Schweinehaus, the newest addition to the resurgence of Overton Square, received an enthusiastic willkommen as customers lined around the block for its early September opening. With the slogan “A celebration of pork and bier” in the city where the pig reigns supreme, who wouldn’t be excited?
The boisterous German beer hall, opened by brothers Andy and Chef David Scott Walker, brings the spirit of Oktoberfest to the Memphis table with locally influenced Bavarian cuisine, German and local draft beer, and Masskrugstemmen, a traditional Bavarian bier stein holding contest.
I’m a beer-drinking pork-loving girl; so a few days after the restaurant opened I invited a couple of friends to meet me there around 6 p.m. hoping to bypass the wait.
Inside the cream-colored walls and dark paneling of the open space, families toting kids mixed with the after-work crowd at rustic communal wooden tables. An inviting patio offered ample seating outside as well. But as the sun set, the already amped-up room became a roaring, bawdy, authentic beer hall.
Relaying our order, mainly multisyllabic German dishes, to the server over the droning sound of the beer hall was a challenge. My friend decided on the Brezel Fische, panko breaded cod, but received the Brezel, or baked pretzel — a fortuitous mishap. We washed down the soft chewy bread with our lagers.
We also tried the wild boar sausage from the chef’s daily wurst selection; fried Brussels; kartoffelpuffer (potato pancakes); beer cheese soup; and the mull spatzle.
For a classic German meal, try the Konigsberger Klopse, German meatballs with a caper cream sauce; the sauerbraten, braised brisket served with spatzle mac and cheese; roasted Brussels sprouts and a pan sauce; or the jagerschnitzel, fried pork cutlets topped with a traditional hunter sauce.
Behind the bar choose from 12 different beers on tap, nine German and three local, in liter, half-liter, or 8-oz. sizes. If beer’s not for you, have a look at the wine or drink list instead.
Executive chef David Todd describes the comprehensive menu as “75 percent German and 25 percent local Southern comfort food.” The restaurant’s choices do offer something for everyone with the standard breakdown of appetizers, soups and salads, sandwiches, entrees, and sides. The food is moderately priced. A brat and a half-liter of beer costs around $15.
Scratched across the chalkboard is a running tally of Masskrugstemmen champions who flexed their beer muscles in the traditional Bavarian bier stein holding contest. The rules are simple. With an outstretched arm hold a liter of beer at a 90-degree angle and long as you can. So far, the time to beat is in the 6-minute range.
Schweinehaus serves lunch all week beginning at 11 a.m. and stays open Sunday through Wednesday until midnight. Thursday through Saturday, the restaurant serves until 2 a.m.
Schweinehaus, 2110 Madison Ave. (347-3060)
Schweinehaus, Overton Square’s newcomer serving Bavarian cuisine and some Southern-style comfort food, is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner.