At Funkenhausen, chef Mark Steuer draws inspiration from his Charleston upbringing and German heritage to create a funky love child of Southern and Bavarian flavors. This mash-up of cuisines, cultures and memories is personal but doesn’t take itself too seriously. (Its name along with the funk music on permanent rotation is a tip-off of what to expect.) In the hands of Steuer, traditionally heavy dishes become lighter versions of themselves.
Open since early August, Funkenhausen is digging deeper into what makes it unique with new menu items that take advantage of seasonal ingredients. In addition, brunch is in full swing, with dishes ranging from a Deutsch Baby Pancake and Schnitz and Gritz to steak and eggs for two.
Oyster roasts were always a part of the Southern parties Steuer grew up with. Oysters Hockafeller, his ode to oysters Rockefeller, continues the celebratory vibe. A true combo of German and Southern flavors, the grilled oysters are topped with bits of slowly braised ham hock, creamed spinach and pickled chiles. Crispy chicharron from the hock replace the breadcrumbs.
In fitting its name, the Big-Ass Schnitzel can be found in the Big As Funk section of the menu. A favorite dish of his mom growing up, Steuer’s schnitzel has quickly earned its own fan club at Funkenhausen. (Bring friends or come very hungry.)
Not every dish at Funkenhausen is a love story. Case in point: Charred Broccolini, which was inspired by Steuer’s loathing of the version his mom and grandmother made and his motivation to reinvent it. He removed the bacon and lets the smoke flavor come via the grilled broccolini, which replaced the original broccoli. Golden raisins are rehydrated in cider vinegar to provide an acidic balance, while buttermilk dressing subs in for mayo. Toasted hazelnuts and a drizzle of chili oil finish the dish, which has become one of Funkenhausen’s top sellers.
For his Garlicky Pretzel Knots, Steuer taps into a favorite childhood treat: garlic knots from his local pizzeria. Following German tradition, the made-in-house pretzel dough gets a dip in lye before baking. Brushed with garlic-butter just before serving, the warm knots are paired with pimento-beer cheese and Alabama white barbecue sauce.
Befitting any bier hall worthy of its steins, Funkenhausen’s on-tap beer list features only German offerings, providing a full expression of the styles found there, including some under-the-radar items. The bottle and can list widens the beer playing field with some domestic and local love. A tightly curated wine list focuses on high-acid, food-friendly Old World varietals. A rotating on-tap white is always available. A half-dozen Haus cocktails, including a Bavarian Old Fashioned, round out the beverage offerings.