Von Trier has had quite the year. But the dimly lit landmark is aglow again with its menu of German brews, hot coffee drinks and (as of last week) a new food menu.
The iconic German tavern and beer garden at 2235 N. Farwell Ave. changed hands last May when Cindy and John Sidoff sold the business to Mark Zierath, co-owner of Jackson’s Blue Ribbon Pub Downtown, and Brian Eft, co-owner of O’Brien’s Irish Pub on Vliet.
From the start, the new owners assured guests that their goal was to maintain the integrity of the longtime East Side bar. In fact, their overall plans included just a few improvements: a renovation of the bar’s kitchen, the addition of a few new cocktails, and the promise of a Friday night fish fry.
All of those things are on the cusp of coming to pass, thanks to six months of work spent renovating the bar’s kitchen, adding new equipment and doubling its size by expanding its footprint to include the square footage formerly occupied by the bar’s back restrooms (which were relocated across the hall).
"We are both excited to take Von Trier to the next level," says Zierath. "We plan on being here for quite some time, and we want this place to be bigger and better than ever while maintaining all of its great and storied history."
In keeping with those goals, Zierath says they designed the new menu to meet customer expectations while celebrating the bar’s identity as a German beer hall.
Bar food with a German twist
Von Trier’s new menu, executed under the direction of Chef Jesse Anderson, debuted last week.
Staples include shareable beer-friendly items like fried Hofbrau beer-battered cheese curds served with a choice of sauces (honey mustard, peppercorn ranch or buttermilk gorgonzola, $10); fried jumbo chicken wings (with choice of Buffalo, garlic parmesan, honey Sriracha, BBQ or beer mustard sauce, $10); and Milwaukee Pretzel Company’s Bavarian pretzels, served alongside housemade obatzda (Bavarian beer cheese spread) and stone ground honey mustard ($10).
A currywurst sampler features grilled Usinger’s sausages, including bratwurst, wiesswurst and bockwurst over Bavarian sauerkraut with housemade curry ketchup, stone ground mustard, sourdough bread and pretzel ($12).
There are also salads, including a pretzel salad with romaine and baby kale, crisped Hungarian sausage, shaved fennel and pretzel croutons with a mustard herb vinaigrette ($12) and a variety of sandwiches from jagerschnitzel with mushroom sauce, house pickles and microgreens ($13) to The Von Trier burger featuring a half-pound Angus chuck patty topped with Hofbrau onions, bacon, muenster, lettuce, tomato and garlic peppercorn aioli on a brioche bun ($12).
Beer brats made by the Foltz Family Market are served traditionally with sauerkraut and stone ground mustard (or beer cheese) on a pretzel roll ($10), as is the "sausage of the week." Beyond Burgers and Sausages are also available for $2 more.
Friday fish fry
Beginning Nov. 22, Von Trier will also debut its Friday night fish fry featuring Haufbrau Haus Friesing Jagerbier battered cod with coleslaw, rye bread, tartar sauce, lemon and a choice of potato pancakes, fries or house chips (two pieces for $12 or three for $15). There’s also paprika baked cod available with all the fixins for $15.
Other options include a bluegill sandwich served on brioche with tartar sauce, lettuce and tomato. It’s served with coleslaw and guest’s choice of sides ($12) and clam chowder ($3 per cup or $6 per bowl).
Starting Sunday, Nov. 24, Von Trier will also offer Sunday brunch weekly from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The menu will feature breakfast standards like two eggs, hashbrowns, meat and toast ($10); build-your-own omelettes ($11); thick cut challah French toast with whipped butter, syrup and berries ($9) and stuffed French toast filled with cream cheese and strawberries ($10).
Additional items include traditional eggs benedict or Florentine Benedict ($10), the Von Trier Skillet with scrambled eggs, onion, peppers, bacon, ham and muenster, served with hashbrowns and toast ($12).
And yes, there will be brunch cocktails including a bloody mary, mimosa, French 75 and a variety of Von Trier coffee drinks ($8-10)
More to come
Beginning in December, Zierath says they will also roll out a number of brand new craft cocktails created in collaboration with Great Lakes Distillery (including four unique tap cocktails). The kitchen will also roll out a variety of new offerings including wing specials on Wednesday nights and a special German menu (with a variety of rotating dishes) on Thursday evenings. The restaurant will also begin offering Saturday lunch service in the weeks ahead.
The kitchen at Von Trier is open Monday through Thursday from 4 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday from 4 to 11 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 9 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.