Short Order: Singing Valter's praises

Staff Writer
Columbus Monthly

Valter's at the Maennerchor proudly celebrates German fare.

The Columbus Maennerchor,a German singing society founded in 1848, opened a new chapter when it moved out of its original building and into the German Heritage House on South High Street.

Lucky for us, the choir recently hooked up with Valter Veliu, part-owner of Jimmy V's up the street, who offered to lease the Heritage House for a restaurant serving, of course, mostly German food. Veliu installed a modern kitchen, and it opened in January of this year. It seems to have taken off, which is not surprising: Veliu is as nice as can be, and his menu and cooking show talent and a love of German food. I love German food, too-when well made-and the stuff here is well made.

Valter's delicious stout bratwurst is flavored with dark beer and mildly spiced to bring out the porky goodness; it would make a Munich beer hall proud. Served with a mild, house-made mustard, the beer-flavored sausage comes as a sandwich on a pretzel bun with sauerkraut, peppers and onions ($8) or as part of the Rhein Trio appetizer ($12) alongside a crisp-skinned red Polish sausage and a veal-based weisswurst, or "white sausage." Wursts are from Falter's, the Columbus meatpacker that knows a thing or two about German wursts after 126 years in the business.

Beer cheese soup ($5 cup, $8 bowl) has always struck me as cheating: cheap and simple to make, it's hard to stop eating the stuff. Cheating or not, Valter's makes a great beer cheese soup. It is deeply cheesy without being overly so, tastes of good beer and is loaded with shredded pork. Servings are substantial and the soup is garnished with half a grilled bratwurst. I think I'm in love.

A heavy but delicious dish is schweinshaxe, or pork shank, which has been slow-roasted to fall-off-the-bone tenderness ($19). The meaty, slightly gelatinous (that's a good thing) pork knuckle comes with an excellent German potato salad and sauerkraut. Of course wienerschnitzel ($18) is here, a cutlet of veal pounded thin, breaded, fried and served with spätzle. I do like the dish, but the cutlet was rather dry.

The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner every day, with food served until midnight. Breakfast and brunch are offered on Saturdays and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. (breakfast items $8-$11).

Valter's offers a selection of German and Austrian wines, plus beer and liquor. Naturally, beer goes well with this food; there are several good German beers (and American ones) on draft. Be warned: A small beer is around 16 ounces and the large is a full liter (33.814 ounces, as everyone knows).

All this goodness can be had outdoors in pleasant weather, on the front porch or in the beer garden that hugs the side of the historic building. Prost!

Valter's at the Maennerchor

976 S. High St., Brewery District