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What's Up Magazine

Old Stein Inn

Dec 05, 2011 10:59PM ● By Anonymous
The much anticipated re-opening arrived in early September. After eight months of closure due to a fire, the restaurant opened it doors, stronger than ever and without losing any charm.

This landmark was founded in 1983 by Karl and Ursula Selinger, who hailed from Neustadt, Germany. Their goal was to have guests enjoy good German specialties prepared by Karl, while Ursula would serve and tend bar, all in a peaceful and welcoming atmosphere. Their son, Mike, and his wife took over when they retired a dozen years ago. The atmosphere remains welcoming, though I am not sure about “peaceful”—when my friend Bill and I visited, it was a busy and buzzing night. Well, this is good. Because it was a rainy night, the biergarten was unfortunately not operating, keeping everyone inside.

The fire and subsequent closure allowed Old Stein to refresh its look, including installing a 107-year-old bar that originally came from the famous Carmine’s on Broadway in New York. They also took the opportunity to make a couple small changes in the layout that leaves the restaurant more open.

The menu is straight-forward, just the way I like it. German restaurant, German specialties— not too long, easy to make decisions. A draught Lager for Bill and a nice non-alcoholic Bitburger for me, and we were on our way to a fantastic meal.

To begin, we share a Wursts and Cheese platter ($12), along an order of Potato pancakes ($6). The Wursts (German sausages) consisted of an assortment of knockwurst, Bavarian bratwurst, smoked Bauernwurst, and the Weisswurst. They were all authentic; I will vouch for it as I grew up eating them. All nicely grilled, juicy, and served with a little grain mustard sided with few sticks of local cheeses. The potato pancakes were traditional as well, fresh and crisp served with a delicious homemade apple sauce.

A one-year veteran at Old Stein, Chef Jason Howard is at the helm of the kitchen. A German native from Hanau and trained in Frankfurt, Howard is trying something new at the German establishment: “Making the food healthier.” Yes, my reaction was wary of what’s to be expected, but hear me out. What Chef Jason has in mind is not serving Tofu Schnitzels, but instead lightening up what’s already on the menu. He eases up on the use of frying in fats, and perhaps baking a little more, or offering the Schnitzels with different, healthier meats, chicken, veal, or pork. This lets you decide your level of healthy choices. We wanted to see how this worked, so Bill went with the Chicken Jagerschnitzel ($20). The chicken breast was nicely seasoned and perfectly grilled, topped with the traditional Wild Mushroom Sauce (more mushrooms, less sauce) with additional flavors of onions and herbs. This really works! It was simply delicious. A nice serving of homemade Spaetzles and braised red cabbage was a nice complement.

I stuck with the slightly heavier Cordon Bleu ($20), a juicy and lean pork cutlet, stuffed with black forest ham and Muenster cheese, then breaded and cooked to golden brown. It was fantastic. I was able to tell, however, that very little fat was used to cook it. I drizzled a little lemon juice on it and that was it. Also, it was served with the perfect complement of braised cabbage and Spaetzles.

As for desserts, there’s no lightening up there—the scrumptious and flaky Linzer Tort ($6) was simply superb. The crust was perfectly prepared and baked, topped with the right amount of raspberry jam. One of the specialties is the Apple Cheese Tort ($6), and I never miss that one. It is inspiring, it is delicious, it is refreshing, and it is likely one of my top three favorite desserts. The European style of creating the dessert makes the cheese filling fluffy and creamy, and it just melts in your mouth. Add a layer of slivered fresh apples on top when baked and that combination will stay with you for a long time.

The wine list is modest, and I believe perfect for this operation: A good selection of reds and whites that fit the menu and a choice of taste and body for everyone. Of course, the beer, along with the food, is why you must go there—an outstanding selection of draught with 10 of them recognized as the best beers from Munich, Koln, and Bitburg, all served as a half liter serving. Prost!

When to Enjoy
Dinner: 4–10 p.m. Fri. and Sat.; 4–9 p.m. Wed., Thur., and Sun.;
Closed Mon. and Tues.

Happy Hour: 4–6 p.m. Wed. to Fri.

Late-night munchies: 10 p.m.– midnight Fri. and Sat.; bar opened until 2 a.m.

No reservations; suggested to call ahead for a waiting list

Expect to Pay
Appetizers: $4–11
Soup and Salads: $4–14
Schnitzels and Wursts: $16–26
Desserts: $6
Wine: Glass $7–8, Bottle: $18–32
Beer: $4–6.50

"The Apple Cheese Tort is inspiring, delicious, refreshing, and is likely one of my top three favorite desserts.”—Gilles Syglowski