New England Regional | Tastes and Tables
German and Central European dishes shine in Somerville.
The classic jägerschnitzel ($24) is typically served with a brown mushroom gravy. Done wrong, the dish is a salty, glutinous meal anchored by a strip of boot leather. At Bronwyn in Union Square, however, the pork cutlets are thicker than usual, crisped just right, and served with an airy cream sauce laced with smoky paprika and a sprinkling of honey-toasted walnuts. Sautéed mushrooms stand on their earthy own alongside sweetly sour shredded red cabbage cooked down soft with apples and lots of bacon.
Such refinements are no surprise coming from the owners, chef Tim Wiechmann and his wife, Bronwyn (for whom the restaurant is named). The couple first created Cambridge’s T.W. Food, a purveyor of the clean, light, fresh fare coveted by svelte urbanites. By that measure, Bronwyn’s food is heavier and rustic, offering more of a trip to the hinterlands.
Communal dining happens at long wooden tables parallel to the zinc-topped bar in the main room. Walls hold rough wooden planks and artifacts: a cowbell, lederhosen, and maps of the Austro-Hungarian empire. Carved chairs with velvet upholstery, more kingly than kitschy, add a touch of Gothic drama, as does lighting from iron chandeliers that belonged to Wiechmann’s great-grandparents.
Family roots are reflected in the menu. Six kinds of sausages, all locally sourced and hand-cased, include those on the mini wurst plate ($13): mellow, custardy bierwurst (the meat is emulsified, mixed with egg and bread, then boiled) and grilled bratwurst (veal and pork spiked with black pepper). Roasted potatoes, sauerkraut (slow-cooked with Riesling), and a barbed-wire-sharp house mustard come on the side.
The soft “giant haus bretzel”($7) is a crowd-pleaser, but we also recommend pastry chef Keiko Tanaka’s other excellent brots, which come in a basket for $5: seeded roggenbrot (a dark, chunky rye), oat-honey challah, and soft onion-poppy rolls. Almost as tender is the potato knish flavored with shiitake mushrooms, leeks, and hazelnuts jazzed up with bits of blue cheese ($10). The heftier, pan-fried potato pierogi ($11) are paired with a spicy root-vegetable slaw.
Vegetables are scarce. The delicate cucumber salad has a vinegary punch. Or, as an entrée, try the robust vegan bio-makt teller ($17): roggenbrot spread with hazelnut butter, poblano-spiced barley, roasted butternut squash and carrots, charred Brussels sprouts, cucumber salad, and sautéed mushrooms.
The spätzle, rolled bites of egg noodles, might also appease vegetarians, although we found Bronwyn’s version, smothered with Comté cheese, a bit too rich—and the $19 price too high.
Desserts are $8. Don’t leave without tasting the hot raspberry-jelly donuts (berliners), rolled in sugar and served with chocolate dipping sauce. Lighter was the whipped-cream-topped apfeltorte, a deep pastry crust filled with slightly moist shredded apple cooked with raisins and cinnamon.
Lastly, a quick word on drinks. Bronwyn’s has a wide range of carefully chosen beers and wines from Germany and Central Europe, and cocktails that reflect the regions’ traditional use of berries, herbs, and orchard fruits. But diners should also feel free to end their meal with a nice cup of what the menu calls “Karma coffee” that comes all the way from Sudbury, Massachusetts.