The Good German

People’s Pub Seattle,WA 21.Nov 09
Eat: Wiener Schnitzel, Spätzle, Rotkohl
Sip: Spaten Optimator

Before the trend of gastropubs - a pub with gourmet grub - swept the nation, there was The People’s Pub. This German tavern devotes just as much focus to the food as to the beer; the main attraction isn’t waitresses clad in busty, Bavarian dresses, but authentic, Swabian cuisine (foodie nerd note: Swabia is a cultural region in Southwest Germany).

Although the menu is peppered with more exotic fare like Jägerschnitzel or Paprikaschnitzel, I opt for the original Wiener Schnitzel Dinner, a heaping plate o’ comfort perfect for a rainy night in Seattle. The schnitzel is a hefty portion of thinly-pounded, moist pork blanketed in crispy breading. Although traditional Wiener Schnitzel is made with veal, this porcine version is quite common (and more palatable to the “non-baby cow-eating” crowd). In this world where pastas are laden with sumptuous sauces and fancy ingredients, the simplicity of the spätzle, a starchy, egg pasta in butter sauce, is down-to-earth pleasure. The veggie part of the plate, if you don’t count the dusting of green parsley garnish, is vibrant, fuschia rotkohl, a traditional German dish of red cabbage sautéed in vinegar and apple cider. This meal is a nostalgic nod to my childhood, when mom often served up breaded chicken cutlets (fried in butter rather than the more healthy & culinary-savvy olive oil we use now) with buttery rice pilaf. In fact, my love of butter-yes, this is the FIFTH time that word has been used in this entry-stems from my mom’s affection for the stuff - rather than spread a meager pat onto toast, she slathers thick ½” slabs. I swear I even once saw her sneak a square of unadorned butter out of the fridge! In sticking to German tradition, I quaff a regional brew, Spaten Optimator, a full-bodied, dark ale brimming with roasted malt flavor.

The People’s Pub embodies all that a neighborhood bar should be. It’s located in a picturesque part of town (Ballard), the food is filling and tasty, the quality beer is available in pitchers, and there is a cozy, conviviality that beckons groups and individuals alike. Plus, there are a variety of board games to encourage hours of good times amongst friends. As I sit surrounded by my sister & brother-in-law (who are the wise folks who introduced me to this pub), I can’t think of a better way to welcome me back to Seattle.