You expect to see homemade pretzels and lots of sausages, smoked in-house, of course, but The Radler, along a promising block in Logan Square, is taking the German beer hall experience up a few notches, thanks to Nathan Sears, who got his start working at Vie in Western Springs. He fuses classic French technique and his knowledge of local ingredients to create a new style.
"I try and use the food and the techniques that I know to appeal to a German palate," said Sears.
So yes, there's schnitzel, albeit with oranges and pickled kohlrabi and sides of acorn squash, as well as a German onion pie with shaved Brussels sprouts and a bacon vinaigrette. But there's an emphasis on sourcing ingredients, using much more than hearty cabbage.
"Pastured pork, grass-fed, dry-aged beef, and that's not just the stuff on the plate, that's what is going into the sausage as well," said Sears.
Of the four wursts on hand, check out the boarwurst, plated with a beet puree, a date-celery jam, some grilled frisee and golden raisins. A soft-cooked egg rests over mashed cauliflower, surrounded by sauteed sunchokes and pickled garlic. Purple cauliflower is shaved on top, while pickled grapes and fresh dill show that the menu is more ambitious than you might expect.
"That way we start to show people how we're approaching the concept instead of putting spaetzle as the only starch and boiled potatoes as the only starch and cabbage as the only veg. Especially this time of year it's nice to be able to show the flexibility and how we're gonna interpret German food," he said.
So if your memories of German food in Chicago are limited to Zum Deutchen Eck, The Brauhaus and the Berghoff, you're going to be pleasantly surprised with The Radler. From the food to the spirits and of course, the beer. Prost!
2375 N. Milwaukee Ave.