Luck of der Irish
Schumann’s Jäger Haus, the Mulvaney brothers’ venture into German cuisine, is a winner all around, from schnitzel to spatzle.
Any mention of the Brothers Mulvaney brings to mind the almost mythic Mulvaney’s Irish Pub, a traditional public house that brought many a soccer fan and Beamish Stout lover to Church Street for 16 years.
After its closing in 2001, owners Brian and Ken concentrated on other things: Ken had unsuccessful runs for Orlando mayor in 2004, 2008 and 2012; another brother, James, owned the Clad-dagh Cottage pub and partially owns the Harp and Celt. But when the lease came due on the bustling Dragon Room Bar next to the former Mulvaney’s Pub location (the brothers own the building), a new thought bloomed in the enterprising Dubliners’ minds.
A German restaurant.
Schumann’s Jäger Haus, operated by Brian and Ken Mulvaney, is named for their stepfather, Ernest Schumann, who moved to Dublin from north-central Germany in the 1970s.. The staples of that Teutonic area are reflected at Schumann’s, which turns out almost every familiar German food—pork, cabbage, sausage—and lots of beer. Westphalian Warsteiner, Saxony Radeberger and refreshing Schöfferhofer Grapefruit Hefeweizen are on tap to fuel enjoyment of the authentic menu.
Schumann’s Jäger Haus
An essential test of a German kitchen is the spätzle, small potato dough dumplings that are the pasta of the Germanic world. At Schumann’s, they are served as a gravy-sopping side or starter (Käse Spätzle, $7), and are squeakily resistant to the tooth, savory and perfect. My other go-to is potato pancakes, and here they are more shredded hash browns than floury latkes, but still a nice base for the crimson wedge of “Haus” smoked salmon ($8).
I was impressed with the kitchen’s focus on just a few, excellent versions of schnitzel, the thinly pounded and breaded meat course. The pork or chicken Jäger schnitzel ($15) was a tender, moist and uncharacteristically thick cutlet, dressed in a rich mushroom demi-glace and served with pickled red cabbage. There’s also a cordon bleu version with ham and Gruyere cheese ($16), and a delightful schnitzel Holstein ($22) of flattened veal served with salty anchovies, tart capers and a fried egg.
Families take note: Kids may shy away from the more esoteric items, but schnitzel is pretty close to a big chicken tender, and our 13-year-old table mate declared the “Hamburg”-er ($12), a half-pound Angus burger on a pretzel roll, as “really good.”
Schumann’s executive chef is Ralph Oliver, who started cooking in junior high school in Orlando. “Eating was a big deal in my family,” he says. After local apprenticeships, Oliver established himself at resort hotels, and as executive chef at Christini’s Ristorante and Kres Chophouse. His own German roots come through in the mostly traditional menu, although he
does like to “tweak things up a little.” Oliver says his next goal is to concentrate on in-house sourcing, curing his own meats and sausage.
While the family connections are strong, the business is more than a sentimental homage. Says Brian Mulvaney, “We looked around for a new concept, and there wasn’t anything German downtown. We weren’t aiming for the typical Church Street crowd, the 20-somethings looking for the bars.” And the brothers seem to have succeeded. The diners I saw during my visits were looking for a hearty meal, and many a conversation in German could be overheard.
The exposed brick walls give a cozy and historically warm feel to the giant space (the building was erected in 1911), and murals on the balcony floor and strategic artwork give an Old-World ambiance without resorting to gingerbread and cuckoo clocks. I liked the food and the atmosphere; Schumann’s gives me hope that more alternatives to nightclubs will continue to appear on Church Street.
Fest in September
Oktoberfest, the grandest of German beer festivals, begins in September, and Schumann’s is launching it Sept. 27 with an all-day street party, filled with live bands, acres of bratwurst, fistfuls of pilsner and a “Ms. Oktoberfest” contest.