They’ve been open a little over a month after a lengthy journey, and The Hall on Washington, 108 E. Washington, makes a great spot to pregame or postgame when visiting the YUM! Center. It has sleek modern decor in an atmosphere that is very muted, like a sound studio – so the music and chatter is nice and doesn’t bounce of the walls like many restaurants (thanks to their thoughtful design and noise buffering installations).
Sitting on the same block as Hell or High Water and Troll Pub, this German restaurant and bar serves up their own take on German food, one they want to appeal to younger generations.
“We consider ourselves ‘Nouveau’ German,” said General Manager Mike McGorty, who is also the culinary director and co-general manager at sister restaurant Sidebar around the corner. “Our research trips around the Midwest taught us younger crowds just want the big beer and a sausage where that older crowd wants that $40 plate of sauerbraten and rouladen and heavier dishes like that. So we wanted to be a little cooler. We look at our menu like a German tapas style.”
He went on to say they found that people really liked customizing toppings for the burgers at Sidebar, and so they brought that same concept to the sausages at The Hall where “you pick your sausage, pick how you want it, pick your toppings, and we deliver it how you want it. We sell all the sides a la carte, so it’s not that heavy [traditional German] plate with no substitutions.”
There are five sausage topping options to be exact (and each sausage comes with your choice of two. McGorty and his team tasted 150 to 170 sausages and presented 60 to the ownership to narrow it down to the 6 on the menu. The toppings are sauerkraut, peppers & onions, red cabbage, bavarian slaw, pickled onions, tomato jam, shaved pickle, and pickle relish.
“We did a bratwurst category and collected them from everywhere we could. What we found is that the authentic german style is very good but we had to make it understandable for Kentucky. The european palate is a little different than what we have here. We had several rounds of cuttings.”
Their Scheboygan is a course ground meaty brat, the Bavarian is a more smooth almost emulsified European style brat. Their number one selling sausage is the Polish jalapeño with beef and pork—it’s got the right amount of kick to it. They also have an all beef European frankfurter with a hint of garlic, an Italian sausage course ground with a fennel bite or a chicken and garlic sausage for those who don’t want pork. They even have a Beyond bratwurst with plant based protein from pea and beet juice for Vegetarians and Vegans. If you order the Wurst Platter, you can choose 3 sausages, red cabbage, sauerkraut, bread, and shaved pickles .
They also have options like sandwiches or items from the grill like steak frites, a schnitzel with pretzel-breaded chicken, schwenkbraten (grilled pork chops, seasoned butter, julienne fries) and char-grilled oysters. Sides include a variety of fries and other German items like Käsespätzle (a type of pasta made with fresh eggs).
They also offer a “Build a Board” charcuterie option (where you pick your meats, toppings and cheeses) and a good salad section. Their fried Brussels sprout salad is one of my new favorite dishes in Louisville. It was amazing with shaved sprouts, red cabbage, carrot, cranberry, spiced pecans, onion straws, sweet chili vinaigrette.
“We took some recipes and modified them and structured them so we can execute them quickly,” said McGorty, stressing the importance of speed when dealing with the high volume YUM center traffic.” Our food fits the flavor profile of the cuisine but not so much the traditions.”
It’s hard to think of a German hall without beer, and they have plenty to offer— from a $2.50 7-ounce tasting beer to a huge “oh my god” 42-ounce stein. Some of their German beers include Hofbrau, Wartsteiner, and Radeberger, which they are the first in Kentucky to carry on tap. You can view their beer list on their web site.
“People get a true taste,” McGorty explained about the 7-ounce beer. “When people ask for just a little taste, they don’t really get a full sense of the beer, so we sell those to give them enough to really get a taste, because a sample is never a true representation of what it is. With beer, you have to let the head settle; you’ve got to let it temper a little.”
Hall is open Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. and Friday from 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. On Saturday, they are open at noon and close at 10:30 p.m. They are closed Sunday.
Photography: The Fried Brussels Sprout Salad.