The Lubecker’s Wiener Schnitzel on Schnitzel Sunday at the Dunlap Café in Over-the-Rhine.
Only a few restaurants remain that serve schnitzel in Greater Cincinnati. Mecklenburg Gardens, the Hofbrauhaus, Bauer’s Farm Kitchen, Lazlo’s Iron Skillet, and the Lubecker, now at the Dunlap Café, are some of the few that exist. The Lubecker even hosts a Schnitzel Sunday. I am a huge fan of schnitzel and its American cousins, the country fried steak and the Kentucky hot brown.
I create my own version of schnitzel at the Lubecker – I ask them to smother it with their delicious hot housemade currygewurst sauce. I like to call it Schnitzel Berliner.
Schnitzel can be pork, chicken or veal. And it must be pounded super thin and have a crispy outer crust and a tender inside. There are probably hundreds of ways to serve it with a sauce and toppings in the Germanic diaspora. Cincinnati’s historical Germanic restaurants showcased these many different schnitzels in the heyday of German cuisine.
Apparently Clifton was Cincinnati’s schnitzel capital. Mecklenburg’s, Alpha, Lenhardt’s and others served up the dish. Lenhardt’s was king of schnitzel, offering about 12 different types of schnitzel. I have found documentation of 8 of them. They served the standard Wiener Schnitzel, which is served with no sauce, a lemon wedge and fresh parsley. Sailor Schnitzel was served with a thin slice of ham, cheese and light white wine butter sauce; Paprika schnitzel was sort of like chicken paprikash. A similar Hungarian Schnitzel was served with non-crème tomato sauce with red peppers and mushrooms. Italian schnitzel was sort of like chicken parmesan with a garlicy tomato sauce. Kaiser Schnitzel had a lemon cream caper sauce with topped with an over easy egg. Rahm Schnitzel was a heavy cream black pepper, white wine sauce with bacon and onion. Schnitzel Holstein was smothered in anchovies and a fried egg. Zigeunerschitzel (Gypsy Schnitzel) served in a tomato sauce with peppers and mushrooms. Finally – Jaeger Schnitzel or hunter’s schnitzel was topped in a burgundy cream sauce with mushrooms, onions and green pepper.
The Alpha Restaurant on West McMillen served up Schnitzel Alsace, which was topped with a sauce of sautéed onions, crème fraiche, and bacon – yum! The Burgess coffeehouse in Mt. Adams, which specialized in German fare, served Schnitzel Ferdinand, a homage to the Hotel Ferdinand in Vienna, topped in Hollandaise sauce, anchovy and steamed asparagus.
The Riverview rotating restaurant in Covington at the top of the Riverview Hotel used to serve schnitzel Luchow, which paid homage to the way the long-lived German restaurant, Luchows in New York City served it. Luchow’s was founded by Hanover immigrant August Luchow in 1883 and lasted a full century, making it one of the longest surviving German restaurants. It was all about their breading – the recipe can still be found online. The breading included parmesan cheese, nutmeg, salt & pepper and is topped with fresh parsley.
Today Mecklenburg Gardens is now King of the Schnitzel, serving up three versions. They have a vegetarian version made with eggplant, a standard Wiener Schnitzel, and one with Dunkelweissen sauce – made with you guessed it – Dunkelweissen beer, white wine, lemon juice, capers and chicken stock.
The Hofbrauhaus offers Bauern Schnitzel or Farmer Schnitzel topped with Black Forest ham, swiss cheese and their beer cheese. They also offer a Bavarian schnitzel in a burgundy wine and mushroom sauce topped with what they call frizzled onions – sort of like onion straws and bacon bits.
I think a Schnitzel restaurant with a Chipotle concept could work well in Cincinnati – especially Over-the-Rhine. You choose your protein – pork, chicken or eggplant. Then you choose a sauce – cream, tomato, hollandaise, paprikash, lemon caper, etc. Finally you choose a topping – bacon bits, anchovy, onion straws, or fried egg.
The door could be opened to a lot of schnitzel fusion with chef creativity. The breading could be played with a bit – perhaps a Nashville Hot schnitzel. My adders to the Schnitzel-verse would be Schnitzel New Orleans topped with shrimp etouffee and Schnitzel Hawaii topped with swiss cheese, pineapple and marashino cherry – sort of like Toast Hawaii in Germany. But there could also be Schnitzel Kentucky made like a hot brown or with pimento cheese or Louisville Benedictine spread, like a creamy green goddess dressing. Heck, there could also be Schnitzel Macedonia topped in Cincinnati Chili and shredded neon cheddar cheese!