Trying New Places: Schmidt’s Sausage Haus und Restaurant

(photo is from before pandemic, don’t worry)

Athena ScalziThis past weekend I took a stroll down to German Village in Columbus, Ohio. My pals and I perused some shops, admired the architecture, saw two super cute cats, and best of all, ate at Schmidt’s Sausage Haus und Restaurant, which from here on out I will be calling Schmidt’s.

Perhaps you’re wondering why out of all the restaurants in Columbus, I chose to go to Schmidt’s. I’m glad you asked! It’s actually a very short tale. Back in the fall semester of 2018, I took German 101 at Miami University, and learned pretty basic German, as is to be suspected when you take a class called German 101. One of the chapters was entirely about food, cutlery, how to order at a restaurant, etc. So after learning about wurst and sauerkraut and apfelstrudel, I decided I simply had to try it. I’d never had German cuisine before, so I sought out a German restaurant, and per a Google search, I discovered Schmidt’s. Somehow, it took me two years to actually go and try it, but here we are! We made it. And boy howdy was it worth the wait!

I know that venturing out and eating at restaurants is a dangerous game in these “unprecedented times”. However, Schmidt’s has taken several precautions to promote a safe environment, such as hanging up clear shower curtain-like plastic sheets in between socially distanced tables, having people wait outside so as not to crowd the waiting area inside, and having you look at the menu on your phone by scanning a code instead of handing out physical menus. My friends and I wore our masks, of course.

After thoroughly scanning the menu, I decided I simply had to go with the sausage sampler platter. When in Rome, and all that. Four different sausages, hot sauerkraut, German potato salad, chunky applesauce AND a side of bread made up this amazing plate.

The sausages were, in a word, delicious. I’m not even a big pork fan, but these sausages were seriously good. There was one of the four that had a bit of a kick to it, and normally I hate spicy stuff, but it was actually quite tasty! My friends tried a bite of each of my sausages and all of us agreed it was some truly bangin’ sausage. The sauerkraut and potato salad were excellent as well, and the applesauce was surprisingly great, like probably the best applesauce I’ve ever had. It was sweet, cinnamony, and a little chunky, as the name “chunky applesauce” suggests. Even the bread was slappin’! All around, a fantastic platter that I would highly recommend.

My friend got the Haus Saurbraten, which is marinated beef over spätzel noodles with gingersnap gravy, and mashed potatoes and green beans for the side. I got to try some of it and it was definitely good, but the gingersnap gravy was the true star of the dish, it had such a unique flavor! My other friend got the loaded potato soup, and no surprise, it was delicious.

Can you really review a restaurant if you don’t have dessert, too? I mean, probably, but it doesn’t hurt to also have dessert. So, I got their famed 1/2 pound cream puff to split with my friends, as well as their German Chocolate Cake, because, duh, it’s German! They have a couple different flavors of cream puffs, and we ordered the black raspberry chocolate chip one. It was so yummy, the cream was fluffy and light, the pastry itself was perfectly airy and golden, all around it was awesome and we devoured it. The cake was pretty okay, the frosting was probably the best part of an otherwise very normal chocolate cake.

All in all, an awesome place to eat, I definitely recommend checking it out if you’re ever in Columbus! I’m very glad I got to go and I’m hoping to go again soon. I honestly might just end up ordering the exact same thing again because it was so good. Even if I don’t eat there again next time I’m in Columbus, I’ll be sure to stop by and get a cream puff to go, because wow.

If you’ve been there, tell me about your experience in the comments! And have a great day!

-AMS

54 Comments on “Trying New Places: Schmidt’s Sausage Haus und Restaurant”

  1. Schmidt’s is a classic that lives up to its rep. Hope you got a chance to check out the Book Loft. It is a great place to get lost.

  2. Sounds like a good time with good eats and good company.

    But I have to tell you that the German in German chocolate cake has nothing to do with the country or the language. There was a guy named Bill German who made and sold chocolate with his name on it. Still the stuff and the cake made with it are both terrific. But not Teutonic

  3. Hmm, looking at the data, right now Columbus, OH, seems a lot safer than here in Johnson County, IA (Iowa City area, where there’s been a recent spike in cases). A restaurant taking precautions in your area should be fairly low risk, whereas I would not set foot inside a restaurant here.

    According to the NY Times COVID-19 database, the Columbus, Ohio area has had 0.9 reported cases per 1000 over the past two weeks, versus 3.4 reported cases per 1000 in the Iowa City area (where I am right now) or 0.3 reported cases per 1000 in NYC (which is one of the most COVID-safe places in the US right now after they got their huge initial wave of cases under control). The recent trend in the Columbus area is fairly stable, at 1911 cases in the most recent 7 days vs 1744 cases in the preceding 7 days.

    According to the John Hopkins database, recent % positive tests for Ohio is 4.1% which below the recommended maximum of 5% vs 14.73% here in Iowa.

  4. German food gets a bad rap that is entirely unmerited. Of course it can be done poorly. What can’t? I think the reputation is partly because a lot of it is peasant food, compared with what we think of when we think of French food, which is to say haute cuisine. Combine this with a lot of the German stereotypes and “good eating” does not spring to mind. Most large cities have one or two German restaurants. Not all are good, of course. But the good ones are worth a trip.

  5. Nom-nom! Columbusite, now in exile in southern California (I haven’t quite been here half my life, but it’s getting close). My parents and I would often go to Schmidt’s. My dad was a fiend for the cream puffs. I was never a fan.

    If you’re in the area, The Book Loft, is a great bookstore. Some new, some remaindered, a few used books, plus a ton of calendars, etc.

  6. Hmm, Windbeutel (if my dictionary is right, that’s the German for cream puff, just in case you ever want to order one in Germany), you’re making me hungry, and I can have German food all day every day by definition!

  7. I think this is a real difference between USA and UK. I have never seen a German restaurant in Britain. I guess it is that, apart from our Royal family, we do not really have a German migrant population.

  8. I visited Schmidt’s Sausage Haus during the Columbus World Fantasy Convention and loved it, but when I was there we didn’t order off the menu, instead browsing the buffet. But in our pandemic world, I’m guessing buffets are a thing of the past …

  9. I lived in Fulda, Germany for three years many moons ago when I was in the army and I loved trying out the small mom-and-pop places to eat. It was a good place to practice my German and get some great food. The food from street vendors is also really good. My favorite was currywurst, which was a spicy sausage sprinkled with curry powder and cut up into bite-sized chunks and served with a dipping sauce and plastic fork.

  10. Living right next door to Germany (well, OK, about 100km) and visiting often, I can agree that German cuisine is vastly underrated and that it is excellent; it is not just peasant food, there are luxury dishes as well, but it is just not as well known as French style Haute (and Nouvelle) Cuisine.

    One thing that would have sold me had I been close to Columbus was your remark that you got served a side of bread. There is a joke here in Europe that bread is to the Germans what cheese is to the French: almost every town has its own variation, and it is a major component of the diet, even at dinner as a side dish, or in some cases even part of the main. So Schmidt’s is definitely keeping up the Old World traditions.

    Funny coincidence that I had just finished looking up how to make Spätzle by hand when I got the notification for this blog post :)

  11. I grew up eating German food – my family is straight up German going back as far as we’ve ever been able to check on all sides of the family. And I learned at an early age that if there’s one food that Germans really know how to make, it’s sausage, in all it’s forms – yum!

    It’s been probably 45 years since I’ve been to Schmidt’s (after a visit over to the Ohio State Fair as a kid I seem to recall), and I still remember both my mother and father, who grew up in households with German immigrants sometimes doing the cooking, saying the food was like the best of what they grew up with. Good stuff that.

  12. Glad to hear that you liked it!
    Great place; I was there a few years ago.
    The Sausage Sampler chased with a cream puff was great, and the sauerbraten was no joke either.
    Glad to hear that it’s still there.
    Not many good German restaurants left here in NYC- we’ll have to get there next time we’re in Columbus.

  13. Somehow looking at that menu of german food as described and written by Americans feels funny – even compared to, say, reading a pizza menu in Italy. Maybe that’s because – as a german – I’ve never tasted german food outside of germany. Glad you liked it!
    German food is sometimes thought as “not very refined” – that’s because it was “peasant’s food” for a long time, and with the geography and climate (before modern times) of central europe rutabaga (or turnips? both are subspecies of Brassica, and I’m never quite sure of the translation) was a staple of german cuisine, and things didn’t get much better after that. Of course, nowadays modern agriculture and imports we have much more diverse food :) Also, a lot of foreign workers came to germany beginning in the 1950 and brought their food culture with them. Some people will tell you that they brought the idea of spices (beyond black pepper) with them, and that might be only slightly exaggerated :)

  14. I haven’t been there, but I see from the menu that there’s a side of Spätzle and green beans. I’d be interested to see how you enjoy that one, if you happen to get back there.

    My wife and I were driving through the Black Forest and stopped at a nice-looking A-frame that probably wasn’t called Zum Gummi Adler, and I saw that they had Spätzle on their menu – my favorite way for someone else to prepare noodles for me! I recognized Forelle (trout) also from my high school German, and ordered them together. The waitress gave me attitude: “Spätzle mit FISCH!!???” I held firm and was happy with my choice, despite the “Igitt, Amerikanische Touristen” looks I got from the room.

  15. When I lived in Van Nuys (CA) there was a very good German restaurant a couple blocks away. Now I wonder how that happened, since this was just in a San Fernando Valley suburb.

    In your other adventures have you sampled the Skyline chili in Cincinnati?

  16. Hmm … what all flavors of cream puffs do they have? Is there a sampler platter? Maybe a to-go with one of each? Plus can I get a cream puff and sausage sandwich, with sauerkraut and spicy mustard?

  17. Jim Gillogly: really, spätzle and fish… that’s on a level with those special burritos we all know.

  18. After those mouth-watering descriptions, I was hoping for a photo or two of the dishes. Or is that something you are not keen on?

  19. Considering that I expect to be living in Columbus in a few years note has been taken; though my brother who lives in Worthington is probably already familiar with the joint.

  20. OMG I had never thought to myself,”German food, that’s the ticket!” but now I’m drooling.

    You do some fine word pictures!

  21. The food sounds wonderful, but the shower curtain caught my attention, and I think I love that idea! Especially in a smaller place, or a narrow one, where even with table removed it’s hard to get distance. This place has adjusted brilliantly.

  22. Two thoughts:

    1.) w/r/t the comparison between French “haute cuisine” and German “peasant” food: some of the best French food is, in fact, peasant food–sometimes called “cuisine bourgeoise.” French farmers had to sell their best meat and vegs to fancy restaurants in town, then figure out how to make something good out of what they had left. Lots of good cookbooks available–or search under “bistro cooking” for a slightly more refined, but still very accessible and non-fussy, alternative.

    2.) As much as I, and many others, love sausage, here’s a quote attributed, rightly or wrongly, to Mark Twain: “People who respect our laws and like sausage shouldn’t watch either being made.”

  23. We really loved your article on Unabashed Shame for voting for Trump and we would like to feature you in our upcoming issue of “This Just In… Today’s Era.” Please let us know if we have your permission to quote you.

  24. Mmmmmmm, creeeeeeeeeeam puuuuuuuuufs.

    I’m glad you were able to get out and have a wonderful and *safe* meal. 😊

  25. oversixtyandstillriding, what part of England? There are a bunch of German restaurants in London, looks like; perhaps in other large cities as well.

  26. My German friends say that I am the only person they ever met that spoke the language with a southern drawl. That caused me to make fun of their food; cook up some bacon, throw the bacon away and cook with the grease.

    Then a real German restaurant opened in Tampa and I quit deriding their food. Hope it is still with us when the world turns back into a sociable place.

  27. Black raspberry choc chip cream puff? WANT! :D

    There’s a restaurant in Hahndorf, South Australia that serves pizza topped with sausage (as expected) plus potato & creamy mustard sauce. Tasty!

  28. Aw, this is a great post. My Aunt Jackie (Columbus resident) liked visiting German Village but I never got there myself. Some day I will have a yummy meal at Schmidt’s in her memory. Thanks for reminding me about Aunt Jackie :)

  29. Oh my gosh. My extended family is mainly based out of Columbus, Ohio (after they migrated in the 1930s during the depression), so we always go to Schmitz ever since the 70s when I was born. I even pay it a visit every time I work in town (Cardinal Health, then Nationwide). I always go for the schnitzels.

    If you want another recommended place (although I have no idea how COVID-19 proof they are): Gresso’s Restaurant and Bar. Especially on Tuesday when they do Taco Tuesdays, $2 beer, and $1 taco ($2 for the deluxe version). Having a buzz and a full stomach for $10 or so is so so so so nice.

    There are a bunch of very nifty places to eat in Columbus (B&D Mongolian – how much I’ve missed you!), so I would be happy to share some recommendations.

  30. Actually, a little-known fact about German chocolate cake is that it is not cake from Germany — it is in fact named for Sam German, an American baker.

  31. Aaah, I’ve been there! I remember wandering all over that neighborhood during my college years (long long ago). I don’t think I ate there, but there were several places nearby. I Haven’t been back there in ages, though, and I wonder how much it’s changed.

  32. Athena, once again you get lots of comments, proof of your worthwhile writing/choosing topics. (And some of those topics are sure surprising) Hurray! As a guru said, “If you’re interested in your topic, then your readers will be too.”

  33. Your description reminds me of my favorite German restaurant in Springfield, Mass. If you get a chance (assuming the restaurant survives the pandemic, which I REALLY hope it does) visit the Student Prince on Fort Street. If you’re lucky enough to go there during game month (February) get the wild boar hash. It melted in my mouth like an excellent pot roast. That and one of their pretzels the size of a dinner plate was a very filling brunch.

  34. At a roadside restaurant in Germany’s Harz mountains, I once had a “windbeutal” cream puff that was basically the size of my head. I may now have to plan for a long weekend in Columbus, OH.

  35. I lived in Columbus 20 something years ago. My girlfriend at the time was from Dresden, so we ate at Schmidt’s whenever we had the cash. It was always worth it!

  36. German here: That actually sounds delicious. Sauerbraten and Spätzle is fantastic! German food in the States can be pretty much a hit or miss, but juding from your description it does sound like the real deal. Had to laugh at a few things on their menu. “pretzel buns” are a real thing, although calling them that sounds funny. I *have* used them for burgers before too, but I’d probably put sausage slices and cheese on there.
    Their selection seems interesting (not in a bad way though). I was surprised to see a few things missing (namely, one or two variants of Wurstsalat, Weisswurst, and a cold plate of different sliced sausages), but you can’t have everything.

    Cream puffs/Windbeutel are pretty awesome, and as @Jessica Weissman already mentioned the German in the chocolate has little to do with the country, but you wouldn’t hear me say no to some either

  37. Steve L – was just thinking of the Student Prince, and the Munich Haus in Chicopee. Glad to know I’m not the only ‘no, I’m not from Boston’-ite here ;-)

  38. They’ve had a sausage truck in Worthington a couple of times; my daughters and I bought from it and it was good but I didn’t appreciate it enough to get it again. My work had a holiday lunch at Hofbrauhaus and I liked that a lot.

  39. oversixty… – there was a terrific (very cheap) German restaurant in London that we ate at in 1972 – also named Schmidt’s by coincidence. My wife and I each had a bowl of soup, wiener schnitzel with potatoes, spatzel, string beans and spinach, dessert and coffee (I always took careful notes) for the grand total of … $3.80!! Granted it was 1972, but the pound was at $2.60.

    We went to German village with friends on a visit to Columbus in the early ’80s, but only went to one of the great bakeries. That dinner sounds fabulous. Nice report.

  40. I’m glad you had fun and a good meal! And that you now know German chocolate cake has nothing to do with the country. :-)

    My wife and I did a river cruise from Prague to Berlin for our anniversary a few years ago, flying in and out of Berlin, riding a train down to Prague to meet up with the tour. While we were in Berlin, we were really wanting to eat German food, and we couldn’t find it! We found Italian, Japanese, Hungarian, steak houses, all sorts of stuff – no German. At the end of the cruise we did find a Heineken Beer Garden which had all sorts of brats and stuff. Turns out that Germans eat German food at home, when they go out to eat they want to eat everything but.

    I’m sure if I’d done better research before the trip that we might have found better, otherwise my pre-trip research was quite good.

    Normally cruise tours like this you fly in to the origin city and out of the destination city, but I wanted to see more of Berlin than Prague, so we flew in and out of Berlin and spent about a week there. Had a fantastic time! Never used a taxi, went everywhere on foot and the U-Bahn. Highly recommended!

  41. Re the German chocolate cake, i still remember the look on a visiting German technician’s face when our group presented him with one for his birthday. He’d never seen anything like it, but admitted that it was good. Just not actually German. Except of course in the immigrant kind of way, as noted above. A cooking show I like, old now, A Taste of History with Chef Walter Staib, is infiltrated with his native German cooking off and on. He loves spaetzle and made it on several shows; he cooks in cast iron on 18th century open hearths, mostly.

  42. Both my grandfathers were of Germanic descent, Paternal was born to Swiss (actually Switzerdeutsche… some Swiss are Italian speakers, some French, and some more obscure dialects) immigrants on a dairy farm in NW Ohio, Maternal grandfather was Pennsy Dutch, so his family had been here longer. Both grandmothers were southern ladies who learned some German style cooking from their sisters-in-law for the sake of their husbands.

    So I’ve had German home cooking, and can do decent things with sauerkraut and sausages. Sauerkraut with short ribs, or baby back ribs. Or even with left over BBW baby back ribs, which is kind of a southern/German pastiche meal.

    Real German chocolate cake is Black Forest Cake, which is really dark chocolate with sour cherries and whipped cream layers as well as the chocolate mousse style icing. It’s hard to get sour cherries and kirschwasser, which is necessary for a successful Black Forest Cake. My second favorite cake, first is Sicilian yellow cake with bits of dried fruit, with sweet cheese and bitter chocolate icing. Both take a lot of effort to do right! OK, on second thought, they both tie for first favorite, both are great!

    Have been to German Town in Columbus, ate good German food, no longer sure if it was this place, but surely similar. Love eating good food! Thanks for the great description of the place and the food!

  43. Just for the record: German chocolate cake is American, not German.

    It was originally made with German’s chocolate, which was made by Samuel German in Massachusetts.

  44. When I was stationed in West Germany, in the Black Forest area, everyone made it a point to have Black Forest cake, which the Germans called schwartzvald, the German terms, as Athena may know, for black and forest.

    The forest was called “black” because it was thick, unknown, a place of terrifying fairy tales.

  45. 2nding Stephan L’s recommendation for the Student Fort and Prince, in Springfield Massachusetts. It is close to the basket ball hall of fame.
    The Student Fort and Prince will run special dinner feasts, the month of February is wild game month. Rabbit, elk, bear, rain deer, and white tail deer.

  46. Checking out the menu of places like Schmidt’s is always a bit disappointing, when you hail from Germanys north. Not to say the food from Germanys south isn’t great, quite the contrary. Reducing foreign cultures and cuisines to their most prominent features is also commonplace and not worth complaining about.

    Anyway, great to see you had good time and liked “our” food.

    @Jay Brandt Your last name is pretty common around where I live (Lower Saxony). :-)