The romance with German food begins at Schatzi’s Pub and Bier Garden, a new gastropub on Poughkeepsie’s Main Street. But there’s a twist: patrons choose the food that will go best with their beer — not the other way around.
Owner and self-proclaimed “beer brain” Jeremy Phillips opened the restaurant back in August to recreate the German beer hall experience he had come to love through his travels. In this high-ceilinged space in a 1908 building (most recently home to Karma Lounge), patrons first encounter a long, copper-topped bar. Behind it, an outsized blackboard announces the many beers available. Fourteen busy taps flow with a rainbow of hues, from golden Bavarian wheat bier to startlingly crimson-colored Red C from the much-ballyhooed Sloop Brewing Company in Poughkeepsie. This place is not about slinging the suds. Bartenders take care in the presentation. They garnish mugs with citrus wedges and arrange little sampler glasses on a wooden paddle. Close your eyes and you might think you’re in a wine-tasting room, overhearing comments like “notes of cedar” and “crisp and earthy.”
Behold the hops Randall on the bar — an ingenious, mad scientist-like device that infuses the brew with dried hops to increase the intensity of the flavor (without ramping up the alcohol). “It’s like beer on steroids,” says Phillips happily. On the Randall the day we visited was Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA. The beer’s quirky name comes from the method of brewing, explains Phillips. “They add hops for every minute of brewing over an hour-long period, rather than putting all the hops in at once.”
You could sit there all day schmoozing with the amiable Phillips — a New Paltz native who has worked in restaurants since high school and, most recently, as a rental car executive. He’d be happy to teach you endlessly weird and wonderful facts about beer and share insider’s lingo — like ABV (that’s alcohol content by volume) and IBU (international bittering unit).
Get to the pint: Schatzi’s brews take center stage
But, eventually, you’re going to get hungry.
And that’s where chef Timothy Farley comes in. A tattooed guy with a no-nonsense attitude, this CIA-trained chef has cooked at spots all over the Valley, most recently at Bull & Buddha and the Nuddy Irishman. To develop the menu, Farley looked to America first, and Germany second.
“I start by thinking about pub grub that everyone’s had and then taking it to a new level,” says Farley. “Everyone has a club sandwich on their menu, so I made my own Schnitzel Club.” Instead of mozzarella sticks, Farley serves warm pretzel sticks with a cheddar-beer fondue. And don’t expect Wing Night here: Instead, pencil in Schnitzel Night on Monday, Sauerbraten Night on Tuesday, and Pierogi Night on Wednesday.
When it comes to ordering, let the handy craft beer menu be your guide. For instance, if you’re drinking a Victory Headwaters Pale Ale made with all German malts, go for the Grown Up Tater Tots (crispy potato dumplings stuffed with pork and cheddar). “Frickles,” beer-battered garlic-dill pickle chips, go great with your pint of Ithaca Apricot Wheat ale. And your Sixpoint Brewery Sweet Action pale ale from Brooklyn begs for a Schatzi Burger topped on a toasted pretzel bun.
Served on the weekend, the small-plate menu has proven popular, especially among big tables of guests who want to share. German deviled eggs topped with smoked salmon and house-made pickles and angus beef sliders served with signature purple Schatzi sauce (a braised red cabbage aïoli) are just a few faves.
With a bar area that seats 40 and a leafy beer garden that accommodates 40 more (a heated tent is on the agenda for November and December), the restaurant draws a sizable, happy crowd. In case you’re wondering: Yes, there are plenty of women buying rounds for each other, too, and even some families on the weekend. Don’t worry — you’re not going to encounter the rowdy college crowd. “When I was in college, I certainly wasn’t drinking craft beer,” points out Phillips. “It would have been Bud Light or the cheapest thing possible.”
Schatzi’s Pub and Bier Garden