The biergarten has become a gartenbar, but those awesome pretzels remain.
was popular from the start. The Magic City’s first German biergarten opened about a year ago to rave reviews and consistent crowds but then took a cold-weather hiatus to make a few changes.
It reopened on April 23 and very quickly became popular again.
I visited Brät Brot for Alabama Newscenter. You can read the entire story here and find out just what to order.
The large, carved limestone bar remains a stunning focal point in this open, airy space that was once Plant Odyssey. You’ll still find plenty of German beers on tap as well as local brews, but now there also are draft craft cocktails, a nice selection of wines, European-style mixed drinks and specialty liqueurs.
Angela Schmidt, Brät Brot’s new executive chef, says there’s a cozier atmosphere here now and an updated menu. Schmidt has been part of the local restaurant community for nearly two decades. She spent her formative years in the kitchens of some of Birmingham’s top restaurants. As an entrepreneur, she founded Chef U, an interactive, in-home dining experience. She is a founding member, and the first president, of the Birmingham chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier International. And she has a German pedigree; her great-great-great grandfather was from Bremen.
Reimagining Brät Brot from beer garden to garden bar allows Schmidt and her staff to put the emphasis on much more than beer. The food, especially, is exciting.
Most of the dishes are divided into small and medium a la carte portions. There’s a meatball slider with lemon caper sauce on a King’s Hawaiian roll; a fishcake sandwich is made with fresh salmon and topped with shaved pickled cucumber and remoulade; a Bavarian chef salat with mortadella and butterkäse, red onion, cornichons, cucumbers and red peppers on iceberg with creamy Dijon dressing; and the BirmingHamburger with bacon, butterkäse, pickled red onion, lettuce and tomatoes and haus pickles.
There are four large boards that are meant for sharing. The snack board has a giant pretzel, beer cheese, apple butter, summer sausage, butterkäse, dill-pickled vegetables and fruit. The larger German board features bratwurst, Hungarian sausage, cheddarwurst, a pretzel, Bavarian potato salad, chow-chow, beer cheese, pickled veggies, sauerkraut, yogurt-dill cucumbers and haus mustards. Then there’s the Kummerspeck, which Schmidt says translates to “emotional over-eating” and features s’mores, apple strudel, black forest cake roll and vanilla ice cream.
Even a casual look at the Brät Brot menu reveals a Southern twist on a German theme.
It felt like a natural approach, Schmidt says, because there are pockets of German culture throughout the South. “For instance, Kentucky has a large concentration of German immigrants. … Central Texas has a lot of German immigrants as well. … So we have woven in Southern ingredients; our beer cheese is kind of like a pimento cheese. We have a Southern chow-chow on the menu. We tried to … broaden the concept to kind of take in all of these influences just to make something that’s more local, more … Southern and approachable.”
Brät Brot (by the way, Brot rhymes with goat and it translates loosely to “sausage bread”) is owned by David Carrigan, who also owns Carrigan’s Public House on Morris Avenue in downtown Birmingham. Like Carrigan’s, Brät Brot is designed to be a place for gathering, a place for fun in a lighthearted atmosphere.
Brat Brot has filled a niche in the awesome Birmingham food scene by offering delicious food and great drinks, German and otherwise, that are both familiar and excitingly unusual, Schmidt says. “And we’re doing that in a unique setting. Brät Brot is a gathering spot. It’s comfortable.”
Brät Brot Gartenbar
2910 6thAve. S.
Birmingham, AL 35233 (near Birmingham’s Lakeview area)
Tuesday through Thursday: 4 to 11 p.m.
Friday: 4 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.
Saturday: 11 a.m. to 12:30 a.m.