Old Town Scottsdale’s first and only German restaurant is a much-needed addition to an area that tends to ascribe to snobbishly overdone style and gild the lily in cuisine.
Payton Curry, local chef known for his reverence for good, simple food, recently opened Brat Haüs with local restaurateur Dave Andrea. I was pleasantly surprised to find that chef Curry’s innovative menu redefines his restaurant’s namesake, presenting patrons with a fresh, interesting take on the traditional bratwurst in an atmosphere reminiscent of a German pub — complete with hightop tables and community benches.
Bratwurst, as a food, tends to be fairly straightforward, even dull at times. I found the eponymous main dish at Brat Haüs to be quite the opposite — fresh, lively, unexpected, and simply very good. Every variety I ordered exceeded my expectations. From the more traditional beer bratwurst paired with house-made sauerkraut to the exotic Moroccan lamb paired with spicy pepper mix, each brat was vastly different from the previous.
The latter was particularly impressive — a North African-inspired dish with spicy, herbaceous flavors and the heartiness one expects from lamb.
For those diners with an adventurous streak, Brat Haüs offers a rattlesnake sausage, “slashed and fried East Coast Style.” Not to submit to the age-old quip, but it actually did taste a little bit like chicken.
As enamored as I was with the sausage at Brat Haüs, I was equally disappointed in the pretzel. It’s just not great. And while it may seem like a minor, inconsequential detail, the humble pretzel is a crucial part of German cuisine.
Pretzels are not a food that needs to be overthought, which is unfortunately the case here. The tough pretzels at Brat Haüs taste like plain, whole-wheat bread. I’m sure that chef Curry was quite mindful in his choice to make this type of pretzel, but said choice needs to be re-thought. A basic, soft pretzel would solve the issue and complement the rest of the food nicely.
A warning to the indecisive: there are a multitude of choices at Brat Haüs. Each brat includes one topping (additional toppings $0.75 each), and every option I tried was delicious, vibrant and deliberately selected for the menu.
In addition, an order of fries comes with one sauce, or two if you order a large. And while the fries are nothing to write home about, they make a lovely vehicle for the array of condiments: Sriracha aioli, house thousand-island and bleu cheese bacon sauce to name a few.
The food at Brat Haüs is great, but the drinks deserve special mention. The beer list is comprehensive, but in this case, quality trumps quantity. Brat Haüs doesn’t have your favorite? Not a problem for the in-house “bru masters.” They know almost everything about every draft and bottle, and if Brat Haüs is missing a brew, they are more than willing to share their considerable knowledge to recommend a similar style.
Brat Haüs even boasts a considerable selection of artisan sodas both bottled and house-made. Between the vintage root beers and fruit and herb Haüs sodas, designated drivers will find the selection a refreshing departure from the ubiquitous tea and soft drinks at other establishments.
Chef Curry’s new concept is a great spot for those looking to venture off of Mill Avenue. With the rising popularity of artisan beer among the early-20s crowd, Brat Haüs is a fantastic choice for a Friday night out with friends, especially considering that the sausages cost $5.75 to $8.75. The wonderful cuisine and lively, industrial-meets-pub atmosphere will make the restaurant a Scottsdale hot spot.
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