Finally, Somewhere to Wear Lederhosen

The New York Times – Long Island Dining | Montauk
By Joanne Starkey

A Review of Zum Schneider, in Montauk

A GERMAN restaurant is not the most likely newcomer to the East End: dumplings and sauerbraten do not seem to go with beaches and bikini-clad bodies. But Montauk, that bastion of fishermen and families, is not the Hamptons, and Zum Schneider Montauk, which opened in May 2012, fits right in.

This is not one of the trendy recent arrivals that has Montauk residents worrying about the gentrification of their laid-back hamlet. Zum Schneider, a branch of the restaurant that opened in 2000 in the East Village of Manhattan, is a barnlike place with timbered ceilings, evoking a Bavarian beer hall. A U-shaped bar takes center stage in a separate room featuring a foosball table, brick floors and extra dining tables.

The two-tiered dining room is hung with flags of various nations as well as the blue-and-white Bavarian flag. There’s a small stage at one end, where the house oompah band performed at the opening. (It may return later in the summer.) Most seating is at long tables with backless benches; a few tables have slatted wood chairs with backs. Both benches and chairs were extremely uncomfortable.

The restaurant is owned by Sylvester Schneider; its name means “at Schneider’s,” or just plain “Schneider’s.” He is the president of the restaurant’s soccer team, which began in 2003, and is the frontman for the oompah band, Mösl Franzi and the JaJaJas. On the nights of our visits to Zum Schneider, we spotted Mr. Schneider, who has had a house in Montauk for eight years, in lederhosen, greeting diners, clearing tables and doing whatever else needed doing.

Even as we groused about the uncomfortable seating, we had to admit that the food was very good. The chef is Goesta Krings, who previously cooked at the city location.

There are few appetizers on the menu. What looks like a roster of openers is mainly a list of beer snacks like platters of cheeses and cold cuts. The list does, however, contain the soup of the day, which was wonderful both times we tried it: a pale green cream of spinach and later an equally creamy mushroom.

One night we received excellent sourdough bread with the soup; another time we didn’t. This lapse was indicative of the erratic service. Servers were friendly, but sometimes diners had to ask for things like salt or silverware.

Another treat listed with the bar snacks is the potato pancakes: three thin, crisp beauties served with applesauce and the house salad. They would make a perfect entree for vegetarians. As for the salad, which contained greens, sliced radishes and halved cherry tomatoes, I loved its fresh-tasting vinaigrette (with just a touch of sweetness) and the crisp mix of ingredients, but the greens were gritty on both visits.

Entrees worth ordering include the fork-tender sauerbraten, served with serviettenknödel, crisp slices of a large Bavarian bread dumpling; a pork ragout with tender spaetzle, a special; local tilefish poached in white wine and served with grilled zucchini and slices of roasted red potatoes; a sausage platter of three types of wurst with sauerkraut and potato salad; and roasted pork shoulder in a dark beer gravy with a big potato dumpling and an assortment of Bavarian salads (pickled beets, cucumber slices in yogurt, cabbage salad and potato salad).

We also enjoyed the Käsespätzle, house-made spaetzle with melted cheese, caramelized onions and bits of bacon, which shared the plate with the (gritty) house salad. It can be ordered without bacon for a vegetarian option.

Besides ice cream and sorbet, there are two desserts: a fluffy German pancake cut into pieces, sprinkled with powdered sugar and served with applesauce; and a luscious, silky Bavarian cream surrounded by mixed berries. Both were sweet finales to an agreeable meal at this fun-loving German spot.

Rating: WORTH IT

THE SPACE Big, airy beer hall. No steps at entrance. Restrooms are up a few steps and are not wheelchair accessible.

THE CROWD Casual, spirited, fun-loving. Lots of groups, including some with children. Servers are personable and obliging if sometimes elusive.

THE BAR Large U-shaped bar. Sixteen wines by the bottle ($30 to $80) and 14 by the glass ($7 to $15). About a dozen German beers on tap are offered in three sizes: small ($4 to $5), regular ($5 to $8) and large ($10 to $16), plus 10 bottled beers ($6 to $8). There are also cocktails made from beer spirits (distilled from beer).

THE BILL Entree platters, $18 to $26; less expensive sandwiches are also available. Only MasterCard and Visa accepted.

WHAT WE LIKED Mushroom soup, creamy spinach soup, potato pancakes, sauerbraten, platter of wursts, roasted pork shoulder, käsespätzle with bacon, tilefish poached in wine, pork ragout with spaetzle, German fluffy pancake, Bavarian cream with berries.

IF YOU GO Open Sunday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Reservations were not being taken at the time of my visits but may be in the future.