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Bierstube Tsingtau

By Phyllis Stein-Novack
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 12 | Posted Sep. 12, 2012

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Bierstube, meaning "a room or other place used primarily for the serving of beer" in German, offers its native fare and a selection of European craft brews.

Photo by Greg Bezanis

The MenuPages website is a fine way to discover new restaurants. Many places cannot afford to hire a public relations firm or take out advertisements in newspapers, magazines and on the Web.

Glancing over the site a few weeks ago, I discovered Bierstube Tsingtau, a German restaurant in Old City. There are only a handful of German restaurants in Philadelphia.

My grandparents came from Austria, so I grew up on potato pancakes, schnitzel, pierogies, all sorts of veal dishes and of course, my grandmother’s famous apple strudel.

Sunday, after the Eagles beat Cleveland by one point (a win is still a win), I asked Sandy if she was in the mood for potato pancakes. After she replied with a resounding “yes,” we hopped on the bus and headed over to Bierstube.

It is a bare-bones place with tables covered in blue and white oilcloth, a long bar and a friendly staff. German fare is rustic, stick-to-your ribs where potatoes, cabbage and sausages are king. It is homestyle cooking and can be well prepared. Each dish we sampled received a positive nod from us.

Smoked paprika pierogies ($6.99) featured four pillows of light, homemade dough filled with perfectly seasoned, smooth potatoes nestled on a paprika sauce. They were uncommonly good and the sauce was so unusual, I asked our server how the chef prepared it. Paprika is the spice of choice in Hungarian food and it had the right touch here. The sauce was made with a mix of sweet and hot paprika, crème fraîche and tomatoes. I vowed to make this sauce at home.

The potato pancakes ($5.99) also received a good mark. Three latkes were fashioned from finely-grated potatoes, nice and creamy inside, served with herbed sour cream and finely grated Granny Smith apples.

“I want more of both of them,” Sandy said. “I could build dinner around latkes and pierogies.”

For purposes of review, we had to sample several other dishes. Sandy chose weiner wurzig ($7.98) while I wanted to see if Bierstube’s chicken schnitzel ($17.99) was as fine as the ones I have eaten in other German restaurants.

A jumbo, and I mean jumbo, all-beef, fat sausage arrived in a toasted long roll. The balance of flavors and spices was spot on. Sandy and I prefer a slight garlic flavor, but all too often it is over powering. The sausage was topped with a blanket of caramelized onions and arrived with a mound of piping hot, thick cut french fries.

Schnitzel is the German version of the French paillard. A large boneless chicken breast is pounded thin, coated in panko breadcrumbs and fried to a deep golden brown. I cut into it, tasted it and found it absolutely free of grease. The chicken was not a bit overdone and I easily polished it off. I thought the use of panko breadcrumbs was an inspired choice. My dinner came with sweet and sour sautéed red cabbage and spaetzle, which melted in my mouth. The tiny bits of egg noodles are boiled and served with or without gravy. My schnitzel was topped with a homemade chicken gravy, which I dipped the little noodles in and enjoyed it. A side of house-made sauerkraut with bacon ($2.99) was a little too sour for my taste.

Unfortunately for us, Bierstube did not have the apple strudel that was listed on the menu. Our server advised it would return to the bill of fare by the time you read this review.

The beer list is longer than the menu. I think it is the largest list of any restaurant in the city. Although German beer is king here, there are brews from around the world. My allergies were kicking in during the evening we dined and I immediately knew a small glass of beer would make me sleepy. I urge you to select a beer if you dine at Bierstube. The knowledgeable staff will help you navigate the menu.

Two tips of the toque to Bierstube Tsingtau.

Bierstube Tsingtau

206 Market St.
215-922-2958
mybierstube.com

Contact the South Philly Review at editor@southphillyreview.com.

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COMMENTS

Comments 1 - 12 of 12
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1. Phil said... on Sep 13, 2012 at 01:33PM

“About this toque business. The online review doesn't say how many total toques there are, so the new reader doesn't get it. Maybe the last paragraph could read "Two out of three tips of the toque to...". And if it is two out of three, then why? The only negative I saw was sauerkraut that was too sour. LOL. That was worth a whole toque penalty? Or is "barebones" also a negative?”

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2. Anonymous said... on Sep 13, 2012 at 02:08PM

“I look forward every week to the restaurant review. I am so often disappointed when the restaurant is not in South Philly. I understand that restaurants all over the city need to be reviewed, everyone likes to go out of their neighborhood. I think that restaurants outside of South Philly should be the once in a while reviews, while reviews of South Philly restaurants should be the norm. We are after all reading the SOUTH PHILLY review.”

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3. Maverick said... on Sep 13, 2012 at 02:28PM

“Anonymous#2, look at the review. She easily "hopped on the bus" from her Center City digs to visit this place. It's either that or wait for Edward to stagger home from the bar and pay for a taxi to South Philly with his dollar poker winnings.”

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4. Angie - Anonymous #2 said... on Sep 13, 2012 at 02:47PM

“Thanks Maverick. I did see that, but it still just seems wrong. There are SOOOOO many new restaurants opening in South Philly now that this is where the reviews should be coming from. If unable to get to these restaurants, perhaps it is time for a newer, younger, fresher perspective!”

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5. Edward said... on Sep 13, 2012 at 03:04PM

“I'll pit the Sapphire Bombay martini at the Happy Rooster on 16th against anything south of South. (hic) No, wait, is it Bombay Sapphire?”

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6. Phyllis Stein-Novack said... on Sep 13, 2012 at 03:44PM

“Dear Readers:

I keep a watchful eye for new South Philly restaurants. I've reviewwed Rex 1516 and Cambridge. Will, next door to Tre Scalinil and The Mildred, where James was on South 8th Street, just opened and I have them on the list.”

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7. Anonymous said... on Sep 13, 2012 at 04:44PM

“The burgers are brought in, pirogies brought in, and schnitzels are deep fried. Bleh”

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8. Angie said... on Sep 14, 2012 at 10:08AM

“Rex1516 is JUST barely in South Philly. The Cambridge is again JUST barely in South Philly. It would also be nice to see some reviews from restaurants in South Philly that have been open for many years perhaps for a re-review or for folks who have not lived in South Philly all of their lives. I still say that the majority of the reviews for the SOUTH PHILLY Review should be in South Philly, with the other reviews for outside of South Philly should be here and there. It is the other way around.

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9. Maverick said... on Sep 14, 2012 at 11:17AM

“Angie, we may have a cultural issue here. Traditionally people who lived in South Philly were superb in working with their hands and communicating very well orally. Mediocre living quarters and lack of a varied cultural, employment, and restaurant scene caused the more ambitious residents (and talented writers) to move "up" to Center City and New Jersey. We see several contributing writers to this Paper who live in and write about "uptown" topics. All this is slowly changing, but finding a talented food expert/writer who lives and dines frequently below South Street is not easy. Kudos to you for pressing Phyllis on her restaurant selection. She should hop on the southbound C bus more often or perhaps apply for a position at the Philadelphia Weekly.”

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10. Anonymous said... on Sep 15, 2012 at 01:27AM

“You South Philly Hillbillies are a riot. "Oh, I can't go two miles away from my house! What will the neighbors think if I'm not outside smoking cigarettes and gossiping for an hour?"”

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11. Anonymous said... on Sep 15, 2012 at 02:43PM

“And which prep school did your rich parents send you off to, Anonymous#10?”

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12. Bruno said... on Sep 16, 2012 at 09:03PM

“Edward, I'll put my Gray Goose (no, wait, is it Grey Goose?) martini at New Wave Cafe up against your Bombay sissy drink anytime. Let me know when you're ready to throw a couple of shots back. Or what do you call it uptown...a "tasting"? Har har.”

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