I had been dying to try Portland’s new German stronghold, Schulte and Herr, since it opened a few months ago. Coming from a proud German heritage Mark was even more excited than I to give this place a go. When we moved to Portland I remember having a rather forlorn conversation about the lack of German restaurants nearby and we chalked it up to a potential deficiency of German ancestry in this part of the country. This was something we weren’t accustomed to since we both grew up in areas with a really strong German influence. It’s something that we both hold dear to our hearts, and has long been a sense of comfort in the food world for us.
It was a beautiful sunny Saturday when we headed to Cumberland Avenue to check it out. We arrived around 11:45 a.m. so breakfast was over and lunch had been in swing for about 15 minutes. We were both ready for some lunch fare, so it didn’t bother us that we had skipped over brunch.
The menu was small, but adequate. I am a firm believer in restaurants doing just a few menu items, and doing them really well. I hoped that this would be the case for Schulte and Herr. We ordered the potato pancakes as an appetizer with sour cream and applesauce on the side. They also have a version with house-cured lox, which was very tempting to me, but Mark is a traditionalist and he really wanted to try them “the German way.” He grew up on his grandmother’s potato pancakes so I knew he would be a very tough critic.
When they came out they were fried to a beautiful golden hue. The outside had a great crunch and the inside just melted in your mouth. I love mine with sour cream, but tried a bit of the applesauce. Both ways were amazing. The applesauce added a touch of sweet to the fried saltiness of the cakes. The house also offers every table house made rye bread with a cream cheese spread. It was quite delicious as well.
After whetting our appetites with the potato pancakes we both ordered some hearty lunch fare. Mark decided to try the Beer Braised Beef Sandwich and I opted for the Goulash, a stew made with slow roasted beef.
Mark raved about his beef sandwich and after being afforded just one small taste I realized why. It was absolutely the best roast beef I have ever put in my mouth. The bun was spread with beautiful brown whole grain mustard and served with a side of horseradish. The mixture of the mustard and horseradish was incredible. It was a splendid choice on his part and I was slightly jealous of how amazing it was.
My goulash was fantastic as well, but also fairly predictable as I have had it many times. The beef was very tender and flavorful with wonderful hints of paprika, for which the dish is known. I appreciated that there wasn’t much salt on either one of our lunches. It allowed one to taste the actual flavors instead of just salty preservatives. The goulash was served with fried sour dough bread on the side, just like they do in Deutschland, and I loved that very much, as it is a really authentic touch. I also had a side of the roasted golden and red beets. Those beets were nothing short of fantastic. They tasted very fresh and had nice flecks of fresh ground black pepper and chives on top. I adored them.
We had a lengthy discussion with our waitress (before being tempted to try some homemade dessert). I asked when they might be opening for dinner and she informed us that they were working on getting a liquor license before opening in the evenings. She also told us that they get all their sausages from the Sausage Kitchen in Lisbon Falls and the sauerkraut comes from Morse’s in North Waldoboro, but they “doctor it up” a bit in-house before serving. I asked if they might be including Weisswurst (white veal sausage) on the menu soon, and she said it has been a topic for discussion, and that they might try is as a special first to see how it is received. Anyone who is really familiar with German Food knows that Weisswurst is a staple in Southern German food. Bavarians are quite fond of this sausage and it’s hard to go anywhere in Munich without seeing it on the plates of many patrons in traditional German restaurants.
Even after all that eating, we decided we still had room for just a bit more. For dessert we shared the special for the day—Molasses Cake.
It was quite delicious, reminiscent of a delicate gingerbread. Very light with hints of cinnamon and clove. It was the perfect end to a great lunchtime meal.
All in all, this is a superb addition to the Portland food scene. I am happy to FINALLY have a German restaurant to patronize. The two cooks in the kitchen are both from Germany, and I overheard our gracious waitress say she used to be a German teacher before leaving her job to pursue this endeavor. I can’t wait to go back and try more German delectables and have some more great conversations with the staff because we most certainly will be back, sooner rather than later.