Published by The Oregonian
Back in 2008, when Dan Hart was hunting for the perfect location for his German beer bar, Prost, he fell hard for an old brick building on Northeast 28th Avenue’s bustling restaurant row.
But the space was already spoken for, first by a short-lived breakfast spot, Cafe 401, and then by a restaurant with Alpine aspirations of its own, Spints Alehouse.
“I was just so jealous,” Hart said. “A brick building, a corner location, an old-world feel. I just thought, ‘that’s exactly what I’m looking for.'”
Now, half a decade later, Hart has a second chance at his missed connection.
Earlier this week, the towering tavern keeper signed a lease to take over the Spints space, 401 N.E. 28th Ave. Come this fall, Hart plans to transform the brick building into Stammtisch, a sister bar to Prost with more (and rarer) imported German beer, more tasty schnapps and a fuller menu of classic German bierstube dishes.
First, let’s talk beer. Stammtisch, German for “regular’s table,” should have somewhere between 15-18 taps (compared to Prost’s 11), freeing Hart up to pour more regional German specialties and rarities.
Expect to see one tap devoted to kölsch, the refreshing beer from Cologne, as well as rotating kegs of German alt, gose and Berliner Weisse (and yes, before you ask, Hart plans to stock woodruff and raspberry syrups).
Hart says he’s particularly excited about tapping kegs from Kloster Andechs, a small, scenic monastery and brewery southwest of Munich that makes “really phenomenal beer,” including a standout Helles lager.
“We want beer afficionados to be able to come in and appreciate some regional specialty beers that they might have had in the bottle but have never had on draft,” Hart said.
Of course, Hart eventually found a home for Prost, taking over a beautifully restored building at the top of North Mississippi Avenue’s commercial strip in late 2009. Two years later, he opened Interurban, an American tavern just down the street from Prost.
“It ended up being a best-case scenario,” he said, “with the beer garden, the food carts and Mississippi Avenue. You could search for 10 years and not find a spot like that again.”
But though the bar proved a hit — Hart has been on the lookout for a second location since 2010 — the space has its drawbacks. The kitchen is practically nonexistent, so Prost’s menu consists mostly of pretzels and sausages. To fill out the menu, the bar developed a symbiotic relationship with the Mississippi Marketplace food carts that wrap around its beer garden, allowing customers to bring in barbecue from Meet, ramen from Minizo or fried chicken from Miss Kate’s Southern Kitchen.
At Stammtisch, “we want to offer the kind of traditional German fare, predominantly Bavarian, that you might find at a local bierstube,” Hart said.
That means a lineup of some of the most-requested meals at Prost, including Wiener Schnitzel, Jaeger Schnitzel, roasted pork and chicken: meat-centric, appetite quenching dishes you might see on a visit Munich during Octoberfest.
Hart also hopes to work with the OLCC to bring in some high-quality German schnapps.
“When people think of schnapps they think of Apple Pucker, thinks like that,” Hart said. “We want to bring in the real stuff.”
There’s no beer garden at Stammtisch, but Hart thinks he can fit as many as 40-50 seats along the wide sidewalk on Northeast Flanders Street. He’s still planning what to do inside: The bar’s back room could become a cozy Jager Stube, or hunter’s den, or he could knock down a wall, turning the space into one large room.
No matter how the redesign shakes out, look for Stammtisch to start pouring beer as soon as November.
— Michael Russell