Schmidt's Restaurant Review - Good "German" Food
I'll start off by saying I'm no expert on German food, and Schmidt's is almost too light or carefully prepared for me to think it's entirely authentic, but I have really enjoyed both my recent meals there.
Instead of the heavily dressed grated carrot salad that is a German staple, at Schmidt's they use a mix of different color carrots, of a much higher (less starchy and old) quality than the norm, shaved thinly, and then dressed lightly. The dressing has the same range of traditional flavors as the typical German incarnation of this salad, but the overall effect is so much lighter, and to me, more appealing. I've been thinking of it as Cal-German fusion, with my tongue firmly in cheek.
I haven't made much progress on the sausage selection, but the fresh duck and marzenwurst were both completely delicious. The potato salad and sauerkraut that come with the $11 sausages are each house-made and on point. The potato salad pretty much achieves an ideal balance between tart mustard/vinegar components, fresh herbs, potatoes, and the rich binding.
This last time, we tried the fried pork/veal terrina and the smoked pork chops from the entree selection. The terrina was very fine-textured, delicious, and was more pan-seared rather than deep fried. The smoked pork chop was tender, moist, gently smokey, and came together well with the sweet sauteed onions and other bits on the plate. This was my first smoked pork chop, but a friend who loves them said this was a particularly good one.
The beer list is pretty good, with 8-10 German beers on tap and 2-3 times that many in bottles. Entree prices are in the mid teens, though a sausage and a side would make a fully satisfying meal for about $15 before beer/tax/tip.
The only miss last time was the side of spaetzle, which seemed well-prepared but was just dumped on a cold plate. It was tasty with a shake of salt, but doesn't work very well as a side. The version with cheese might have come out hotter, with more flavor to make it interesting, but the plain spaetzle didn't hold up to the rest of the food on our table.
The most surprising aspect of this restaurant is how modern the tables and food feel, in comparison to my memories of Walzwerk. If this is indeed connected to Walzwerk, I guess I owe Walzwerk another try after 6+ years away.
I did recognize a German guy who I went to college with, and he seemed to be enjoying his meal, so consider that a small German stamp of approval.
2400 Folsom St, San Francisco, CA 94110
I had the Pork Chop @ Schmidt's and my wife had the Wiener schnitzel, which is topped with an egg. Both were excellent and we had a pleasent meal sitting at the bar. We had a special "organic" pilsner beer of some sort which was very refreshing.
On the basis of that experience we decided to go to Walzwerk, which we had not been to in years. I had a lamb special, and wife had, yes, Wiener schnitzel. Food was fine, but on the whole I enjoyed Schmidt's more. Nicer room, smaller simpler menu, and all in all just more enjoyable. And we tasted a couple of wines at each, and I likes the ones at Schmidt's more. They might even have the same list, and we just pick better that night!
Nothing "wrong" with Walzwerk, but it feels like they've been around for a while without bringing anything new to the mix. If someone invited my I be happy to go back, but wouldn't go out of my way. But I would go back to Schmidt's without prompting.
381 S Van Ness Ave, San Francisco, CA 94103
kostritzer dark lager goes by the name, schwarzbier, and it's excellent! all the dunkel beers are german dark beers. seems there's an excellent selection here. dunkel beers are a separate kind of bier different and lighter than schwarzbier.
look forward to trying out schmidt sometime!