Anyone who knows Chef Payton Curry (perhaps from previous gigs at Digestif, Caffe Boa, Welcome Diner, or sightings at FnB) knows that when he gets passionate about a project, he throws his heart and soul into making everything no less than perfect. But I gotta admit I had my doubts when he initially told me about his next big venture, a Scottsdale-based German biergarten featuring a variety of brats, burgers, and craft beers. I had to wonder if that genre was going to be a big enough canvas for his creative chef-foolery.
But as the weeks progressed and I saw (via social media, of course) Payton and partner Dave Andrea gradually transform the old Oregano’s space near Scottsdale Road and Goldwater Boulevard into a biergarten worthy of the streets of Frankfurt, those doubts began to disappear. Payton and Dave admittedly don’t take themselves too seriously, and this shows in every detail of Brat Haüs—from the funky light fixtures crafted from steel beams and old ammo boxes formed into wall décor and condiment holders to the whimsical outdoor mural (which will change every few months) and the Bru Haüs restroom door (aptly labeled “Beer Recycling”).
Brat Haüs is kind of a funny, disjointed place, all pulled together by the large biergarten in the center, which, in the cooler months (think Oktoberfest!) promises to be the place to hang out with friends, drink a few brews and play a game of washers or two. The back kitchen is where all the natural meat, straight from the Midwest, is ground and cased into an eclectic variety of brats, which are then smoked before they head into the front kitchen, where they’re finished off on the grill. Attached to that kitchen is the “market,” where you can purchase a selection of brats and goodies to take home, or simply hang out and grab a brat to go or dine in. Another small outbuilding houses the Bru Haüs (i.e. bar), serving up a solid selection of German, Belgian and North American beers (warning: the Belgian beers are pricey), wines, artisan sodas, shakes (“adult” versions available), and even an adult butterscotch root beer float made from root beer schnapps…yum!
The menu is simple but fascinating. Who knew you could get so creative with brats? Oh sure, you wimps can stay traditional (Beer Bratwurst, Spicy Brat, Sweet Brat, Thai Chicken, Vegan Grain Sausage, Kosher-Style Beef, Spanish Pork Chorizo and Chicken with Roasted Chiles)—but why not be adventurous and try the gourmet brats (Duck Duck Dates, Moroccan Lamb or Turkey Loukaniko) or the even more off-the-wall exotic selection (Rabbit & Hops or Rattlesnake Ripper)? There’s always a “guest chef sausage” created by one of Payton’s colleagues in the Valley, with proceeds going to charity (the menu debuted with a barbecue pork and jalapeño brat from Chef Justin Beckett). Choose your brat, then choose your topping (sauerkraut, spicy peppers, pickle relish, root beer onions, apricot onion chutney, or pickled red onions…all house-made). Can’t decide? Ask for pairing recommendations—the friendly servers are more than happy to offer suggestions.
If you’re more in the mood for a burger, you’ve got three tasty options, including The Pig Mac (pun intended; Payton’s famous for ’em), starring two quarter-pound patties (one pork, one beef), lettuce, pickle, caramelized onion, and “hush hush” sauce. My husband could barely finish this—but perhaps that’s because we started off by sharing a delicious pretzel (stone hearth baked in-house) with a beer-and-cheese-laden fonduta for dipping, and then tried the thrice-cooked Belgian fries. For those preferring lighter fare, go for the salads (spinach, beet or chopped wedge), all said to be stellar, particularly the beet (beets, sunflower sprouts and seeds, and apricots with a honey-citrus dressing).
But whatever you do, try to save room for the Drunken Date Cake—as the menu says, an “intoxicating” sponge cake made with Oatmeal Stout. I tried this on a subsequent visit and was blown away.
And what better excuse to check out Brat Haüs than today (Thursday, August 16), which just happens to be National Bratwurst Day? In fact, Brat Haüs is offering free buns and homemade mustard and sauerkraut for all retail brat orders through the market section of the restaurant: simply call in your order for brats and fixins, pick up and have a sausagefest in your own home—if for some unfortunate reason you can’t hang around the Haüs. Dust off your lederhosen and head on over!
Brat Haüs is located at 3622 N. Scottsdale Road, just north of Goldwater, next to Salty Señorita. Open Sunday to Thursday 11 a.m. to midnight, Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Telephone 480-947-4006. Parking can be tricky; either find a place on the street nearby or, rumor has it, you can park in the Salty Señorita lot—but you might want to check first!