Saturday, June 27, 2009

Brauhaus Schmitz soft opening

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.

23 comments:

---Guy said...

Sounds great! I'll have to visit soon.

You touched on one of my pet peeves. Potato salad in Germany does NOT contain bacon. And it's served cold.

In the US for some reason "German potato salad" always has bacon and is usually served warm/hot.

So my hat's off to Brauhaus Schmitz for getting it right.

geoffrobinson said...

Most important Philly bar opening, by far, this year. I hope to go next Thursday.

Tom E said...

Mmmmm... Stoudt's Gold....

http://destinationbeer.blogspot.com/

Lew Bryson said...

I'm okay with cold, cold's good. But Guy...everything tastes better with a little speck.

Anonymous said...

Hey Lew

Thanks for the quick review. Been looking forward to this opening for a while. On a side note, how was the staff? (Doug and Kelly aside) I hate when a speacialty beer bar hires staff who don't care to learn anything about the great beer they serve. Course, with a draft list like that, it's not a deal-breaker.

Lew Bryson said...

I hate to admit...we didn't really test the staff on beer knowledge because the options were so good and we were so jazzed at seeing this stuff on offer that we just short-circuited them and ordered. Bad form on my part as a reviewer, but damn, I wanted that beer! We had two servers, one of whom was a trainee. The mentor seemed to know what she was talking about, and the trainee was bright and personable. I'm optimistic. Could have gone to the bar, maybe another time.

Anonymous said...

I also was at Brauhaus last night.
The servers I dealt with were quite knowledgeable. I actually was served by the woman in your picture; she was on point, and knew her stuff.

One question came up with my group and I'd like your opinion.
What beer do you find changes character the most as it warms? I find that some German beers really become more flavorful as they transition from ice cold to cellar or room temp. I think Aventinus really benefits from a gradual warming in the glass.

Steven said...

"Zigeuenerschnitzel"

Oh my. My longing for the old country has grown even more. Maybe Philly is a cheaper flight!

jp said...

Ach du Lieber! Sounds very nice, pictures look like they really went all out gypsie schnitzels and all. 7.50 for 0.5l of Jever seems pretty steep though. In comparison a 1.0L of Helles or Pils is 6.75 @ Hoffbrauhaus in Pittsburgh.

Lew Bryson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jp said...

$9.00 seems pretty reasonable that is the way to go

Russ said...

Looking at their beer list, that's a pretty good selection. A lot of the German restaurants here (Chicago) simply offer six types of Pils. I find it curious that they have the Bayerischer Bahnhof Berliner Weisse rather than their Gose (as it's a Leipzig brewery that specializes in Gose) but if they get a rotating selection of Bayerischer Bahnhof brews on tap that's a pretty good score on their part. And Uerige Sticke? You can't beat that!

Lew Bryson said...

Agreed, Russ: you can't beat the Uerige Sticke with a ...stick. Duh. Sorry. The Schlenkerla Helles? I hope they keep it on forever!

Kelly said...

Doug the owner here.... Jever is $5.50 for a .5L... Lew drank the Berliner Weiss which is 0.3L and yes is $7.50... definitely a bit pricey but we did special order it because there aren't many Berliner Weiss available... We have the same problem with Uerige Sticke Alt... .3L for $7.50... but you should see what the kegs cost!! There may also be the possibility that something was rung in incorrectly being our soft opening...

Kelly said...

Doug again... my mistake Lew had the Aecht Schlenkerla Helles....and yes it is 7.50.... Why don't I just post the prices on the website to avoid confusion....

Lew Bryson said...

My mistake, Doug! And I apologize. I did have the Helles, and that was $7.50, the Jever was $5.50, but it did look like a 0.3 liter glass...is that right?

I'll put the rest of my previous comment here:
Remember, though: Hofbräu is making their own, which gives you more options (and no Euro exchange rate, which has trended sharply up lately); and South Street is one expensive address in Philly.
The $9 liters of Hausbrau are a much better deal.

Lew Bryson said...

And as far as that goes, the Helles is worth it at $7.50, as would the Berliner Weisse be: I almost got one of them.
I still like the Hausbrau at 9 bucks, though!

Russ said...

Hey Doug-

I'm guessing most of us who love German beer understand how costly some of these kegs are. $7.50 for 0.3L hurts, but it's still a lot cheaper than my last trip to Bamberg! I just hope with more places like yours opening that more smaller German breweries start to export to the U.S. Uerige's new kegging line (which I'm assuming is why you can offer it on tap) is a good start in the right direction... My company's headquartered in Philly and I assure you I'll be stopping by the next time I'm in town. Prost!

~Russ

jp said...

why would Berliner Weiss be so much more? Is it hard to get or is that waldmeister syrup expensive? do people ever drink it without that syrup? I was never a fan but I could how those sour beer fans would go for it. I liked that Schultheiss and Buergerbraeu was a good beer as well

Lew Bryson said...

BWeisse is rare, they have to make their money on small amounts. Far as I know, it may be hard to make, too. But I do prefer it without the syrup, particularly the green. I do like a little bit of raspberry and ice, but these days...I like it straight.

jp said...

it is like some kind of low ABV weak wiessbier right? Whats the hook?

Lew Bryson said...

It's not really a "weissbier" like the Bavarian ones at all, a different kind of beer altogether. Sour, piercing, but quite drinkable. German-sour, not funky. I've been drinking it for years, like the stuff. Great for a hot afternoon, I bought it by the sixer when I could find it.

jp said...

ah that is why its sour, kind of like those belgian wheat beers but lower abv. I get it now.