East End Eats: A Beer Garden Grows in Montauk

The East Hampton Star
by Laura Donnelly

I have never lived in New York City but I can imagine that one of the coolest things about it is having access to anything you could possibly want. Anything you could possibly want to see, do, hear, and eat. Like suppose you and your hipster friends were sitting around your little apartment in Alphabet City and you all decided you were hungry. Your options are never-ending — Ethiopian, Indian, French, every possible nationality of food is available to you. You can even pop on your porkpie hats and go enjoy an authentic Bavarian beer garden at Zum Schneider, located in the East Village.
   Well, now Zum Schneider has opened an outpost in Montauk at the old Oyster Pond on South Elmwood. Does Montauk need an indoor beer garden?
   Zum Schneider MTK is big. At the entrance is a huge high-ceiling bar with a busty figurehead to greet you. To the left is a continuation of the bar area, picnic tables, benches, wooden chairs, and a foosball game in ase you need to work off that weisswurst and wheat beer. In the back is a larger dining hall, lined with communal tables and more benches. The walls are a dark blue-gray with a few bright blue and white accents to represent the flag of Bavaria.
    Zum Schneider MTK is fairly new and was fairly busy on the night of our visit. Some of the patrons seemed to be flummoxed by the change in decor and cuisine, some seemed to be there specifically for the massive portions of porcine products and hoppy brews. Indeed, we witnessed the table next to us finish everything on their plates, a feat we could not accomplish. No way, no how.
    We were guided on our Bavarian odyssey by the charming and knowledgeable Sebastian, who was, in fact, wearing lederhosen. We received samples of lagers and pilseners and wheat beers, all fresh, delicious, and reasonable. Attention all serious beer lovers: Zum Schneider is the place for you, at least 10 beers on tap, lots of bottled, and even a few tasty nonalcoholic brews.
    We began our meal with obatzda, a cheese spread, some weisswurst, and reiberdatschi, or potato pancakes.
    Obatzda is a traditional cheese spread comprised of brie or camembert mixed with butter, cream cheese, onions, chives, beer, and paprika. This version was mostly brie and blue cheese and colored a brick-orange hue from the paprika. It is served with lots of thinly sliced onions and accompanied by a breadbasket full of good sourdough rolls, excellent rye bread, and soft pretzels. The cheese was a bit overwhelmed by the blue cheese and we think someone in the kitchen was dancing the polka when they garnished the entire plate with gobs of paprika.
    The weisswurst (one of my favorite types of sausage) was very good. Two pale white links were brought to the table floating in their water bath and served with sweet mustard. Sebastian informed us we could remove the skins, although some people don’t mind crunching down on the casings. Weisswurst is a delicate veal sausage flavored with parsley, lemon, cardamom, bacon, and onion — very lean and tasty. The reiberdatschi were delicious, two huge lacy crisp potato pancakes served with applesauce and the house salad. This dish is helpfully marked with an asterisk as a vegetarian option. The house salad was a mixture of romaine and Bibb lettuces, radishes, cabbage, and a few cherry tomatoes. The dressing was forgotten on this salad, which was probably for the best as we couldn’t imagine combining the applesauce with oil and vinegar.
    For entrees we chose the Grosse Wurstplatte, Kasespatzle, and Schweinbraten. The Grosse Wurstplatte is a combination of weiner, weisswurst, smoked beef sausage, bratwurst, and nurnberger with sauerkraut and potato salad. All of the sausages and wieners were tasty . . . but impossible to finish. The potato salad was pretty average. It was similar to deli potato salad but with a bit of mustard for added tang.
    Sauerkraut is sauerkraut. I like it. The kasespatzle is homemade spatzle with cheese, caramelized onions, and bacon. This was also accompanied by the house salad, this time dressed with a nice, lightly sweetened vinaigrette. Spatzle are similar to noodles or dumplings, boiled, then sometimes pan-fried. This dish was delicious, rich, and quite naughty. The schweinbraten was okay. The roast pork shoulder was tender and the gravy flavorful, but the potato dumpling was a bit of a dud, a bit too heavy and gluey. It had a little meaty surprise in the center, rather like a Chinese steamed bun, but I couldn’t identify what it was. The Bavarian salad assortment served with it was good, a few pickled beets, some cucumber salad, and a more traditional vinegary potato salad.
    We had a fun time at Zum Schneider MTK, not so much because of the food, but because of the jolly atmosphere, outstanding beers, and welcoming staff. Besides the ebullient Sebastian, who joined our table at least six times to check on us, talk about his schooling, and try to convince us to come back next Friday for the music, there was our waitress “Yummy Yummy,” from Mongolia, clad in an ensemble somewhere between Lisbeth Salander and a harajuku girl.
    Prices are $7 to $18 for appetizers, $12 to $26 for entrees (except for the Riesen Schlachtplatte which serves six to eight for $115), $6 for sides, and $9 to $11 for desserts.
    For desserts we tried the Bavarian cream and the Kaiserschmarrn, a fluffy, chopped German pancake. The Bavarian cream was very nice, rather like a creme brulée panna cotta. It was garnished with a variety of fresh berries. The Kaiserschmarrn probably could do with a better plate presentation. A pile of chopped-up pancakes is just plain weird. They were tasty, though, and fluffy. The applesauce was garnished with thin slices of red grapes.
    If you like beer and hearty German food served in big portions then you will like Zum Schneider MTK, Montauk’s very own, first of its kind, indoor beer garden.