|Courtesy of Brauhaus Schmitz
"German food is more than schnitzels, sausages, and sauerkraut." So says Jeremy Nolen
, whos been serving scads of all three at Teutonic taproom Brauhaus Schmitz
(718 South St.) since it opened in 2009. "In Germany now, you would find a lot lighter cooking and definitely modern techniques," he adds. Thursdays through Sundays, Nolan explores this contemporary side of the countrys cuisine with a separate specials menu of "New German Cooking" featuring apps and mains priced $10 to $18.
"We're taking traditional German and more northern European traditional ingredients" Nolen's sous chef, Henrick Ringborn
, is Swedish "and creating new dishes with them," says the chef. "We use a lot of seasonal ingredients and produce that would be used in German kitchens, like salsify, fresh horseradish, dill, ramps, wild mushrooms, spruce oil, turnips, kale, malt, pumpkin seed oil and more."
Spruce oil? Nolen deploys the forest-scented ointment to grilled yellow-foot mushrooms paired with cold-smoked venison carpaccio. (Didnt we just read about cold-smoking somewhere?
) Other specials the chef has run include braised lamb belly with rye späetzle, black poplar mushrooms and romanesco; sweetbread schnitzel with amaranth, fennel and apple salad; and porcini maultaschen, a type of German ravioli, glossed with pumpernickel butter.
Because Brauhaus' pretzels and masterfully spiced brats are damn near impossible to resist, the standard menu is still available on New German nights. But well gladly make room at the table for Nolans new cottage industry. The approach is kind of thrilling when you think about it: Classic German is rare enough here (ironic considering the land bred some of PAs earliest settlers), let alone modern. No one else is doing it and thats not a statement to make easily in this town.
And it's only going to get better. This spring, Nolan is heading to Germany to stage with a few restaurants and breweries, Aecht Schlenkerla
among them. "Last year we did a collaborative dinner with Schlenkerla, where the chef and brewer came here and we had a five-course tasting with their beer," says Nolen. "The chef, Wolfgang, and I emailed each other back and forth to collaborate on a menu and then the day of he came and cooked with us all day. I've been emailing him, so I should be going there to do something similar." Godspeed.