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Mignon, a wine and cheese bar in the Historic Core of Downtown, looks and feels like a Parisian café. Deep blue walls shut out the sun, scores of wine glasses adorn the bar and funky music dances in the background. This is where I ate a Käsekrainer with rotkraut and potato salad. I ate German street food in a French wine and cheese bar. That’s totally normal.
Well, it’s normal for Mignon when the Knackig grill pops up on the restaurant’s patio every Sunday afternoon. The pop-up luncheonette Knackig serves German street food, beer and wine.
Named after the “snap,” “crackle” and “pop” that ensues from biting into a German sausage, Knackig is the result of two winos on the hunt for something new. Kevin Stuart owns a wine imports company, with experience in Prague, Taipei and Seoul. And Santos Uy owns a French restaurant called Papilles, where he is also the wine director.
I’m still uncertain as to why I consumed a German sausage, with German accompaniments, at a pop-up run by two winos with very non-German backgrounds inside a French café.
Curiosities aside, these two guys executed their German-inspired side-project excellently. As if fresh off the streets of Berlin, these sausages satiated my hunger for authentic German fare. I don’t know where Knackig is getting their sausages, but they’re ample and tasty.
The Käsekrainer really packed the knackig. Biting into its thick casing resulted in such a snap, the melted cheese inside immediately oozed out of the sausage. Each bite gave a little struggle with the thick casing but the entire thing was so tasty I didn’t mind. The ratio of cheese to meat was perfect and the piquant, flavorful meat paired well with the buttery cheese. Topping the sausage off with rotkraut—a red cabbage version of sauerkraut—enhanced the sweet essences of the sausage. While the rotkraut lacked the depth of my grandmother’s recipe that features cloves and bacon, I thoroughly enjoyed the condiment.
In comparison to the flavorful and cheesy Käsekrainer, the bratwurst was much more subtle. The classic German pork sausage tasted sweet with accents of nutmeg. Adding sauerkraut to the sausage gave it a tasty, acidic balance.
Potato salad can really be hit or miss, but Knackig’s salad, served warm, certainly hits the spot. Small pieces of bacon amplified the flavor of the starchy potatoes and creamy dressing. Though Knackig promotes their homemade gherkins, none made an appearance in the potato salad. The bacon took care of the salty notes that the gherkins would have added anyways.
Each weekend Knackig rotates through two German beers and two German or Austrian wines. Knackig will be expanding to Saturdays for the month of October in celebration of Oktoberfest. For more information visit their website, www.knackigla.com