If you’re a fan of German food and drink and find your way to Marikka’s Bier Stube on Southland Drive, don’t expect to find a Bier Stube in the usual sense.
The “usual sense” is the German version of a British pub — frequently small and crowded, often in a cellar location where steins (and voices) are lifted in a rousing round of beer-drinking songs.
I’ve been to any number of places such as this in Germany and Austria, but I’ve never been to one quite like Marikka’s, which looks to have been transported from Germany to Kentucky by way of California.
After a $6 million remodel which was several years in the making, Marikka’s reopened last year as a combination beer hall and sports venue, and, oh yes, restaurant, although at times, the latter seems a bit of an afterthought.
Of the 22,000-square-foot-facility that is the new Marikka’s, nearly half of it (10,000-square-feet) is given over to a cavernous beer hall, where some 800 different brews are available. FYI: any patron who can lay claim to trying every beer will be ceremoniously inducted into Marikka’s Beer Club. Can we assume there will be some rousing beer drinking songs to suit the occasion?
On one side of the Beer Hall is a sand volleyball court, which on the night I was there, had a lively match going on between two of the many leagues who have found a home here. There is another volleyball court outdoors alongside a small beer garden.
That leaves the other side of the Beer Hall for restaurant customers. While devoid of any distinguishing décor other than tables scattered randomly across the large-ish room, it does offer the most authentic German food in Lexington (the current owner’s mother is Marikka and she does come from Germany).
I have to confess that as a lover of Tex-Mex and New Orleans cuisine, German food has always seemed somewhat bland to me — paprika being their idea of a fiery spice. Still, there were items on the menu that I found not just palatable, but quite good.
While the German cucumber salad ($5.99) was exactly like the ones my Texas-born mother and grandmother made, the fluffy potato pancakes with applesauce and choice of two dipping sauces ($7.99) were quintessentially German (and very delicious).
I’m normally not a veal-eater, but in this case, felt that a Wienerschnitzel was called for. Marikka’s, breaded and pan-fried, and served with two sides (I opted for the red cabbage and fried potatoes, $14.99) was very satisfactory.
One of my dining companions chose the Jagerschnitzel (breaded and pan-fried pork with peppers and onions, $12.99) and the other had Polish sausage with fried potatoes and sauerkraut ($9.99).
Speaking of sausages, the menu offers a choice of nine varieties: Cheddar, Knack, Brat, Mett, Polish, Kielbasa, Weisswurst, Currywurst and the oddly named Bahama Mama.
Should you not be able to make up your mind as to which wurst is best, there is a mixed sausage plate for $10.99, with three sausages plus a choice of hot or cold potato salad.
Finally, while none of us ordered the Giant Pretzel with German mustard and beer cheese ($12.99), we were sorry we didn’t. One would have been enough for all three of us to share.
Portions here are huge, and with the very reasonable prices (averaging $10-$30), Marikka’s makes for an economical and fun night out. I just wish it had retained a bit more of its Teutonic charm.
Marikka’s Restaurant and Bier Stube
Where: 411 Southland Drive
Hours: 4-10 p.m., Monday – Thursday; 4-11 p.m., Friday & Saturday
Payment: Cash and major credit cards