Friday’s opening day for Funkenhausen, a German-style beer hall with food from an acclaimed chef. Chicagoans know Mark Steuer from his work in Wicker Park at Carriage House/Bedford and Mindy’s Hot Chocolate. He’s released the menu from his upcoming West Town restaurant with some unique German dishes that the city’s never seen.
Steuer’s divided the menu into three parts: “Smaller Plates,” “Little Bigger,” and “Big as Funk.” This is all centered by two dishes that defy labels: garlicky pretzel knots and the “Piggy Plate.” Those two dishes seem to be designed to go with any of the nine draft beers and 11 bottles/cans available. There’s plenty of German-style bocks and kolsches to drink, both imported and domestic. For those not into beer, GM Joseph Carnahan has assembled a lineup of crisp German wines.
Funkenhausen previewed its menu back in November and its clear that Steur and his culinary team have made several tweaks over the last nine months. The restaurant will feature a seasonal spaetzel: during the winter preview it was served with gruyere, but the summer version has egg noodles, summer vegetables, and a red-wine vinaigrette. The cabbage roll from that preview, stuffed with beef tartare, gouda, pickled mustard, and truffle) also made the cut.
But spaetzel is something Chicagoans expect from its German restaurants, anywhere from shuttered icons like Golden Ox in Lincoln Park to Chicago Brauhaus in Lincoln Square. Keeping with that tradition, there’s a “Big-ass” schnitzel. Unusual dishes include a “Sürfentürfen” (scallop, pork belly, kraut puree, plums) and the prime rib “sauerbraten” (with whipped potatoes, horsey sauce). There are also two types of dumplings.
Steuer turned Carriage House into a hub for southern hospitality in the Midwest and Esquire named the Wicker Park spot as one of its Best New Restaurants in America in 2013. Steur’s mixing those southern techniques with his German roots. Reservations are live via Reserve. Come back Friday for a look through the restaurant at 1709 W. Chicago Avenue.