Best of the Wurst

The Radler takes German food to a new level

We thought we knew German food: wurst, schnitzel and sauerkraut–that's pretty much it, right?

We were way, way wrong. Logan Square's The Radler, a modern Bavarian beer hall, is taking classic German dishes and bringing them to the 21st century.

This isn't your vater's German restaurant: The Radler's décor looks like a team of graffiti artists broke into a stately country mansion. "Welcome to the Jungle" is hand-painted on a plywood sheet in front of the host stand and giant cuckoo clocks hang over the bar. You might think you're inside a surrealist painting, not a beer hall.

But a beer hall it is, so order one from the massive list. We enjoyed a light beer mixed with lemon soda, The Radler's eponymous drink.

Start dinner with that Bavarian snack, a giant butter-basted pretzel served with barley-malt butter and blackberry jam ($6). As you dip, you may consider whether you can sneak barley-malt butter into a baseball game, because we doubt you'll ever want another pretzel without it.

Move on to a charcuterie plate that defies expectations; no wimpy piles of shaved meat here; these are ½-inch thick slices of country pâté served on shockingly strong rye bread and accompanied by pickled eggs ($12).

A Brussels sprouts slaw was the star of our favorite dish, a flaky onion pie drizzled with bacon vinaigrette and pilsner soubise ($11). It's like someone took the best onion soup you ever ate and solidified it.

The Radler's cold cut plate

And if you simply can't do German food without brats, finish up with one of four "haus made" wursts. Our favorite was the boarwurst ($9), served with beet purée and cocoa nib relish.