Mountain Brauhaus Restaurant
Route 299 at 44/55
Lunch & Dinner Wednesday through Sunday
Closed Monday and Tuesday
You will find the Mountain Brauhaus nestled near the base of the Shawangunk ridge, on the road that climbs through a series of switchbacks before reaching Minnewaska. German immigrants settled the area long ago, drawn here for the same reasons as the thousands of climbers and tourists who visit the area each year. The landscape is as close to Bavaria as you will find without getting on a plane to Germany. The region’s most popular restaurant fits right into that setting, serving as a meeting house for area residents and a beacon for the rest of us drawn to the light of the kitchen’s traditional Brauhaus fare. I’ve written about the Mountain Brauhaus before, both in 2010 and in 2013, and those articles cover the storied history of the place, which has been run by the same family for sixty years. We have been dining at the restaurant for half of that span, and it remains not only one of our favorite Wednesday night destinations but one of our “Hudson Valley Top 10 Restaurants”.
The reasons for that status are many, but I’ll start with an easy one – the bar. The restaurant sports one of the prettiest back-bars you will find, a warm, rustic wooden cradle of camaraderie adorned with the requisite German beer related tchotchkes and steins, blended together with area climbing mementos and photos. Add to this setting a first class selection of German beers on tap, along with a collection of friendly locals to help you choose your selection, and you will find it difficult to pull yourself away from your bar stool to go sit in the adjacent dining room for dinner.
But that is the reason we come here, for the food. Dining with a group of friends make navigating this menu easier, as we usually end up sharing, whether you want to or not. Appetizers get passed around, and typically include a plate of pickled herring, or some slices of sülze, a head cheese terrine spritzed with a bracing splash of vinegar.
Some type of charcuterie platter will often appear as a special. Last week’s offering included pickled eggs, landjaeger – a pressed dried sausage, and speck – a traditional German air dried cured ham, similar to prosciutto, but finished in a smoker. Wonderful stuff! Some of Sprout Creek Farm’s Kinkead cheese was also included, along with a gouda-like Beemster.
Someone always orders the sausage platter, which will arrive with a side of German sauerkraut and a German potato salad, which we will frequently switch out for a side of spaetzle, which of course, must be covered with brown gravy. Diners have a choice of bockwurst, bratwurst, or knackwurst, in plates with two or three links, but seriously, who orders two? Traditional fare like this has been a house staple for decades, but the kitchen is becoming more adventurous in recent years, with offerings like last Wednesday’s Alaskan Sockeye salmon special (and kudos to the chef for not serving farm raised salmon).
The kitchen’s seafood choices are guided by the suggestions of Seafood Watch, an advisory service of the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which promotes sustainable fishery practices. I wish that more area restaurants would follow this wonderful example.
Another dinner special that appears often enough to be considered a regular menu item is the traditional Schweinshaxe, a braised-all-afternoon-falling-off-the-bone pork shank, served with mashed potatoes, all covered in a luscious white wine and brown mustard sauce. Color me happy.
The rest of the menu, which you can peruse here, is a wonderful collection of schnitzels and rostbratens, along with my personal favorite, Kassler Rippchen, a traditional cured smoked pork chop. The menu also offers some lighter fare, such as burgers and sandwiches and fish and chips. The same menu is available through lunch and dinner.