Dark Beer Über Alles

Harald Neuweg brings back traditional German treats

Among entrées, the Bierhaus offers one special each night, and it's worth going on a Wednesday for Haxen Abend, a roasted pork shank roughly the size of Everglades National Park. The monster was frankly not nearly as moist as the lechon asado roasts I've had in dozens of Miami Cuban eateries, but roasting on the bone plus a thick layer of crackling made the meat most flavorful. And for fans of schnitzels (either Holstein or plain wiener), Tuesday is two-for-one night.

Newly added to the menu (and at $16.95, the most expensive item) is Bierhaus steak au poivre. It was a bit disappointing. The steak was ordered very, very rare but arrived medium-well-done. Replaced rapidly with no argument, the second try came rare enough but was full of gristle, tendons, and other fibrous matter; it was literally impossible to find even a small piece free of unchewable stuff. At least an intense peppery sauce made the tendons tasty.

Beer-battered fish (grouper the night we tried it) was baked rather than deep-fried, rendering it lighter than usual -- practically diet food. But for more rigorous dieters, or anyone who wants something crunchier than a French fry with their meal, three traditional German marinated-vegetable salads were terrific: thinly sliced gurken (cucumber), shredded karrotten (carrot), and kraut (white cabbage). Whereas marinades in most German restaurants -- in Germany as well as America -- contain too much sugar or too much vinegar, the Bierhaus's was ideally balanced, allowing the veggies' individual flavors to come through. This made taste-testing via a mixed salatteller fun, though salads are also sold separately.

Try the schnitzel and bratwurst and beer, but be sure 
to leave room for the torte
Jonathan Postal
Try the schnitzel and bratwurst and beer, but be sure to leave room for the torte

For dessert I'd been anticipating the Salzburger nockerl pictured on F&F's Website. Sadly, this signature Salzburg confection, bathtub of baked meringue, wasn't on the menu. But Vienna's famous/infamous Sacher torte was. Some say only the Demel pastry shop in Vienna makes this chocolate-apricot cake correctly. Some say only the Hotel Sacher does. I say that Fritz & Franz did a pretty darn good Hotel Sacher-type torte (meaning the apricot preserves were between the cake's layers; Demel sneaks it up under the chocolate ganache icing). It was properly dense, and only a little too sweet.

Finally don't forget this universal truth: Beer is food. And this is the Gables, not South Beach, where the body police will soon be conducting abs inspections at the causeway. So throw an XXX-large T-shirt over that bustier and drink dinner. The house-draft Warsteiner was actually a bit lightweight; even the dark pilsener had neither enough hops bite nor malt body. But bottled Kostritzer schwarzbier (black beer) had a pronounced flowery bouquet and an elegantly dry, hoppy finish. And Franziskaner weissbier dark was well worth an extra two bucks per bottle. The amber wheat beer had complex, almost winelike acidity; intense fruit; holiday spiciness (with clove aromas predominating); strong hops sharpness; luscious malty sweetness; a dense creamy head; and all-around oomph. No wonder Bavarians annually down roughly 240 liters of beer per person.


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