The rebirth of Overton Square has made it something of a United Nations, with Italian cuisine on the edges, Mexican food buttressing the ends and a German beer hall cozied up next to Japanese Robata. It’s nice to see Memphis expanding the palate … it makes an evening out a real adventure! Today, though, we’re focusing on the beer hall component of this new map, with a visit to Schweinehaus. Das is gut?
WHAT TO EXPECT
Schweinehaus, a self-described celebration of pork and beer, is a fantastic place to go with a big group of friends who want to chug beer from steins and eat with abandon. It is NOT, however, the place to go for an intimate date night, to have a quiet chat or to have dinner with a people who are watching what they eat. Schweinehaus patrons typically enjoy the opportunity to taste different beers, order fried bacon-y and bread-y appetizers and big platters of sausages and dig in. Now that the expectations are clear, let’s get to the nitty-gritty.
Anyone who remembers Paulette’s will see the bones here—plaster walls with dark wood beams. But the room has been transformed into an Oktoberfest-style beer hall, filled with large, communal tables with bench seating and a bar with TV screens tuned to sports channels. Servers are dressed in Germanic clothing to add to the authenticity.
The beer menu is generous, with local and international offerings available in three sizes (liter, half-liter and 8-ounce) so you can taste several varieties or heft a large tankard of your favorite. There is a full bar, as well, and wines, both red and white, are available by the glass or the bottle. The hearty, German-inspired food, though, really calls out for a good beer.
WHAT TO ORDER
Start with the fried Brussels appetizer in all of its bacon-y, onion-y, greasy goodness. The best thing most people can say about most Brussels sprout dishes is you can’t even tell they’re Brussels sprouts, and this dish definitely fits the bill. The Brezel is a plate-size pretzel; it’s not anything groundbreaking, but it is a properly soft and salty pretzel with very tasty spicy mustard and a beer cheese dip on the side.
My best recommendation for the table is the wurst platter, a selection of sausages served with crispy, dense potato pancakes, braised red cabbage and a variety of sauces. The blackboard lists the sausage selections, and I enjoyed the Schweinehaus special and the venison, both with hearty texture and nice snap to the casing.
Using spaetzle, the simple dumpling/noodle hybrid of German and Austrian cuisine, in a mac and cheese dish is ingenious. The soft curls don’t compete with a good cheese sauce, and the Schweinehaus version is creamy with a very pronounced horseradish tang. The spaetzle is also available as a lovely bowl served with seasonal vegetables and sage butter.
We finished our meal with a nice apple walnut strudel, which was warm and not too sweet with a scoop of ice cream melting over it. The ice cream sandwich was served attractively wrapped, and a black forest cake served in a jar suffered from what most of the trendy desserts in jars do—it was difficult to eat all the elements in harmonious bites. Check the chalkboard for additional dessert offerings.
Make no mistake, this is big food. With metal trays laden with hearty fare meant to be dug into, it’s a real meat-and-potatoes menu. The goal, say founders Andy Walker and Chef David Scott Walker, was to bring a bit of Memphis soul to traditional German dishes, and overall, they deliver. The menu has some hits and some misses, but all that beer and food definitely make for a very fun and memorable outing. Prost!
Schweinehaus is located at 2110 Madison Ave., Memphis. Learn more at (901) 347-3060 or visit schweinehaus.com.
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