In the past few years my mom and I have started to celebrate birthdays and holidays with a day of shopping and dining, rather than gift-giving. Since it was my mom’s birthday last week, we set out for such an outing. We went to Brauhaus Schmitz (which is conveniently located on the same block as our favorite consignment shop, Greene Street). I’ve been here before and I knew my mom would love it, given my parent’s recent trip to Munich, and that it’s “Philadelphia’s only authentic bierhall and restaurant”.
Despite my German heritage, I never really got into German food until I was older, besides the Snickerdoodle cookies my grandmother lovingly and expertly made. At age eleven, I went to an International Summer Camp in Hamburg, Germany, and unfortunately my immature palette found German food “yucky”. Das ist shade! But now I love all the wursts, the pickles, the cabbage, and potatoes…
Brauhuas Schmitz gives off the German bierhall vibe straight away from it’s exterior, with it’s wooden arches beckoning you to come in. Inside, it’s a towering space, with open second floor seating. The tall walls are bedecked with vintage posters from Germany. The massive bar is the central focus, a mecca of beers on draft and in bottles. Since we were there for lunch, the crowd was low key. But as I’ve been there on a Saturday night, I know this place gets packed, with traditionally dressed barmaids swinging giant liters of beer to their patrons.
Of course after a laborious day of shopping we needed something to cool off. A modest half liter of the Hofbrau Original on draft hit the spot, although it was hard to choose from the lengthy beer list. Prost!
We whet our appetite with a cheese plate, including various mustards, pickles, an bread. There was a Limburger, Camembert, a Stilton, and something hard and bitey. I most enjoyed the pine nut and honey spread, sweet and nutty. As well as the Hungarian paprika onion spread, sweet and smokey. We made little work of the cheese while we decided on lunch.
I’ve mentioned before, there are few times when I like to share food (only child alert!) but meals like these, sharing is the way to go. The waiter informed me that if we got the “Two Wursts and Two Sides” we could choose two different wursts. So we got four different wursts, and sides to share between ourselves!
It’s hard to choose favorites, but my mom and I admitted we liked the Ungarischewurst the best. It’s description reads “Hungarian paprika, red wine vinegar, and garlic”, and you could certainly taste all of these. The Bratwurst was probably the most recognizable of flavors, with caraway and marjoram. Speckwurst is made with bacon, and Baurenwurst with beef. I definitely recommend getting the sauerkraut, it’s a traditional side for a reason, it pairs so nicely with the wursts, a little bit with each bite. The Kartoffelpuffer, or potato pancake was dense, in a good way, and not greasy. The Rotkohl, red cabbage, was sweet and delicious, again it pairs nicely with the wursts. And personally, I usually could take or leave Spatzle, which is sort of a noodle dough riced into little nubs, but this was also very tasty.
Needless to say we had a lovely, and filling, lunch. We enjoyed leisurely dining and watching the afternoon happenings of South Street through the large front windows. Our waiter was a superstar, as he was the only one waiting on the entire lunch crowd. And the food was tremendous. I think I prefer to dine here at night with a crowd and the true bierhall experience, but I suppose that’s just another reason to come back!
Read more about the Brauhaus here!