The Taste: Old Stein Inn’s Mike Selinger Carries on Family Legacy
May 08, 2017 12:08PM
● By Cate Reynolds
Owner Mike Selinger
Old Stein Inn | 1143 Central Avenue, Edgewater | 410-798-6807 | oldstein-inn.com | Open daily, 4 p.m.–closing | Major credit cards accepted | Handicapped accessible
By Mary Lou Baker // Photography by Tony Lewis, Jr.
“You really had me thinking about the last 34 years,” said Mike Selinger, personable owner of the Old Stein Inn in Edgewater, after responding to our questions about the restaurant’s past and present popularity as the only authentic German restaurant in Anne Arundel County. Here’s how our conversation went with Selinger as he mused about the Old Stein Inn past and present. He also provided a fun recipe for the signature Schnitzelwich sandwich. Prost!
Tell us the story of the Old Stein Inn—its history and its evolution from a family-style ethnic eatery to its modernized reputation as a place to eat, sing, and experience the ambience reminiscent of a European bistro.
In 1983, my parents, Karl and Ursula Selinger came here from Neustadt a de Weinstrasse in Germany’s Rhineland Pfalz, and opened the inn to serve the finest German cuisine in a welcoming ‘gemutlichkeit’ atmosphere. My father cooked traditional German specialties and my mother tended to the customers. They passed the torch to me when I graduated from college in 1994. We had an unfortunate setback when a fire destroyed the building in 2010, but reopened eight months later. Rebuilding was a big challenge, and it was the well-wishes from customers that kept us going. Now, seven years later, it is a joy to see those people enjoying dinner and a beer in the new restaurant.
Today, how many Selinger family members are involved in the restaurant?
My parents retired almost 20 years ago. Currently, I am the only Selinger inside the restaurant. My wife Beth, who is a registered nurse, says she has “the real job in the family.” Our three sons Sam (eight years old), Maximilian (nine), and his twin brother Bruno help in our garden, which may be why not all of the strawberries seem to make it into the kitchen. If all three boys want to end up working here that would be fine; if they want to pursue their own careers, that’s fine, too.
Is there anything that may surprise folks who have not visited the inn for a while?
Last year, we covered a portion of the outdoor biergarten with a high roof that really gives it a Munich Octoberfest tent feel and dubbed a portion of the garden as the Bier Bar. Here the focus is on craft beer, craft cocktails, and a small plate seasonal Gastropub menu. The May menu, for instance, will feature locally grown asparagus. Our Bier Bar was voted among the “Best Al Fresco Dining Restaurants in America” in Open Table’s 2016 survey.
What are some of the current food trends that you have observed and incorporated into your menu?
For certain, people’s eating habits have changed. Patrons can come in and have a full meal off our Old Stein menu or eat lighter from our Bier Bar’s small plate menu. One of our bestsellers is the schnitzel sandwich—a way to have a lighter version of this traditional favorite. People always think of us as a beer place (rightfully so), but our bartenders are creating top-notch handcrafted cocktails. Also popular now is our charcuterie—something we have been doing all along but has recently spiked in popularity. The chacuterie meats and our bratwursts come from one of the oldest master German butcher shops in New York City.
I can’t think of any local restaurant with wild game stew, elk meatballs, rabbit ragout, duck hash, and fried quail on the menu. What are your sources and are these specialties popular with the public?
Our winter wild game menu has been so successful that we expanded it to three months this year—December through February. All meats are sourced from approved suppliers specializing in wild game. We have some loyal customers who come back every year just for this seasonal treat.
Can you name some of your regular patrons’ favorite dishes?
Our patrons have Old Stein cravings, for sure. Some folks never deviate from the same dish they have ordered for the past 20-plus years. Standouts would be the Jagerschitzel, Sauerbraten, and our Munster Cheese and Crab Soup—that was the People’s Choice at last year’s Maryland Seafood Festival.
How many kinds of beer are available at your restaurant?
Our Old Stein German menu remains constant with nine drafts plus and an ever changing seasonal which we call ‘The Tenth Tap,’ and 30 to 40 rotating German bottle beers. Our Bier Bar has 30 to 49 local and international beers —one of them a sparkling fruity brew that we serve in a flute. It’s a favorite with the women. We’re always on the lookout for the “cult crafts” as well as the lesser known up-and-coming brewers.
People come from all over Maryland and beyond to visit the Old Stein Inn. Is this mainly during Octoberfest or year-round?
As always, everyone becomes German during Oktoberfest and we are super busy that month. But we have always been a year-round destination. One of our newest attractions is a traditional Spanferkel, a pig roast that we have on the first Sunday of each month April through October. Depending on the size of the hog we get from an Eastern Shore farmer, it may take 15-plus hours to roast over the open fire—the reward being smoky, moist, and succulent meat. This ritual is celebrated with live German entertainment and is a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon.
Does your menu change with the seasons?
Our monthly-changing Bier Bar menu draws year-round attention. December through February features wild game; March through May features local greens, and white asparagus in May. June through August, we do a lighter summer menu, with seafood, sliders, and salads. Our core Old Stein menu has had very few changes. If it’s not broke, why fix it?
Who plans the Bier Bar menus?
My chef Katroina Hahn, who has been with us for about a year, my managers, and I all work together on the menu. Since recently adding our Fridays at Bier Bar local acoustic music series [8 to11 p.m.] we have seen customers coming in later and staying later. We’ve also added a vintage style shuffle board table for diversion.
Tell us about the entertainment at the Old Stein Inn.
Our best-known musician is a wonderful lady named Sylvia Eberly, a popular fixture at the inn for nearly 30 years. Sylvia has serenaded multiple generations on their birthdays and plays her accordion while circulating among the tables outside. We also have our German Saturdays, when music is provded by a single accordion player or a four-piece ‘Oompah Band.’ German music is a big part of our first Sunday of the month’s Spanferkel pig roast. We have brought some really good musicians to the Bier Garten and the Bier Bar. We are able to keep our local patrons from having to travel to Annapolis, Baltimore, or Washington to find good music.
What do you like most about your job?
My job is most fulfilling when I see a table with grandparents, their children, and their grandchildren sitting together having a relaxed meal while enjoying each other’s company. We don’t rely on blaring TVs, but on conversation, music, and good food and drinks. We want to deliver a real experience that can’t be found in this mundane chain-restaurant world.
Recipe: SchnitzelwichMakes 1 sandwich
- 1 6–7oz chicken breast
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1 1/2 cups bread crumbs
- Sliced Muenster cheese
- Thick-sliced Black Forest ham
- 1 pretzel roll
- Salt and pepper
Pound chicken breast thinly and evenly, salt and pepper to taste. Dredge in flour, shake off excess, then coat in egg, then breadcrumbs. Pan-fry in clarified butter or vegetable oil. Top with sliced ham and cheese, melt in oven, place on toasted pretzel bun.
Apple SlawMakes 4–6 servings
- 1 apple, cored and julienned
- 1/2 cucumber, seeded and sliced
- 1/2 carrot, peeled and shredded
- 3 cups green cabbage, shredded
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1/4 cups cider vinegar
- 1 tbsp. white vinegar
- 2 tsp. black pepper
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. celery seed
- 1 tbsp. sugar
Combine all ingredients, allow to sit for 1 hour before serving.