A FRESH JOURNEY INTO TRADITIONAL GERMAN CUISINE
by Jim G. Miller
Spencer’s Corner has housed a unique and diverse mesh of art, music, and fine dining for a remarkable number of years within its three-story façade. In the dark and cozy basement of its foundations, there is now Arkansas’ newest fine German eatery and Biergarten where drink, raucous Saturday night polka music, and much fun can be had especially during cool summer nights on the outdoor patio.
A staple among downtown bars thanks in part to the smiling face of Bret Ellis who has been slinging premium German beer for many years, it is a local favorite. Ellis is your classic jovial bartender who is most often seen dawning a flashy Hawaiian shirt equipped with an arsenal of jokes. He has a broad and unique knowledge of classic film, history, and of course German beer. Always quick to start a conversation with a perfect stranger Ellis was put on this earth to bartend and to generally make people happy.
Previously known as the Brau Haus, the restaurant and bar closed its doors a couple of months back and has been newly renovated and restored by the hard work of Executive Chef David McGuire and owner operator Amanda Mitchell. “We really had a difficult time letting go of the space especially as it had become a rooted place for locals and tourists to stop off and get a taste of something that’s not common in most other small towns in Arkansas,” says Mitchell.
It was a tearful goodbye for many who had shared deep and heartfelt memories at the old Brau Haus. “I couldn’t really imagine bartending anywhere else in town,” says Ellis who has a passion and love for the weekend regulars and periodic return visitors. People who visit once usually come back, and with a menu featuring fresh German style culinary dishes, there will be more and more reason for people to return.
“We’re all like a family, we have worked together so long,” says Mitchell. Each morning before the restaurant opens, you can find seasoned German cook Norbert Sporca in the kitchen chopping up red cabbage or potatoes to stew for a fresh pot of goulash.
They are open Tuesday through Sunday. Check out their Stein Hour from 3 to 7 pm on Tuesday through Thursday featuring $1.50 well drinks and 50 cents off draft beer if you bring your own stein. The restaurant also features many trademark German appetizers and main course dishes. The cabbage rolls would definitely be on the top of the list of recommended appetizers, and of course you must always try the schnitzel. Mitchell and McGuire both plan on continuing to incorporate newness into an old tradition. Offering a variety of German sausages with more exciting new beers and other extravagant culinary dishes to come in the future, Steinhaus Keller should definitely be mapped out on your list of exciting new places to eat and drink when you are in downtown Hot Springs.