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Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Every Day is Oktoberfest at Gourmet Haus Staudt

Posted By on Wed, Oct 8, 2014 at 2:00 PM

Garlic Bratwursts and Giant Soft Pretzel at Gourmet Haus Staudt in Redwood City. - TREVOR FELCH
  • Trevor Felch
  • Garlic Bratwursts and Giant Soft Pretzel at Gourmet Haus Staudt in Redwood City.

The oompah bands have quieted down since the official Oktoberfest in Munich and its siblings around the Bay Area wrapped up last weekend. But that doesn’t mean this week — or any week for that matter — isn’t a great time to wear your lederhosen and enjoy some sausages with a liter of Ayinger Fest-Märzen.

It doesn’t get much better in terms of fun and the true feel of a country bierstube on the Peninsula than Gourmet Haus Staudt, the venerable beer tavern and cozy, bench-filled outdoor garden with excellent food that makes Redwood City seem lost in the Black Forest. Beer is indeed the focus, think of it as a German pub. Fortunately the traditional German cuisine isn’t greasy pub grub. It’s right on par with what’s being poured on tap, rather than a forgotten supporting cast to absorb each liter. The limited menu changes daily but you’re guaranteed to find the tried and true duo that is well worth making a beeline to Redwood City for: sausages and a soft pretzel.

Probably half the customers order the giant soft pretzel that covers almost half the table. I’d venture to say it’s roughly the size of three regular pretzels. It’s got that perfect pillowy but not doughy texture, coated with a few dashes of salt that keeps diners tearing piece after piece off at a rapid pace. The regular order comes with whole grain mustard with a nice horseradish kick ($8) for dipping, while the version coated in ham and cheese slices could be something served at a Medieval Feast. It’s quite impressive just to look at its sheer size.

Some days you’ll find spicy cheddar bratwursts and others might be an andouille sausage. My recent visit featured plump fresh garlic bratwursts ($12), nicely charred, bursting with juice on the interior once you cut through the taut skin. For those who expect sausages to be like a mundane hot dog where the inner stuffing is the same as the outside, this will be a crash course on textbook sausage-making and cooking. The garlic flavoring was pleasantly noticeable but by no means the pungent level of AT&T Park garlic fries.

The meal’s headliner actually were the sides. Potato salad and sauerkraut are usually afterthoughts, but that’s not remotely the case here. An assortment of vinegars and bacon perk up the potato slices. The robust sauerkraut seems like it’s been stewed for half a day in its bath of bacon, white wine (I seriously felt I could detect a specific Riesling with its slate-mineral notes), onions, and the earthy-sweet profile of juniper berries. It’s homey and fully enjoyable on its own, excellent with some beer or a glass of German apple cider.

The Alsacian flatbread “flammkuchen” is another almost guaranteed menu staple, as are potato pancakes with apple sauce. But as one of the owners told me on the phone, the focus is on the beer with good rotating food cast as the beer's partner; they’re not a “restaurant" despite the worthwhile food and table service (note that dinner stops at 8 p.m. but drinking continues after!). 

Gourmet Haus Staudt has been in the same family for 35 years, transforming from part German deli and part floral shop into the bierstube and garden it is today. The front half now is a shop for Oktoberfest decorations. Now you know where to get that lederhosen for your trip to Munich next September.

Some things at Gourmet Haus Staudt change over time like the fact that California craft beers including Almanac’s Pumpkin Sour are poured, in addition to the enormous list of German selections. Other things don’t change: no wifi, no TV. You have to talk to people face to face. And there’s no denying the centuries old glory of beer, a soft pretzel, and sausages with sauerkraut and potato salad, whether it’s Oktoberfest or you decide today should feel like Oktoberfest.

2615 Broadway, Redwood City; (650) 364-9232.
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Trevor Felch

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