When the Craft House first opened a couple years ago on Frankfort Avenue, co-owner Pat Hagan noted to me that the long-term plan was for it to become known unofficially as the “Crescent Hill Craft House.”
Of course, he knew more Craft Houses were in the offing, assuming the first one floated. It did, thanks to its goal of keeping the beer and much of the food local and regional, and this summer the Germantown Craft House opened in a renovated space at 1030 Goss Ave. to continue the mission. And while the A-shaped structure with road-facing deck and a front dining room set in an atrium looks vastly different than the original, the vibe and the menu remain closely tied to the base concept.
The Germantown version of the Craft House was about half full during a recent weekday visit for dinner, yet it felt bustling nonetheless. The décor in the new one is a bit more modern, and perhaps a bit brighter, with light wood finish and light gray walls.
Like in Crescent Hill, the list of all local and regional beers is projected onto one wall in the bar area, which is larger than that of its counterpart.
The menu is also quite similar, but with a few new wrinkles at the new location. The Germantown version pays homage to the neighborhood, adding sauerkraut sausage fritters to the starters (“Before”) menu, along with beer-battered cheese curds and buffalo cauliflower.
In the sandwiches (“Things Between Bread”) menu, the new location adds a Beef on Weck, featuring shaved roast beef, gravy and cheese curds. And on the dinner (“Plate”) menu, the new Craft House’s featured item is a version of the classic German dish pork schnitzel. This one is a breaded Marksbury Farms pork chop with a house-made lager kraut and smashed russet potatoes.
I couldn’t resist because, hey, when in Germantown, right? Although to further fuel the mission, I also opted out of the smashed russets and replaced them with another new side, Schnitzelburg potato salad. My girlfriend Cynthia, meanwhile, opted for the Carolina Swine sandwich, featuring pulled pork, red onion, pickles and tomato on Texas toast.
We settled in, I ordered a West Sixth Half Bite IPA from the beer menu, and our food arrived in record time. It was almost as if they’d anticipated our arrival and begun preparing it as we were being seated. Cynthia’s sandwich was huge, and the pork chop our server set in front of me was eye-popping.
Topped with pork jus, it looked a bit as if my mother’s Shake ’n’ Bake pork chops from the 1970s had an overlord. “Chopzilla” is what I called it.
The fresh, juicy chop was roughly 2 inches thick and had a layer of fat around the edges that only added to the deliciousness. The thick, crisp breading was tasty in its own right. And while I’m generally a light eater, I managed to finish every bite.
The potato salad was made with sliced fingerling potatoes and a creamy base with chunks of celery. I thought I detected a bit of dill. Tasty, but not at all what I expected. The bright pink kraut was a nice addition for a flavor and texture change of pace, as well as adding to the presentation.
Cynthia inhaled her sandwich as well. I managed to get a small bite of the house-smoked pork, which was tender and full of flavor. The barbecue sauce that came on the sandwich was mildly tangy, but seemed to stay out of the way of the pork.
I think she enjoyed her side of Craft House tots as much as the sandwich — these house-made beauties were not what you normally think of from traditional tater tots. They’re about twice the size with thick batter similar to a hush puppy, with light and fluffy, almost whipped, potato inside — highly recommended.
The only minor glitch was a problem with our bill, which was quickly rectified once we pointed it out. All in all, the atmosphere, service and food were all excellent and on par with the standard the original Craft House set of Southern-inspired fare with a nod toward local and fresh ingredients.
There’s also an impressive bourbon list in addition to the 40 draft lines. And this place will be absolutely perfect for late summer and fall al fresco dining.
Germantown Craft House is open Monday through Thursday 4 p.m.-midnight; Friday 11 a.m.-1 a.m.; Saturday 8 a.m.-1 a.m.; and Sunday 8 a.m.-midnight, with brunch being served on the weekends.