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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Sausage, Beer and Kraut

Milwaukee’s heritage in full flavor at Old German Beer Hall

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Milwaukee's German heritage goes back centuries. Options for dining out on food from the fatherland, however, tend to be pricy. The Old German Beer Hall bucks the trend by offering a less expensive place to sample the cuisine of one of the ethnicities most associated with the city.

Based on the appearance of the ample room behind the bar up front, facilitating friendship seems to be one of the hall’s intentions. Similar to establishments common in Germany, long tables of blond, polished wood fill the space. Instead of individual chairs, backless benches sit on each side of the table. Come during especially busy hours and you're apt to get to know those munching on either side of you a little better during the course of your meal.

Though the Old German Beer Hall is international in style, local flavors dominate. Usinger’s meats from the nearby plant figure prominently on a menu heavy on sausages in sandwiches ($4-$5) and by the plateful. As for the latter, the Wurstplatte ($13.50) comes with bratwurst, knackwurst made with beef and pork and pork-veal weisswurst alongside sauerkraut, German potato salad flecked with bacon and rye bread. If the brats look more like foot-long wieners, don't fret. They're made in the Old Country tradition, leaving plenty to hang over each side of a standard American bun. Honeyed dark mustard served alongside the sausages (on request) not only enhances the meats, but also serves to complement the appropriately sour kraut. The little German dish called sptzle can be doughy; the Beer Hall’s variation turns the dumplings into crisp little bites (all sides listed here $2).

The Beer Hall also offers reasonably priced plates of pork chop ($6) and beef rouladen ($9). In keeping with local tradition, a half-pound fish fry ($8) with rye, coleslaw and—as they say in Germany as well as France—pommes frites can be had all day Friday.

If beer isn't an option for you—especially, perhaps, during afternoon hours—root beer from Stevens Point Brewery makes for a tasty nonalcoholic way to wash down the rib-sticking food. Beer drinkers will find at least one other Wisconsin beverage—an amber brew made by Monroe's Minhas—among the list of German imports, mostly from the Hofbruhaus Mnchen (Munich Beer House) brand whose logo is sported on the hall’s signage. More adventurous tipplers can opt for beers mixed with lemon-lime soda or cola. One of the four wine offerings can receive a cola mix as well. All drinks are served in liters or proportions thereof.

The lunch special of one sandwich and a side dish with a dab of kraut runs from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. ($5 if ordered with root beer) and makes for a thrifty way to sample one of Downtown's Teutonic highlights.

Old German Beer Hall

1009 N. Old World Third St.

(414) 226-2728

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