Review by Scott Cherry Photos by Tom Gilbert
Fassler Hall’s relationship with Prairie Creek Farms to supply its pork didn’t happen overnight, even after the deal was made.
Trevor Tack, corporate executive chef for the McNellie’s Group, of which Fassler Hall is a part, and Brian Fontaine, the first Fassler Hall manager and now vice president with McNellie’s Group, visited the 80-acre farm near Kellyville last summer.
“We talked to the owners, and I left it to Brian and them to figure out how to make it work,” Tack said. “I knew it was going to be a big deal for us.”
Fontaine said he was eager to get things started.
“I asked them how quickly we could get going, and they said five months,” Fontaine said. “Five months? They said, ‘Well, we have to grow the pigs.’ ”
The way it works is Fassler Hall buys the purebred Berkshire piglets, and Prairie Creek Farms raises them. Like the farm’s cows and chickens, the pigs are pasture-raised.
In addition to whatever they can root out in the pasture, the pigs are given non-GMO feed custom milled in Oklahoma and never are given “shots, chemical wormers, antibiotics, steroids or anything else made in a lab.”
The offshoot of all of this is it reminded us that it has been quite some time since we last took a full look at Fassler Hall, the 21-and-older, German-style beer hall on Elgin Avenue between Third and Fourth streets.
It’s difficult to say when the best time is to visit Fassler Hall. It’s great in warm weather, when the outdoor biergarten is hopping. The sausages, schnitzels and pretzel bread pudding can be awfully comforting on a cold winter night, too. Of course, the latter was our only choice recently, so winter it was.
The dining room resembles a typical German beer hall with eight 10-foot communal wooden tables and 16 stools at the bar. We sat at the bar, where the exceptional Jared was handling bartender and server duties. I don’t award stars for service unless a restaurant offers full table service, which Fassler doesn’t. If I did, Jared would be up there. He was attentive without being in your face, and he was fun and friendly without being over the top. And he knew his stuff.
Sausages are made in-house. We got two — the lamb ($8) and the Hunter ($8.50) — along with a schnitzel dinner ($14), a chicken schnitzel sandwich ($8.50) and an order of Fassler’s signature duck fat fries ($6). A German dunkel draft beer and a German riesling were perfect partners.
The lamb had a little spiciness to it and was served Mediterranean-style with greens, tzatziki sauce and a sprinkling of feta cheese on pita bread. The Hunter was a mix of smoked venison, bison and pork on a hot dog bun and came with a side of spicy mustard. I leaned toward the Hunter, but both were good.
The schnitzel dinner featured a breaded pork schnitzel topped with a dark mushroom sauce and served with a few fries and sweet potato spaetzle, which seemed a little sweeter than a standard noodle spaetzle.
Dining tip: My wife struggled a bit cutting the schnitzel with her stainless-steel table knife. Jared suggested she try a plastic knife, and sure enough, it worked better.
Duck fat fries are a staple item at Fassler Hall, and the medium-cut fries never disappoint. I never had the pretzel bread pudding ($5) before, and it was a treat with a drizzling of Bavarian cream that wasn’t overly sweet across the top.
Fassler Hall serves brunch from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The menu includes a variety of breakfast tacos, biscuits (check out the one with spicy fried chicken, American cheese, sausage gravy and an egg), waffles, Scotch egg and sausage roll. It also has a self-serve mimosa bar with a selection of juices.
German beers dominate the draft choices, though a couple of local beers and rotating seasonal taps are included. Bottled beers includes imports, nationals and locals. Fassler also has a limited wine list and a full bar.
Weekly specials include burger-beer nights with the burger of the month and a half-liter beer of the month for $10 from 7 p.m. to close Sunday-Monday; sausage party Mondays with all sausages half price from 11 a.m. to midnight; and happy-hour special, mini bratwurst and mini hot dogs, three for $6.75, from 4-8 p.m. Tuesday-Friday.