Growing up, it took me several years to realize that ham was a Christmas tradition for most of my friends’ families. While their tables were piled high with sides like mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberries and broccoli casserole, my family’s table was a spread of sausage, sauerkraut, potato salad, sausage, noodles, bean salads and even more sausage. Yep, we’re German.
Argue as you may, but I will stand by the following statement: Boston doesn’t have good German food.
Imagine my delight then, upon seeing the menu at Somerville’s newest restaurant, Bronwyn. Opening Wednesday evening in Union Square, Bronwyn is the brainchild of T.W. Food’s Tim and Bronwyn Wiechmann, and, more importantly, serves up what looks like an amazing array of German and Central European food.
If you’re not privy to the nuances of that type of cuisine, you probably thought, “Cool, bratwurst and beer,” yawned and are already clicking over to the next tab. Stop right there, and pay attention. I’d like to walk you through the menu at Bronwyn, tackling some of the … well, stranger sounding items. (German is most certainly not the most attractive language to the ear.) But trust me, one bite of these dishes, and you’ll be a believer in German cuisine faster than you can say wiener schnitzel.
Schmaltz — Chicken and pork fat, served similar to a butter that you spread on bread. It’s often used to make matzo balls, so you’ve likely eaten it before without realizing it.
Kartoffelkäse — Literally translated, this dish means “potato cheese” in English, but traditionally, you won’t find any cheese in the dish. It’s like a chip dip, only thicker, similar to the composition of cream cheese. Kartoffelkäse is great for spreading on hearty hunks of bread.
Knödel — Think dumplings. The Knödel on Bronwyn’s menu are made with bread instead of potatoes and pumped up with bacon. If they’re anything like the Knödel I’ve had, THEY ARE SO GOOD. A must-order.
Spätzle — These egg noodles are served in little nuggets, and Germans eat them by the ton — about 40,000 tons each year, actually. They’re somewhat chewy, and often served with melted cheese and meaty sauces. The Bronwyn version comes with onions and asparagus as well.
GurkenSalat — The worst named food in the world, right? Well, luckily this side is a deliciously refreshing combo of sliced cucumbers, dill and vinegar. Some versions are made with sour cream or yogurt as well. A perfect summer salad, if you will.
Jagerschnitzel — To make schnitzel (and yes, I’ve made it many times), you take a thin tender meat, flatten it by pounding it, coat it with bread crumbs and fry it up. If you like fried chicken, you’re doing yourself a disservice by not eating schnitzel. Jagerschnitzel is served with a mushroom sauce, similar to chicken marsala.
Hungry yet? Bronwyn opens tonight at 255 Washington St. in Union Square, and takes reservations by phone.