During one of our frequent visits to Jacksonville we stumbled upon this magnificent beer hall and garden. We would have had lunch there immediately, but we had just had brunch at the Jacksonville Inn, which was wonderful, but is a different story.
Upon seeing the Schoolhaus Brewhaus, situated on a hilltop surrounded by hop trellises and grape vines, we were immediately transported to our haunts in Germany and Austria. We decided we needed to eat there as soon as time permitted. When time allows we usually research the establishment before going. Schoolhause Brewhaus reviews were all over the map, great food (5 stars) / lousy food (1 star), fabulous staff / lousy staff (staff person takes order and is never seen again.) Averaged out to be sub-par, but I’m thinking, hey, it’s based ona German theme, it’s got to be good.
We went today and sad to say, it was very disappointing. We thought we’d start with the basics, recipes you can get in any Germanic restaurant. Jim had Bratwurst, red cabbage and potato salad. I had Schnitzel, sauerkraut, and potato pancake.
Our son, James makes these dishes for us all the time, in fact he makes the best Schnitzel outside of Germany/Austria, perhaps the best inside Germany/Austria. My Grandmother made potato pancakes every Friday night. We travel to European countries often, so this was not our first time at the rodeo.
Jim said Johnsonville Bratwurst was a better product then what he had this afternoon. Red cabbage and potato salad weren’t bad but we make much better at home. (Secret, our red cabbage comes out of a jar.)
My potato pancake was greasy and tasteless, it appeared the person in the kitchen took a frozen hash-brown cake and threw it in a pan without seasoning, not even a hint of onion, but used plenty of oil and, kind of, fried it. My Schnitzel was also a slab of pork with a greasy tasteless coating of something stuck right on the flesh. I won’t place all the responsibility on the poor soul in the kitchen. I would think that he/she was trying to do the best they could. It was very apparent they had no idea of what they were attempting to cook should taste like. My guess is a genuine lack of knowledge and training for cooks at this establishment.
A couple of explanations on my comments: A “real” potato pancake is always made from raw potatoes, grated on the finest and smallest level on a hand grater, producing a mush. They are NEVER precooked, shredded or food processed. Raw onion is also added using same grating process. Concerning Schnitzel, properly done, the coating always puffs away from the meat, it NEVER sticks. Therefore the meat, unlike today, is moist and juicy and the crust is crisp.
As you can now surmise, we might go back there and have a beer (the beer was good) and perhaps a pretzel and sit among their hop trellises or vineyards. Good thing they have ambiance and beer, because nothing culinary is happening here.