Not knowing where to eat for a one-night trip to Columbus, I defaulted to the trusty Urbanspoon to find that the city’s German Village neighbor there is a–you guessed it–German restaurant. But this isn’t just any old German restaurant. It’s practically an institution in Columbus–only confirmed by its popularity and great rating on Urbanspoon.
If it helps to understand how long this place has been around and how rooted in tradition they are, take this sign touting their “first new item in 25 years!” If you have been in business and continue to be in business for 25 years without changing anything, then you must be doing something right.
I’ll be the first to admit that, upon arrival, the place looks very cliche, complete with tacky-picture-ready life-sized cutouts of a beer maid and beer-gut wielding German dude in full-on lederhosen. As you approach the door, you’re hit with the blast of thematic beer-garden music that follows you inside to the deep green, freshly painted walls.
I jumped right in on the BEER SAMPLER ($8.00) which came with appx a 3 ounce taste of 6 different beers. It started off with the local house beers (that’s right, Schmidt’s brews it own): Schmidt’s Gold –> German Village Lager –> Schmidt’s Dark. I didn’t necessarily love any of the first three; the Dark was definitely better than the first two. Then, onto the imports: Warsteiner Pilsner –> Paulaner Oktoberfest –> Warsteiner Dunkel. I realize that this is likely common when sampling alcohol, but I genuinely feel like the next was always better than the last, with the Oktoberfest or Dunkel being my clear favorites.
It seems as though they were offering the buffet on most nights for $14– I took a peek and determined it might be a little fresher and warmer to just order off the menu–but for those of true Germanic decent with hearty appetites, this amazing deal is for you.
Instead, I opted for the OLD WORLD SAUSAGE PLATTER ($11.75), served with hot kraut, German potato salad, chunky applesauce and a bun. I was more than pleased with my choice–the buffet was looking a little stale by the time I got there, but this dish was served piping hot with 4 different types of sausage.
As the German theme music played on, I started to get the sense that Schmidt’s felt a little too institutionalized. The walls seem a little too freshly painted, the servers almost too uniformly dressed. By the end, I felt as if I could be in a theme restaurant at Disney World.
BOTTOM LINE: Amazing, delicious, authentic German food and beer with an atmosphere that nearly forces a not-so-genuine experience on you.