If you’ve been waiting with bated breath to get your first taste of the new Karl Ratzsch Restaurant, you will be happy to note that the wait is officially over. As of this evening, you can make reservations for your visit to the recently remodeled restaurant via Open Table, or by phone at (414) 276-2720.
The restaurant, which reopens to the public on April 18, will showcase a spiffy new interior, which includes new flooring, refinished wooden paneling and new lighting, along with numerous elements which serve to restore the former grandeur of Milwaukee’s most iconic German eatery.
The new menu, which Chef Thomas Hauck says "looks a lot like a menu from 1935" in terms of its design, will also feature a bevvy of classic dishes.
Table snacks will include options like German obatzda (beer cheese spread) with pretzel bites ($10), sauerkraut fritters stuffed with sausage and bacon ($10) and Germanhard salami and Camembert ($13).
Appetizers will include the "cobbler hot potato" with layers of potato, pork belly, pear and sweet onions ($10), Königsberger klop featuring veal and beef meatballs with lemon and caper sauce ($8), and beef rouladen with pickles, mustard and sweet onions ($13).
Soups and salads will include Ratzsch’s liver dumpling soup ($8) along with beer cheese soup ($7), potato and cucumber salad ($7), and dandelion salad with mustard, bacon and honey ($7).
Meanwhile, classic German entrees include a smoked pork chop with pickled red cabbage and stewed apples ($28), pork shank with spaetzle and saurkraut ($26), and saurbraten with potato dumpling and gingersnap gravy ($26). Salmon will be prepared with beets, horseradish and sour cream ($24); goose shank will be served with wild rice, honey and pickled red cabbage ($35); and a 16-ounce veal porterhouse with sauerkraut, mustard jus and potato dumplinig for $42.
Hauck says the restaurant is working closely with numerous local businesses, including Usinger’s, who will supply the restaurant’s sausages.
"Usinger’s has a really deep catalog, and we went through it and picked some things that really epitomize the best of German sausages," says Hauck.
Those sausages are featured in a "Schnitzel & Wurst" section of the menu, which includes Landjäewger, Knackwurst, Bockwurst, blood sausage and Weisswurst. Two sausages with two small sides will run $16, while five sausages served with two large sides will be $35. Schnitzel options include wienerschnitzel served with parsley, lemon and red cabbage ($21), schnitzel nach weiner art with anchovy, capers and egg ($23) and ramschnitzel with cremini mushroom sauce ($23).
On the sweeter side, Hauck says that German desserts will include bienenstich (beesting torte), apple streudel, quark cheesecake and classic schaum torte that Hauck promises will be crisp on the exterior and pleasingly marshmallow in the center.
At the bar
The restaurant’s bar has also been given a refresh and will feature two classic Bavarian beer towers, each showcasing six beer taps. Among a cadre of German brews will be two locally made beers, including "Otto’s Dunkel," a Lakefront Brewery beer made specifically for Karl Ratzsch and named after Herman Otto, the restaurant’s founder. On the spirits side, Hauck says the bar will also offer a nice selection of schnapps.
Beginning April 18, Karl Ratzsch will be open Monday through Thursday from 5 to 10 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 5 to 11 p.m. And updated web site with photos and a full menu will launch next week.
Later this spring, the restaurant will also open for lunch on weekdays between 11:30 and 1:30 p.m.
Lori Fredrich (Lo) is an eater, writer, wonderer, bon vivante, traveler, cook, gardener and girlwonder. Born and raised in the Milwaukee area, she has tried to leave many times, but seems to be drawn to this quirky city that smells of beer and alewives.
Some might say that she is a little obsessed with food. Lo would say she is A LOT obsessed with food. After all, she has been cooking, eating and enjoying food for decades and has no plans to retire anytime soon.
Lo's recipes and writing have been featured in a variety of publications including GO: Airtran Inflight Magazine, Cheese Connoisseur, Cooking Light, Edible Milwaukee, Milwaukee Magazine and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, as well as on the blog Go Bold with Butter, the web site Wisconsin Cheese Talk, and in the quarterly online magazine Grate. Pair. Share.