Schulte & Herr
349 Cumberland Ave., Portland
Bayside is one of the most diverse neighborhoods in the state, home to generations of immigrants from all over the world. So if I told you there’re a new “ethnic” restaurant on Cumberland Avenue, it’d probably take you about 200 guesses before you arrived at “German.”
Fair enough. I mean, I can’t honestly say I’ve spent much time thinking about German food. Don’t get me wrong, I like a good wienerschnitzel as much as the next guy, and I’m all for buxom Bavarian barmaids bearing bratwurst and beer steins. But when I’m seeking ethnic food in Portland, I usually tend toward fare that’s a little less euro zone.
Regardless, when Schulte & Herr opened a few weeks ago, I was curious. I made plans with a friend to meet for Saturday breakfast (they’re closed on Sundays). My wife, 7-year-old daughter and I arrived first. We were welcomed by Fraulein Schulte (Herr Herr, or “Mister Mister” to English speakers and ’80s pop fans, runs the back of the house), who cheerfully brought us coffee and juice while we waited.
Distracted by an almost unbearable hunger, my wife noticed “vanilla custard with pumpkin maple compote” written on the specials board and decided to start our meal early with that dessert-slash-hors d’oeuvre (henceforth known as “deserve”). The decadent custard ($2), flecked with vanilla bean and topped with a deliciously chunky, über-sweet sauce, certainly helped pass the time until our friend showed up and we placed our breakfast orders.
I chose the lyrically named bauernfruehstueck ($7), a German-style omelette with potatoes, onions and chives. The large chunks of potato made for a much higher potato-to-egg ratio than I had expected, but I found it quite enjoyable. Figuring no self-respecting German would eat a totally meatless morning meal, I added a side order of sausages ($3). The breakfast links, made by the Sausage Kitchen in Lisbon Falls, were easily among the best I’ve ever eaten.
My wife opted for potato pancakes with house-cured lox, horseradish sauce, capers and cornichons ($9). She found the pancakes crisp and light, without the heavy, greasy flavor that plagues lesser latkes. The lox was equally outstanding, with notes of dill and citrus accenting the smoky salmon.
For my daughter, the Belgian waffle with blueberry-maple syrup ($7) looked too good to pass up. And she was right — it was fantastic. Unlike a typical waffle that serves only as a vehicle for fruity toppings and whipped cream, this one was delicious on its own, with flavors of whole wheat, yeast and vanilla melding together perfectly. Of course, dipping bites into a blend of wild blueberries and maple syrup was pretty freaking good, too. Her side order of bacon ($3), though meaty and not too salty, was unfortunately a little undercooked for our tastes.
My friend Jan tried the pan-fried potato-raisin bread with syrup ($5), something you won’t find on too many menus around town. The airy bread was cooked in butter until crisp, kind of like an eggless French toast. In a rare case of underselling, the “syrup” turned out to be real maple syrup; you know, the kind that comes from trees and usually costs extra. Bravo, Herr Herr.
Until now, I hadn’t realized that the Portland restaurant scene was lacking a German breakfast-and-lunch café, but it turns out that’s precisely what was missing. Schulte & Herr is a welcome addition to Bayside, and I for one am thrilled that the neighborhood just got even more diverse.
— Dan Zarin
Schulte & Herr is open Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Breakfast is served until 11:30 a.m.