Frau Kemmling’s Schoolhaus Brewhaus on Bigham Knoll in Jacksonville is known for good, solid German food and wonderful imported beers. The restaurant is a delightful and delicious four seasons dining experience that is particularly splendid just now with the approach of summer.
Outside in the biergarten, the spring trees are just leafing out dappling the tables with a light green shade. Families gather around the lawn tables for bocce ball, mini golf and bean bag toss. Inside, the dining room is dark wood, with lace curtained windows and large, solid tables seating big families where kids color, laugh and talk while their parents enjoy a good German beer. It is an intimate and fragrant space, redolent of the classic cuisines of Germany.
Schoolhaus Brewhaus has a wide selection of appetizers to choose from including salads, soups and fondue, to name just a few. The Brezel (pretzel) is German made and imported — crisp and chewy with a tender center, served hot with a side of cheese sauce and three kinds of mustard: sweet, spicy brown and whole seed. At $5.00 (add $2 for cheese sauce), the pretzel is big enough to tease the appetites of three or four folks.
To sample the widest selection of the restaurant’s German specialties, consider the Vorspeises Platte, or Appetizer Plate, at $15.75. This substantial sampler will satisfy four tasters. The big blue plate has schnitzel strips, a cabbage roll, wurst stradl, potato pancake with sour cream and a smoked salmon cake. The cabbage roll has a cream cheese, vegetable and sausage filling and is plated with Schoolhaus Brewhaus’s Rahmsauce made with cream, mushrooms and white wine. Wurst stradl is a cup of bratwurst slices or coins, breaded and fried. The potato pancake is served with both the tart-sweet, house-made lingonberry jam and applesauce.
Hamburgers and fries are on the menu for those who rarely waver from the old standard, and hot dogs too. But for those just a tad more adventurous, there’s a world to choose from including sandwiches, a wide variety of Uli’s Favorite sausages at $11 with sides, and European comfort casseroles made with dumplings, sauerkraut or lentils. The menu is marked to note vegetarian, gluten free selections.
Tuesday is Schnitzel Tuesday. A schnitzel is a tender pork loin, delicately seasoned, lightly breaded and fried, served with a choice of ten different treatments, from The Horsey (horseradish, kale and beets) to The Normandy (pear chutney with a brandy reduction). Tuesday’s schnitzels are $16.99 to $17.99 and come with two sides that include a choice of dilled cabbage, potato salad, pancakes, dumplings and others.
My choice for the evening was a pork schnitzel with Frau Kemmeling’s Jagersauce, a complex and deeply savory sauce with bacon, mushrooms, cream and smoked paprika. Served with buttery mashed potatoes or toothsome spätzle (I tasted both) and sautéed spring vegetables, my appetite was well sated. I had no room for dessert though I was sore tempted by Black Forest Cake, German Chocolate Cake, bread pudding and strudel. My preference, of course, would have been the dessert sampler plate to taste them all.
There are lots of special events to watch out for at Schoolhaus Brewhaus: beer pairing dinners, polka parties, putt-putt and pints, the Stein Club and Döner Wednesdays, when a seasoned lamb and beef kabab on a steamed flatbread with vegetables and sauce is just $5.00.
Not to be missed is the Schoolhaus Brewhaus extensive beer menu, with dunkels, hefeweizens, pilsners and maibocks available in very, very large beer steins or glasses that humans can more easily manage. Locals love Frau Kemmling’s bierstube and with a good lager in hand, no one’s a stranger.
As of this month, Schoolhaus Brewhaus has a new chef, Chad Smith who is well known around the valley for his earlier work with Larks Medford and Elements. He loves the beers served at Schoolhaus Brewhaus and also appreciates Southern Oregon wine saying, “We have so much great produce here in the valley that we can pair with the wine, tasting flavors grown side by side.”
Smith is focusing on today’s menu and also dreaming about the future at Schoolhaus Brewhaus.
“I’d like to expand on the local side of things and use local produce to create German foods, use the garden more,” Smith says.
Who knows, maybe someday, Smith will make his own signature sausage at Schoolhaus Brewhaus.
Schoolhaus Brewhaus is at 525 Bigham Knoll Drive in Jacksonville. Restaurant hours are 3 to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday; and 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday. The bar is open later. Call 541-899-1000 or see theschoolhaus.com for more information.