to you wrapped in newspaper.”
At Brauhaus, you don’t get the stick (or the bonus newsprint flavoring), but the cooking method is the same: A whole mackerel is cleaned, marinated overnight, stuffed with a half-dozen different fresh herbs, then grilled over open flame. The flaky white meat turns out rich — mackerel is a very full-flavored fish — but not at all oily or briny. It’s served with a slew of buttered new potatoes and green beans for $22, and is plenty to share.
Sharing’s an even better idea if you start with the new geräucherte forelle — smoked trout spread. Lighter than most cream-based dips, the consistency like is that of good, fluffy hummus, and it’s very delicately spiced. For spreading, you’re provided a plateful of Wasa rye crackers.
“I thought at first maybe we’d make our own crackers to go with it,” Nolen noted, “but these are just too perfect.” (He’s right.)
The chef has been at the helm of the South Street bierhall since proprietor Doug Hager first opened it eight years ago, though in recent years he’d been spending more time at the company’s newer projects, like Whetstone Tavern and Sky Garten. But last fall, Billy Penn Who’s Nexter and longtime Brauhaus Schmitz chef de cuisine Henrik Ringbom stepped down to move the ‘burbs and concentrate more on family, so Nolen returned to oversee the kitchen himself. “It’s the busiest and biggest of all our spots,” he explained. “It merits my attention.”
It’s all good news for diners, especially because of the summery dishes, which are matched by a new list of schnapps cocktails. Most refreshing is the a beer cocktail called Bierleiche, which translates to “beer zombie” and is a mix of caraway and raspberry schnapps, lemon juice, simple syrup and grenadine over ice, then topped with a splash of lager.
If you don’t care about the heat and still want to get seriously carnivorous, Nolen’s new menu has you covered too: Gather some friends and order the schlachtplatte.
Featuring pork shank, smoked pork chop, every sausage on the menu, bacon sauerkraut and potato dumplings, this giant “butcher’s feast” board is designed to feed four hungry souls for a grand total of $75.