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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Von Trier's New Menu Is a Natural

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When Karl Lotharius remodeled an ordinary corner tavern and endowed it with Germanic charm in the late 1970s, Von Trier was born. The bar immediately had a unique sense of atmosphere, with its murals of German scenes, stained-glass windows and collection of beer steins. Years later, Von Trier expanded by adding a back room. The centerpiece is a magnificent wrought-iron chandelier that once hung in the entry hall of the Pabst mansion. (The legendary Cyril Colnik, whose work is on display at Villa Terrace Decorative Art Museum, crafted the chandelier.) In late 2009 Von Trier was purchased by John and Cindy Sidoff, the owners of Hooligan's, another well-known bar located across the street from Von Trier.

The Sidoffs gave the interior a much-needed cleaning. The murals are now as vibrant as the day they were painted. The beer list remains much the same, but there is an important new development: Von Trier has recently started to serve food.

The menu follows the current trend of serving “small plates.” They tend to be inspired by German and French dishes, including a sausage plate and chicken fricassee.

A good way to start is to order a bottle of Weihenstephaner Hefe Weissbier and down it with German pretzels ($6), a pair of salted pretzels accompanied by mustard and obatzda. The latter is a Bavarian cheese spread that has not been seen locally since the Bavarian Wurst Haus closed its doors years ago.

Vegetarians will enjoy this menu. There is a plate offering two types of hummus ($7), roasted red pepper with chickpeas and green peas with feta cheese, served with mint couscous and bread. Vegetarian or not, everyone should order the roasted apple and fennel ($7), flavorful slices of apple served over arugula with mustard vinaigrette and crumbled blue cheese. This is quite a contrast to the casual pub fare served at so many bars.

Flatbread pizzas are a specialty on this new menu. There are four options, including one that changes daily. The duck confit flatbread ($10) really stands out. This very cheesy flatbread features a base of béchamel sauce with fontina and asiago cheeses, pieces of duck meat and a pinot noir reduction. Another option is topped with wild mushrooms ($10), combining shiitake, baby portobello and oyster mushrooms with herbs, caramelized onions and Gruyere and asiago cheeses.

You will find suggested beer and wine pairings for most items on the menu, but don't be afraid to trust your own instincts. The menu seems like such a natural fit for Von Trier. The place also is just right for the neighborhood—one of the nicest settings for blocks around. This is another winner for the Sidoffs.

Von Trier

2235 N. Farwell Ave.

(414) 272-1775

$$

Credit cards: MC, VS

www.vontriers.com

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