Schatzi’s Pub & Bier Garden
202 Main Street
Poughkeepsie, NY 2601
In days of yore, Hudson Valley diners had many choices for good German fare. Just in the city of Poughkeepsie we had the Brauhaus in Arlington (now the Dubliner) and further down Main Street was the Auffarth family’s Congress Tavern (in the late 70’s) , both of which served up Karl Ehmer’s wieners and wursts with platters of spaetzle and kraut. Those were the days. It was just such a longing for my traditional family fare that caused my heart to skip a beat when the news came of a new German restaurant on Main Street Poughkeepsie, in the site that formerly housed Karma Lounge.
This particular space has caused problems for previous occupants. The bar seems much larger than the dining area. The small open kitchen behind the bar places limits on the types of dishes you can offer on the menu. A very large courtyard out back offered seasonal al fresco dining, but there seemed to never be enough of that business to make the space work. Enter new owner Jeremy Phillips, who saw the space as suitable for a classic German Biergarten with a simple Brauhaus menu. After seeing the results of his efforts, I totally agree. It’s perfect, and so is the name – Schatzi’s, the German term of endearment meaning “darling”.
It took little persuasion to gather my crew for dinner last Wednesday. Seven of us met at the bar and sampled many, if not most, of the items of the menu. We were greeted at the bar by an old friend who used to take care of us at Brasserie 292. Renee pointed out the list of beers on the blackboard, including a number of local craft offerings. I was unaware that we had a producing nano-brewery in Poughkeepsie on Hooker Avenue. Sloop Brewing had a keg of their Sauer Peach on tap. This brew is true to its name.
The menu offerings include many brauhaus classics, and also updated versions of familiar favorites. Highland wurstmacher, Mark Elia, is responsible for the sausages on the menu. These offerings included a classic German style bratwurst with onions, or franks and sauerkraut, with house made ale mustard on a soft pretzel bun. Those Bavarian style pretzels are also available as a starter with a dipping fondue of beer infused melted cheddar. Do not miss this dish. A very un-German classic was the plate of wings ($8), which were also fantastic. They were served “nekkid” – not tossed in BBQ sauce – just dry rubbed with an assertive blend of dried chili peppers and paprika, first oven roasted, then finished in the fryer. It is a killer dish.
My favorite dish was one that I had actually ordered because I just had to see it for myself – I thought there was no way that the combination was going to work. A “duck confit grilled cheese” ($12) sounded much too rich. The sandwich is a blend of melted brie, a very nicely done house made confit of duck, some duck cracklings, caramelized onions and grilled asparagus, all on two extra thick slices of grilled brioche. Sounds too rich, no? It was fantastic. I’m sure it should come with a side of Lipitor, but it’s a great dish.
Another dish that I ordered with some suspicion was the fried pickles. Yes pickles. Fried. Dill pickles, made in house, cross cut in bite sized slices, then battered and fried, served with a horseradish – spiked dipping sauce for $7. I washed them down with a pint of Ithaca Caskzilla. What’s better than that?
I’ll tell you what’s better – Reuben sliders ($8). Braised corned beef, sauerkraut, and Gruyere cheese on a very nice pumpernickel. Chef Tim Farley does a nice job with the limited space, producing well prepared classics and twists on classics and some twists on twists – like the confit / grilled cheese.
We came away most impressed with the place. The bar room is very comfortable, but I’m sure space will be at a premium as word gets around. Word will get around, because the food is top notch, most reasonably priced, and complemented with a first rate selection of craft beers.
If you do stop in please let our other readers know about your visit in the comments section.