Just in time for Oktoberfest, diners are ready to dig into German food with new relish. Be sure to include plenty of beer on your menu, and you’ll be in fine shape. “Especially in urban areas, Oktoberfest is increasingly popular, driven by a huge resurgence of interest in beer,” says Maeve Webster, president of Menu Matters, a consultancy focused on helping foodservice operators and food manufacturers analyze, understand and leverage trends.
While consumers certainly love to experiment with craft beers and IPAs, they also are increasingly interested in taking beer back to the source of its origin, and many of those roads lead to one place – Germany. “Just as authenticity and history are receiving increased attention in the food world, the beer world is also interested in going back to the beginning,” Webster says.
“The hurdle this cuisine runs into is that it’s not perceived as healthy in any way, so Americans find it harder to indulge in frequently,” she says. “Still, there is quite a bit of innovation going on with German cuisine, and I’ve seen some fun new twists with items like pretzels and spaetzle.”
If chefs begin to focus on German fare from an authentic historical perspective, there will be new inspiration and innovation in the field, Webster feels. And many restaurants around the country seem to be stepping up to the challenge. At the Café Berlin in Washington, D.C., consumers are lining up for the Fruhstucksplatte, a German breakfast. The Bittercreek Alehouse in Boise, Idaho is serving Beer Bratwurst, a porter-braised house-made bratwurst served with caramelized onion beer jam and alehouse mustard. And at the Bohemia House in Chicago, the spätzle gets a gourmet twist with hen of the woods mushrooms, broccoli, caramelized onions and emmentaler cheese.
Maeve Webster’s top picks
What are Chicago-resident Webster’s favorite in-town German spots? “One favorite is Bohemia House,” she says. “Dishes are executed in a modern way that makes the menu both authentic and interesting. Another great restaurant that’s treating German food with a more modern sensibility is The Radler. It’s a hike from downtown Chicago, but worth it for the food.”
Marzetti Frozen Pasta® Precooked Spaetzle Dumplings are a great way to offer a German-themed special or menu item.
Contact Maeve Webster at Menu Matters email@example.com