NEW ULM - How about trying something new like a dish called "Frikadellen?"
You might ask, "What is Frikadellen?"
Well, it is a dish of pork and beef meatballs studded with onion and stuffed with a cheese and garlic blend and served with spaetzle, green onion and bacon.
Staff photo by Steve Muscatello
Otto’s head chef Matt Anderson shows a plate of Schwinehaye or roast pork hock (left) and a platter of sausages, sauerkraut and soft pretzels. Otto’s makes four types of sausages in house as well as soft pretzels.
These buttons are being sold for $2 each. If someone comes in to Otto's wearing a “Ja” button, they will get a special for the day.
It's just one of the new things that can be found on the new German-style menu being featured at Otto's Restaurant of the Holiday Inn, New Ulm.
The new German-style menu was officially launched on Dec. 19. So far, the response has been pretty positive, said Matthias Leyrer, who is in charge of marketing at Otto's Restaurant.
"We're setting out on a re-branding campaign of Otto's Restaurant, and we're pushing for real, German food," said Leyrer, "We're trying to bring more of the people of New Ulm back to Otto's because we miss them."
Leyrer said they would also like to draw people in to Otto's from the surrounding towns like Sleepy Eye, Morgan, Mankato and many other areas.
"We want them to come from all over. We're a full-service German restaurant, and we've got the best German food in southern Minnesota," said Leyrer, "It's important that we deliver excellence in everything we do."
Otto's Executive Chef Matthew "Matt" Anderson said they have been taking some of the German "classics" and putting their own "personal spin" on them.
Their aim is to keep the meals at an "affordable" price for people- like around or even under the $15 (made) from scratch here," said Anderson, "We're going as much as we can with local products like we're using local pork and as much local beef as we can."
Anderson said they are on a Hereford beef program.
The folks at Otto's are also trying to use as much local chicken as they can in menu items.
All of their side dishes are as "fresh" as they can be made, Anderson said.
"We're trying to move away from anything out of a can or a freezer bag," said Anderson.
Otto's Wienerschnitzel is a 6- to 7-ounce Hereford beef cutlet pounded thin and served with a lemon wedge and capers.
"This is what you'd get in Vienna," said Anderson, "Another really fun one is called the Alpenhaus Salat. When I was doing my research hot bologna salads are really popular in Germany."
Anderson said this salad "turns out to be a really fun and unique salad."
A pan fried fish dish called "Gebackener Kabeljau" is also becoming a popular dish at Otto's Restaurant.
Their staff also makes its own classic in-house dark rye German breads.
When Anderson was preparing the new Otto's menu he did quite of bit of research into what people are eating now in Germany.
One specific thing Anderson did was to scale back the size of the German entree dishes for the modern palate which is only so many calories.
Anderson has attended to culinary school. He has worked in the culinary industry for 15 years serving in such places as Olives and Neighbors (in Mankato) and the St. Paul Hotel.
"Obviously, sausages are huge in Germany," said Anderson, "And there are literally hundreds of different types of sausages."
Otto's "Mettwurst" is made of minced beef and pork. The "Knackwurst" are two small plump sausages flavored with garlic and pan-seared.
Another more modernized German dish is the "Hasenpfeffer" - which is rabbit that is braised in spices in red wine and fruit.
In addition to looking at German fare, Anderson also looked to American-German menus to see what other American restaurants are now serving to their customers.
"People who haven't been here (to Otto's) for a while should come and check it out again," said Anderson.
One other "new thing" being featured at Otto's Restaurant is the "Ja" Real German Food" button. These buttons are being sold for $2 each. If someone comes in wearing a "Ja" button, they will get a special for the day. The special could be anything like 25 percent off a meal or maybe it could be a free beer.
"We definitely partner ourselves with Schell's (beer) as much as we possibly can," said Anderson.
"We try to carry all of their (Schell's) beers," said Leyrer, "We think that the German heritage of New Ulm is very important, and we're trying to reflect that in our menu."
Not only is Otto's partnering with the local brewery Schell's, but also with the local Heart of New Ulm. Otto's has achieved the gold level with the Heart of New Ulm.
Anderson created a dish of steamed cod dish geared as a specific Heart of New Ulm-inspired dish.
The staff at Otto's also tries to accommodate any special dietary needs people may have (lactose intolerant, low sodium and vegetarian), Anderson said.
Not only is German food featured at Otto's, but there is also a place on the menu for American food as well.
"We still promote build your own burger," said Anderson, "And a couple of very nice sandwiches."
They have also brought back the Friday Fish Fry an "all-you-can-eat" fish special during Lent.
"Meatloaf on Mondays" has also been pretty popular, Anderson said.
"It's kind of a German-flavored meatloaf," said Anderson.
Saturday usually features some kind of "schnitzel special."
Back by popular demand is prime rib for the Sunday brunch menu.
"I know the people of New Ulm were really missing it, so we brought it back," said Leyrer.
Every special for the week is listed on Otto's Facebook page "Ottos New Ulm."
"We'll have Twitter soon," said Leyrer.
Gnome races have also been brought back to Otto's on Friday nights.
"It's just something fun to do while you've been having a beer and a meal," said Leyrer.