For something different and delicious, go to Zum Schneider. Located in the heart of Montauk, this German restaurant and beer garden is an idyllic piece of Bavarian heaven right by the beach.
The interior is decorated in warm wood tones with lots of German beer paraphernalia adorning the walls—also, a stuffed deer head that lends a certain “Old World” feel to the place, as does “Rosi,” a ship’s figurehead (only in this case she’s clutching a ceiling-supporting column). Rafters are painted the white and blue of the Bavarian flag—much of the food is specific to the Bavarian state in the southeastern part of Germany—as is the back of the elevated stage, where live music happens on the weekends, including performances by the house oom-pah band Moesl Franzi and the JaJaJas.
Almost all of the tables can accommodate at least six people, if not more, which contributes to the welcoming feel of the space. Large, garage-type doors open up to the outside, where there are several picnic tables beneath shaded umbrellas.
If you do choose to sit outside, balance the heat of the summer evening with a cool beer in one of three sizes: small, regular and large. Be warned: the large is very much so. There are 12 brews on draught—all of them German. For $50 you can order a “Sample Kranz” and try 11 of them (7 oz. each). Not a bad deal. The Weihenstephaner Weissbier has floral notes and hints of berries and banana. The Jever Pilsner, a “clear, dry and bitter north German pilsner,” is extremely drinkable, as is the Traunsteiner 1612er Zwickel, which manager Sebastian recommended, saying “It has lots of vitamins.” Vitamins or no, it was delicious! Wine, liquor and soft drinks are also available, but honestly, why would you?
Ease into your meal by beginning with some vorspeisen and schmanferl (appetizers and delicacies). There’s the standard, but ever-excellent, brezn (freshly baked Bavarian soft pretzel), which comes with tangy, spicy mustard. Branch out and order the o’batzda, a traditional Bavarian cheese spread made by mixing beer, blue cheese, brie and butter together. It’s topped with thinly-sliced onions and served with garnishes of radishes and pickles. If you enjoy fondue, you’ll appreciate this dish.
Absolutely get the reiberdatschi: crisp potato pancakes served with a side of applesauce and a small salad of lettuce and tomatoes. Your mother’s latkes? These are better! (Sorry Mom.)
Also try the radi, a thinly sliced white radish (think daikon) accompanied by sliced Swiss cheese and pickles. The radish is cool and crisp and light—a perfect bite for when the temperature rises. And, perhaps this is self-evident to anyone familiar with German food, but whatever beer you order pairs faultlessly with the savory and often slightly-bitter-in-a-good-way dishes.
For mains, do yourself a favor and get the Grosse Wurstplatte: one each of weiner (the best hot dog you’ll ever eat), weisswurst (traditional Bavarian white sausage made with veal), smoked beefwurst and bratwurst (made with pork), and two Nürnberg sausages (specialties of the city of Nuremberg, these small sausages are full of rich, herby, meaty flavor), all served with meltingly good sauerkraut and German potato salad.
Another traditional favorite, the Käsespätzle, can be ordered with or without bacon. It comes with caramelized onions and a house salad. Spätzle are a kind of soft egg noodle common to Germany and central Europe, and for Käsespätzle these noodles are mixed with cheese to create a “German mac ’n’ cheese,” Sebastian says.
In homage to the restaurant’s proximity to the Atlantic, the menu also offers pan-seared local scallops, the catch of the day and beer-battered fish filets with homemade french fries and tartar sauce. But truly, Zum Schneider is a meat-lovers’ paradise. There’s the Schweinbraten (roasted pork shoulder), Sauerbraten (marinated beef), Rinderrückensteak mit Kräutbutter (rumpsteak with herb butter, roasted potatoes and bacon-wrapped green beans) and the Wiener Schnitzel (breaded pork loin). The portions, as you might expect, are hardy—but the staff will obligingly box up any leftovers. “It’s a good midnight snack,” Sebastian says of the Grosse Wurstplatte.
Finally, it’s time for dessert. Have a cup of coffee. Take a breather. Regain your composure after that sumptuous feast you just devoured. But do not miss out on Apfe-radl (battered apple slices tossed in cinnamon with vanilla ice cream) or Heisse Liebe (hot, fresh raspberries over vanilla ice cream). The apples are so tender and buttery and coated in the flavor of brown sugar that they’re basically the fruit equivalent of caramel. It’s like you’re eating deconstructed apple pie. The raspberries for the Heisse Liebe are served in a small pitcher and you can pour as much or as little of the syrup as you like over the scoops of vanilla ice cream.
Finally, if you’re able, slide down off your chair and roll yourself out the door of Zum Schneider’s. Don’t be sad: by the time you leave, you’ll already be eagerly planning your next visit. Yes, it is that good.
Zum Schneider is open seven days a week for dinner, and for brunch and dinner on Saturday and Sunday. 4 South Elmwood Avenue, Montauk. 631-238-5963 zumschneider.com