Knowing that I was headed to Milwaukee for business, a friend made me promise to try Mader’s Restaurant, a classic German restaurant.
For more than 100 years, Mader’s has been serving up traditional German food, and it looks it. The restaurant is a strange mix of the kitschy and expected, and it mostly works. The dark interior has the feel of a castle banquet room as it welcomes the scores of customers who find their way here every day.
The lunch menu was surprisingly hearty and making a decision was exceedingly complicated. I chose the sauerbraten and schnitzel, with a roasted chicken soup as a starter. Accompanying the meal was perhaps the best pretzel roll I’ve ever had. It was small, warm and as fluffy as only pretzel bread can be.
The soup was an odd assortment of roasted chicken, homemade noodles, and a random mix of veggies. The soup was fine, except the noodles weren’t completely cooked and the broth had a fairly unpleasant aftertaste. But I wasn’t worried by this, I knew the true delicacies were on their way.
Sauerbraten is basically a marinated roast beef. It was a new dish for me and I wasn’t sure what to expect. It reminded me of a sweet BBQ. The meat was drenched in a strange ginger snap sauce that left me wondering if it was good or not. The schnitzel was excellent and it is evident that it is their showpiece. Unfortunately, the strange ginger snap sauce ended up drowning the schnitzel and the spaetzle, so the entire meal ended up having the flavor of the sauerbraten.
Given all this, I still enjoyed my experience. Even with the ginger snap debacle, the meal was excellent and the kitsch is what makes a German restaurant memorable. We WANT to see giant beer mugs and Black Forest wood carvings. It comes with the territory.
Mader’s has withstood the test of time and is a true Milwaukee landmark.
1037 North Old World 3rd Street
Milwaukee, WI 53203
Milwaukee German Restaurant