I've been to Geier's Sausage Kitchen a bunch of times. How have I never noticed the small grill in the back right corner? According to the woman manning the counter, it's been here for roughly 25 years. So much for my powers of observation.
There's not much to the grill, really, just a handful of warming trays laden with freshly cooked German foods next to a stack of Styrofoam boxes and a soda machine. The tiny eatery operates during lunchtime, 11 a.m.-3 p.m., Monday through Friday, serving a crew of lunch breakers that includes a significant number of employees at nearby car dealerships. The shop also sets up an outdoor grill on Saturdays, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., offering grilled parking lot meats to the masses.
There's a small line when my friend, Justin, and I arrive on Wednesday. As we wait, I marvel at the signature sights and sounds of Geier's, a European-focused butcher shop with an endless selection of meats—fresh, cured, smoked and packaged. Looking for blood sausage? Veal sweetbreads? Kidneys? Tongue? Smoked pig ears? You'll find it all here, plus a bunch of stuff you've probably never heard of.
The shelves that crowd the small South Trail shop carry every other kind of canned or pickled or preserved item you can think of, not to mention candies, chocolates, spices, vinegars, sauces, spreads and preserves. And don't miss the wines, which include rarer finds like Tokaji—a sweet Hungarian quaff.
The Geier's grill menu takes up a couple whiteboards hung in the corner. The selection includes American basics like hamburgers and BLTs, but we're at Geier's, which welcomes diners with a hearty "Willkommen!" Justin and I will stick to the German food, thanks. The selection today includes braturst and knockwurst ($3.99 or $5.99 with two sides) and a pork schnitzel ($6.99 with two sides). Sides are more creative than your typical fries, with steamed Brussels sprouts and other vegetables, plus two kinds of boiled potatoes.
Geier's doesn't have any tables indoors, so if you're hoping to eat here, you need to be able to withstand the heat. Three tables sit out in front of Geier's cream and brown building, facing the traffic flowing up 41. Justin ordered the knockwurst, which comes either on a bun or on a bed of soft sauerkraut. Forget the bun and go for the kraut. It's less fermented than I normally like, but still sweet and tender. The sausage itself is immaculate, a thick round that's been sliced in a few spots and cooked to a light reddish-brown. The flavor is balanced and well-seasoned, with no real heat to speak of. Perfect for a warm afternoon next to the pool or at your next basketball-watching shindig.
The sprouts on the side are soft, a little bland, but given the sausage's excellence I'm happy to have more subdued items next door. Justin selected chunked potatoes tossed with butter and parsley. The 'toes are soft and crumbly, albeit a little too buttery.
Hold up. Did I just complain about an item being too buttery? What's wrong with me? In truth, I prefer Geier's other potato preparation, which mixes thick slices of potatoes with vinegar and herbs. It's a lovely, balanced blend and a brilliant, sharp counterpoint to my lunch: that schnitzel.
My main item is enormous, a thin spread of pig meat roughly the size of Pangaea. Crispiness coats all that flesh. Mine, in fact, is a little over-fried. The breading has gone a little black around the edges, imparting a note of burn, but I'd say 90 percent of the surface area here is in impeccable condition. The meat might be a little on the dry side, but barely. A dotting of spicy mustard improves every bite.
Crazy gut. Like everything else at the small Geier's grill. I just needed to look a little more closely.
Geier's Sausage Kitchen is located at 7447 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. It serves fresh food inside from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday-Friday and outside from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. For more info, call (941) 923-3004 or visit geiers-sausage.com.