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Schumann's Jager Haus

Schumann schnitzel

German restaurants, it would seem, are becoming a rarity, not just in the U.S. but also in Germany.

Whenever I visit Germany, as I did in May, I always ask any German natives I know for restaurant recommendations in the cities I plan to visit. Invariably the suggestions are for favorite Italian, Greek or Mediterranean restaurants, or maybe the best place to get a currywurst, which is basically a wiener sprinkled with curry spices and served with ketchup.

But restaurants that serves what we consider to be the typical German foods -- schnitzels, sauerbraten and such -- are surprisingly hard to find. They’re there, but not prominent. And sometimes, as with the Hofbrau Munchen Berlin, they seem to exist mainly for the tourists. (A Bavarian “beer hall” restaurant in Berlin is sort of like a Cajun Mardi Gras themed restaurant in Orlando.)

Schumann’s Jager Haus, a German restaurant on Church Street in downtown Orlando, has more in common with that Berlin restaurant. It is heavy on the atmosphere -- indeed the atmosphere is one of its best selling points -- but the food is a bit far from the fatherland. 

And in the case of the Wiener schnitzel, it was downright disappointing. Available with a pounded pork or chicken cutlet (but not veal), the schnitzel -- I ordered pork -- was hard, dry and crusty. Just the sort of thing that would send Germans running to the nearest Turkish restaurant. The schnitzel came with rubbery green beans and mashed potatoes that made me think of rye bread. It turns out the potatoes had been soaked in caraway.

Schumann goulash

The “traditional” goulash had a dominant vinegar flavor that overwhelmed the ample amount of stewed beef, which was served over nicely made spatzle dumplings.

Schumann spatzle

The spaztle was at the heart of one of the appetizers my guest and I had ordered. Kase spatzle was a gloppy delight of noodles with melted cheese and chunks of ham. Think of it as cheese fries with a Teutonic twist. Arguably the least authentic thing on the menu, but it was enjoyable in a guilty-pleasure sort of way. 

(It could be, too, that we were just happy to finally have some food in front of us following a long wait after ordering. I had requested some bread to tide us over, but what the waiter brought us was horribly dry and largely inedible.)

Schumann potato

The kartoffelpuffer (you can call it a potato pancake, if you prefer), was thick with shredded potatoes and onions, a nice crisply fried version of the traditional appetizer, served with both sour cream and applesauce, so we didn’t have to choose. (Nice touch.)

Schumann’s, which is owned by the Mulvaney family, known more for its Irish pubs around town, has a decor that immediately identifies it, in a stereotypically kind of way, as a German restaurant, with the steins, beer barrels and banners that you’d find in, well, that Hobrau Munchen restaurant in Berlin. 

But I don’t mind that. I thought the atmosphere was the best part of the experience at Schumann’s, and it could have gone further with some oom-pah-pah music that was somehow absent (the young clientele likely prefers more contemporary tunes). But I’d like to see it spend a bit more time curating the traditional German restaurant. Otherwise, it might as well serve Italian.

Schumann’s Jager Haus is at 25 W. Church Street, Orlando. It is open for lunch Monday through Friday and dinner daily, including late night hours (though that information is mysteriously missing from the restaurant’s website). The phone number is 407-985-1950.

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Comments   

+1 #4 Kb 2013-11-19 10:55
Will definitely try to get to this place to give it a try. Have been to Willow Tree (great!) and Bauern Stube (never again--canned mushrooms?? GROSS!) Glad to see the choices are branching out around town!
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-1 #3 thom desoto 2013-11-14 14:55
Went a couple weeks after it opened. Weird getting served German beer from a bartender with an Irish accent. Beer selection was ok--better at Willow Tree & Bauern Stube. Later, a different bartender couldn't by sight tell the difference between a marzen and a helles. Oh well.

Food was ok. Got the sausage platter and sampled three of them. They weren't bad. Again--better at Willow Tree and Bauern Stube. Spaetzle was made fresh, which is more than I can say for Willow Tree (any time I've had it there, it's cooked it advance and reheated--so, the spaetzle becomes dry and rubbery). The red cabbage was good, but way too sweet. As it happened, I was sitting next to the manager and asked how it was. I noted this sweetness, and he admitted that they were deliberately dialing back the authenticity knowing the expected Church Street clientele.

tl;dr: Don't go expecting authentic German food, which, according to the restaurant itself, is a feature not a bug.
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+1 #2 Mike Cherry 2013-11-14 12:56
Scott, I had the schnitzel too and it was better than what yours sounded like but it also came with a mushroom gravy which helped. I'll probably get some kind of 'wurst next time though.
Re: sides, I, like NB, had the spaetzle and cabbage as sides and they were good. However, the default sides on the menu for the schnitzel are green beans and mashed potatoes--I didn't think to swap out until the server asked me if I wanted the standard sides (beans/potatoes ) or something else.
I sat at the bar and my service was good.
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+1 #1 NB 2013-11-14 10:53
I've been twice and had a much better experience than what you describe. I’m thinking they must have had a bad night when you went. The schnitzel I had was hot, fresh, and tender. I had it with the traditional spatzle and sweet cabbage which were both excellent. While on that topic, who would pick mashed potatoes and green beans instead of the German classics as their sides? The second time I had the sausage plate with spatlze and traditional sauerkraut, which was very good with the caraway seeds. My service was also very fast both times. I do agree that they need to do a better job with the music; Billy Joel and other contemporary stuff just doesn’t cut it for a German restaurant.
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Saturday, 22nd November 2014

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