Many centuries ago, according to German mythology, a hero named Siegfried from the Rhineland region slayed a fearsome dragon and, to celebrate, bathed in its blood. Personally, I would have recommended he slather himself in Alte Senfmühle Terhorst Senf, a mustard made in Erkelenz, the Rhineland city that’s the hometown of René and Kim Zimmermann, the husband and wife who opened Siegfried’s Restaurant in Gillespie Park last July.
Served in a small blue bottle that looks like a jar of kids’ paint, the Erkelenz mustard is creamy but filled with seeds, and delivers a zing to any food it touches. Split a giant pretzel ($12.90) with a loved one in the restaurant’s picturesque beer garden, and you’ll likely finish the jar. The mustard is a perfect pairing for the warm, freshly made pretzel, which is served hanging on a hook and is about as big as a hubcap. Pricey for a pretzel? Sure, but it’s delicious.
Mustard is a common theme throughout the Siegfried’s menu, which runs through a host of classic Rhineland dishes like potato pancakes ($12.90), bratwurst ($14.90), sauerbraten ($21.90) and more.
Start with the Rheinische Brotzeit, a sampler platter served on a wide wooden paddle that costs $8.50 for one or $15.90 to share. The smorgasbord includes multiple types of sausage, liverwurst, ham, two cheeses, pickles, cucumber and potato salads, radishes and more mustard. The cheeses are a bit bland, but the sausages are ultra-smoky and delectable, and the liverwurst is pungent and addictive.
Of the entrées, the Düsseldorfer Sentfrostbraten ($24.90) is a showstopper—a thick steak delivered with a crust of cheese and German mustard and a tangled nest of fried onions on top. The steak, requested medium rare, comes with a nicely charred exterior and plenty of pink inside. The spice of the mustard and the crunchy texture of the onions make for ideal complements.
Less complex, but equally delicious, is the wiener schnitzel ($23.90). To make it, the kitchen pounds two generous hunks of veal into wide, thin sheets, then fries them to a crisp. Spritzed with the juice of a lemon, the meat tastes fantastic—tender and toothsome—and the exterior is as crunchy as that of great fried chicken.
Of course, what’s a German meal without beer? Siegfried’s features a select pick of drafts, bottles and cans. Most of the pours hail from the Rhineland, but the restaurant also has begun collaborating with local beer makers. Lakewood Ranch’s Naughty Monk Brewery has crafted an exceptional altbier for the restaurant. Dark in complexion, the beer is nevertheless light and crisp, a bit nutty and a bit sweet. You can order drafts in sizes ranging from a 12-ounce glass to “das boot,” a giant glass shaped to look like, yes, a boot. The beer options also include pilsners, wheat beers and dunkels—malty concoctions that go great with the restaurant’s meat.
Siegfried’s is located in a small cottage that has been home to a number of restaurants in the past few years. (You probably know it best from when it was The Tea House.) Eating inside is like dining in a friend’s living room—warm and lively. But if the weather’s pleasant, I recommend sitting out back, in the restaurant’s intimate beer garden. Picnic tables are arranged beneath strings of lights, and a trailer rests on the back edge of the property. There’s a kitchen inside the cottage, but most of the food is prepared in the kitchen inside that trailer. Sitting out back, clinking glasses with a friend underneath a purple sky, it’s easy to feel as exuberant as Siegfried must have after he killed that dragon. But skip the blood, and ask for extra mustard instead.