Cathy and I went down to the soft opening at Brauhaus Schmitz tonight...ah, Germanness. Teutonicity. It's a nice space, and yes, that's wood at the entrance, right on South Street (there's a nice little concrete fresco on the sidewalk as you enter, too).
We were greeted by Doug Hager, clearly overjoyed to finally be open. He welcomed us, told us to sit anywhere, but we took the opportunity to walk around a bit: the bar, the taps, the interesting 2nd floor with its low ceiling (like a rathskellar on the 2nd floor) and balcony overlooking the bar. Then we sat in the front, and Jess and Amy, our dirndl'd waitresses, took care of us.
I had a Schlenkerla Helles (draft, beautiful), Cathy a crisp glass of Jever. (The beers are not cheap, the 0.5 liter helles was $7.50, but look, you're on South Street, and Philly's not cheap any more; besides, at least it's an honest half liter instead of a 13 oz. shaker "pint.") We got obatzda (cheese butter with caraway and rye bread, done quite well and with enough bread for the spread) and potato pancakes (crisp, light, not oily).
There was also a bread plate, and God bless Doug and Kelly for that: I think it is one of the Crimes of Food that German bread is not fawned over like French bread. Germans have almost as many breads as they have sausages, and it's great. Go, get bread (remember: soft pretzels are bread, and every city's pretzels are different).
Entrees: Cathy got the Gemüsespatzele, spatzele with asparagus and cheese (and other stuff, don't press me), simply delicious. I had the Zigeuenerschnitzel, a crisp yet tender schnitzel with a pepper and onion sauce; sides were rotkohl (maybe a bit too flavorful) and potato salad (where was the speck?). Very good, even better with our second round of beers: a bottle of Augustiner Maximator for Cathy and a liter of Brauhaus Hausbrau (Stoudt's Gold) for me. We split an apple strudel, and groaned as we left.
Overall? 8 out of 10. A couple of small things could be improved, and we told Doug about them. But the space? Great. The menu? True German. The beers? Excellent, draft and bottle. The location? A bit weird when we left, like walking out of Munich into South Street.
I'd suggest doing what we did: toddling around the corner and down 7th St. to Chick's. Walked right into the bar, and said to Phoebe: we have time for one cocktail, what should it be? She rose to the occasion, asked a few questions, and made one, right on the spot, with Laird's Apple Brandy, Grand Marnier, Canton ginger liqueur, and her own Phoebe's Heart of Darkness bitters (strawberries, cacao nibs, and orange peel). Very nice, not sweet (which was one of the things we determined in the cocktail interview), and for a bespoke cocktail...very reasonably priced.
But...it was also quite hefty, and it quickly became apparent to me that it would be best if Cathy drove home.
Brauhaus Schmitz (and Chick's) are going to be on My List. Schmitz won't be open tomorrow, but keep an ear out; they'll be open for good soon, Monday or Tuesday. Go. Drink. Eat. Enjoy.