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Thursday, June 4, 2009

Hot Meal: Schmidt's Deli

Posted By on Thu, Jun 4, 2009 at 3:43 PM

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There can't be too many German restaurants in San Francisco to suit us -- we're BIG schnitzel fans! -- so learning that Christiana Schmidt and Isabell Mysyk (owners of the gemütlich East German Walzwerk on South Van Ness) were opening a deli on Folsom brought a tear of joy to our eye.

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So did the choice of eight different sausages ($8 each), served with sauerkraut, potato salad, and two kinds of mustard (hot and grainy). Pictured above is the excellent, smoky-yet-mild Thüringer bratwurst. We also tried a delicious dark, coarse, and slightly gamy boar sausage.

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The menu is not just a meatfest. Exciting salads included this one, crunchy and slightly spicy celery leaves and thinly sliced raw asparagus with quail eggs in a light vinaigrette ($4.50; we added sliced poached chicken breast for $2). Another combined mâche and pea tendrils, topped with purple chive blossoms.

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Don't miss the späetzle. It comes as a side, plain ($4), topped with cheese as above ($5), or best of all as a main, combined with bacon, cheese, lettuces, and green peas ($10).

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Another don't-miss dish: a tender veal schnitzel sandwich ($10), served open-face on rye, topped with chive sour cream, onion, and optional fried egg ($2). It was better (lighter, crunchier) than the excellent Wiener schnitzel we tasted in the famed KaDeWe food hall in Berlin earlier this year.

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Until Schmidt's receives a wine and beer license, it's strictly lunch only, Monday through Friday, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. A spicy alternative to a chewy ale or light white wine are Bionade sodas from Germany, created, ironically, to rescue a family brewery from collapse. They come in interesting flavors like lychee, herb, and ginger-orange.

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We rarely use such hyperbole, but this was THE BEST CHOCOLATE PUDDING WE'VE EVER HAD ($4, topped with vanilla sauce), and we''ll cry (no lie) if it's not on the menu next time we visit.

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Schmidt's is minimalist chic, in contrast to the kitschy charm of Walzwerk. Bare floors and unadorned wooden tables catch a bit of warmth from colorful displays of imported German provender, available for sale.

Schmidt's Deli 2400 Folsom (at 20th St.), 410-0202. Cash only.

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Meredith Brody

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