Bay Bites
Old Stein Inn: Oktoberfest All Year Long
by Gabby Crabcakes

Having never traveled to Germany, I have, however, some appreciation for one notable German custom: Oktoberfest. On a recent visit to the Old Stein Inn in Mayo, a friend asked co-owner Mike Selinger if there were any big plans for an Oktoberfest celebration this fall. Selinger replied, "every day is Oktoberfest at the Old Stein."

While they may not pack the rowdy crowds of a true Oktoberfest event, the intent remains true: Eat, drink, and be merry with all the German flavor the Selinger family can muster.

Approaching the restaurant's 16th anniversary, patriarch Karl (also chef), wife Ursula, son Mike and new daughter-in-law Beth devote a lot of heart, heritage, hard work and authentic recipes to their restaurant. While Old Stein is neither fancy nor frilly, the restaurant, bar and newly opened Biergarten provide comfort and a departure from the ordinary.

Located off Central Avenue in a building that was one of the first Southern Anne Arundel gas stations in the 1930s, it's easier to picture the Old Stein as a home. The main floor is comprised of several intimate dining rooms as well as a bar for before and after libations (or, if you just want to watch the game). Decor is subtle with lace curtains and German-themed accents. Be sure and admire the beautiful tin ceilings!

On this recent visit I wanted to check out the new addition, a large outdoor patio and garden. This fenced-in oasis with brick pavers, umbrella-covered tables, comfortable chairs, tiki torches and mood lighting is surrounded by a perimeter garden with fish pond and waterfall. While the plantings are new, the concept is wonderful. And even on a stuffy humid evening, there was a cool breeze blowing on the patio. The only thing missing is music, which would only enhance the ambiance. We were told that a request for a permit has been made to allow live entertainment. I'll be sure to let you know.

A chief part of German culture is beer, and it conveys in the Old Stein. Draft and bottled selections are plentiful and varied. Presentation is appropriate to the beer of choice. Be it lager, dopplebock, pilsner or weiss bier (to name a few), the stein, glass or mug is matched for authenticity. A half-liter Polaner lager is served in a tall glass ($4.50). A sweet and flavorful Lindemans Kriek "Cherry" Lambic (16.9 oz ­ a big bottle ­ $9.00) is served in a champagne glass. This is some serious beer for serious beer drinkers.

The wine list is also German. While not long, it does offer sparkling, red, white and dessert wines priced from $18-$60.

If you've never enjoyed German food before, be prepared for some hearty fare. Veal, pork and beef are pivotal in German specialties. While the menu at Old Stein offers a few local seafood and chicken dishes for the unadventursome, the majority of the menu consists of a variety of wurst (think sausage) and schnitzel (breaded filet of pork or veal) entrees. Vegetarians and dieters will not be overwhelmed with options. A children's menu is offered.

To start the meal, I considered the appetizers. The Optimator crab dip ($5.95) is a variation on the local theme incorporating Optimator bier. There are also lager-battered onion rings ($4.95) and rollmops ($4.95) aka marinated herring. What my dining companion and I selected could easily accommodate a party of four, or matched with a salad, make a tasty meal in itself. The assorted wurst and cheese platter ($6.95) is an ample serving with a variety of grilled veal and pork wurst niblets and chunks of several different cheeses, complemented with spicy mustard.

For an entree, I was torn between the evening's specials: schweine steak ($16.95) and drunken German chicken ($13.95), a chicken breast marinated in lager sautéed then served with a Jager sauce (think Jagermiester) accompanied by spatzle and red cabbage. I chose the former, a pork loin steak served over garlic creamed spinach and topped with roasted red peppers. Served with a side of spatzle and red cabbage, the portion was large, with two pork steaks and generous side servings. All of the flavors complemented one another. Needless to say, a doggie bag was in order.

Meanwhile, my dinner partner was wrestling with his decision. He selected one of the house specialties, weiner schnitzel ($16.95), a flattened veal patty breaded and fried and topped with anchovies and lemon. This dish was also sided with spatzle and red cabbage. The veal was thin and tender and given a nice zip with the anchovies and lemon. Spatzle, by the way, is a small potato pasta, very mild and easily seasoned to your liking. Dinners are served with rolls and a house salad (at least you'll eat some greens!).

You would think it difficult to continue eating at this point. However, in an effort to provide a better picture for you, reader, I ordered dessert. Our waitress brought a tray with three fresh-baked sweets (made by a local woman). The Bavarian apple cheesecake was the winner in more ways than one. Creamy and tart with just the right amount of sweetness, it was the perfect finish.

For a taste of Germany, travel to the Old Stein.


The Old Stein Inn 1143 Central Ave. (Rt. 214), Mayo 410/798-6807

Proprietors: The Selinger Family

Reasons to go: Every day is Oktoberfest.

Something to think about: Vegetarians and dieters will not likely be overwhelmed with menu options.

| Issue 29 |

Volume VII Number 29
July 22-28, 1999
New Bay Times

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