If you work or play in and around San Francisco’s Financial District, you’ve been missing Schroeder’s since it closed several months ago for an exciting renovation. If you don’t live or work in the City by the Bay, put Schroeder’s on your must-do list for that next visit to San Francisco. It’s the city’s own German restaurant legend since 1893, it’s back, and it’s better than ever.
New owners Jan Wiginton and Andy Chun of Press Club San Francisco say the objective was to preserve Schroeder’s heritage while updating it authentically for the 21st century. A better fit could not have been found, as Wiginton explains, “Given that we’ve been patrons of Schroeder’s for 15-plus years, we feel it was paramount to keep the existing character in place.” This included converting the back half into a German-Californian inspired restaurant and private dining venue. The front half remains a beer hall with new communal tables, new hardwood floors, new light fixtures and a new facade with more windows. The result is terrifically cozy and stylishly sleek at once.
Big and beautiful
Perhaps more of your college days were spent in a campus Ratskeller than in the library? Still, chances are you’ve not seen a beer hall more welcoming than this one, nor larger, outside of Bavaria. The 5,000-square-foot hall has the original rosewood bar, a museum-like display of unusual steins and a collection of gorgeous 1932 Hermann Richter murals depicting German drinking scenes up on the cathedral height ceilings complete with the requisite taxidermy. But once you’ve been bowled over by the big, beautiful space, you’ll want to be knowing more about the beer and the food.
Chef Manfred Wrembel, formerly of Incanto and Plum, draws upon his own German family
favorites using such traditional flavors such as rye, dill and caraway. In-house pickling and fermenting of colorful and tasty vegetables make for crunchy nibbles, and the pork cracklin is positively addictive. Wrembel admits that his mother, Ziggy, has such a good recipe for salad dressing that a young Manfred claims to have snuck it from the refrigerator to drink it straight from the Mason jar at home. You’ll see why when you taste Wrembel’s homemade vinaigrette on the baby gem lettuce in a seasonal market salad. Wiener Schnitzel and sausages, bratwurst and blutwurst, potato pancakes and spatzle, boiled beef tongue and pickled eggs spark conversation shared at communal tables in a jolly atmosphere where the beer flows. It’s what the Germans endearingly call ” Gemütlichkeit.”
Beverage Director Mauro Cirilli (also of San Francisco’s acclaimed Press Club) introduces a new wine program tied heavily to Austrian and German varietals. Working with Claire Jane Hunter (hailing from Rye and Future) on hand-crafted cocktails and with Master Cicerone Rich Higgins (one of only seven people to hold that distinction), the team offer 22 international tap and final bottled German selections. Regulars can rent a locker to stash their favorite stein until the next visit.
Opening day was right on time on May 5, 2014. General Manager Scott Carr (previously of Boulevard and Hardier) indicated that plans called for continuing the traditional fun of stein-holding contests, polka bands and shoot-the-boots challenges, plus special happenings around Oktoberfest, St. Patrick’s Day and Christmas. So don’t put away your lederhosen and Tyrolean hat, as you’ve got a place to wear them.
240 Front Street
San Francisco, California 94111
Hours are Monday to Friday, 11:30 a.m. – 10 p.m.; Saturday, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.