Smile Politely

Horsch Radish serves outstanding German food

To say I was distraught when Bayern Stube in Gibson City closed is probably a bit hyperbolic, but I was really bummed. I met Bayern Stube’s founder, Peter Schnabel, when he ran the Jumer’s Hotel in 1988. I sold advertising, and Peter set up a trade agreement with our television station. He was great to deal with, and for a young person just starting out in the real world, I got to eat at Jumer’s and simply sign for my meals and add a gratuity. Quite the sweet deal as Jumer’s was still in their heyday serving excellent cuisine.

Fast forward a couple years later; Peter left Jumer’s to open The Bayern Stube. He was always there to greet people and typically manning the bar. He had a wonderful baritone voice with a lovely German accent. He was truly a great character, and it was a wonderful place to visit.

I was thrilled when I heard Sam Horsch and Matthew Ertel were going to open a farm-to-table German restaurant in Gibson City. It takes a tremendous amount of courage to open a restaurant. It takes ten times that amount to follow a legendary place and serve the same type of food. It is unfair, but people are going to compare this new place to the former. I discussed with my wife before we went, that we need to approach this as if we are going to a brand-new restaurant we know nothing about — because that it exactly what it is. So, if you are looking for comparisons between Horsch Radish and The Bayern Stube, you won’t find it here.

The interior of Horsch Radish. Photo by Carl Busch.

Photo by Carl Busch.

What you will find by reading this review is that Horsch Radish is a wonderful place to visit and serves excellent German cuisine. The interior was warm and inviting with white walls, wooden beams, and a great old school bar with plenty of German beer on tap available in half or full liters.

The interior of Horsch Radish. Photo by Carl Busch.

Photo by Carl Busch.

German music played at the perfect amount volume, so we could hear it but didn’t have to talk over it. The host and waitstaff were very friendly and informed to help make a great decision for a meal. 

A basket of complementary bread. Photo by Carl Busch.

Photo by Carl Busch.

Our server Deb greeted us and gave us some wonderful German bread with compound butter.

A German pretzel made by Horsch Radish. Photo by Carl Busch.

Photo by Carl Busch.

The first order of business was to order a pretzel ($9) as our appetizer. This pretzel was scratch made and served with Riggs bier cheese sauce and compound herb butter. The pretzel had a perfect crust on the outside yet was soft and pillowy inside. It was a generous size and topped with an extremely fine salt, which I find superior to the traditional larger pretzel salt. It had a darker color than most pretzels, which I suspect is from a dark bier in the batter — but I don’t know for sure.

The bier cheese sauce and compound butter were both outstanding complements. We told our server Deb we were very impressed. She said they went through many recipes and trial and error before perfecting this one. The extra work showed and was much appreciated.

The sausage platter at Horsch Radish. Photo by Carl Busch.

Photo by Carl Busch.

I chose the sausage platter ($25) as my entrée. Every entrée comes with two sides, and I chose red cabbage and hand-cut French fries. The three sausages were a Polish, brat, and sweet and sassy. Like most of the menu items, the sausages were sourced from local farms. They were served with a Bavarian and a sweet mustard sauce. All three sausages were wonderfully spiced and had a great snap when bit. I enjoyed them both plain and with the mustards. The mustards were so good that I dipped my fries in both. I can honestly say that was the first time I ever dipped fries in mustard, but it was glorious. The hand-cut fries were fried perfectly and seasoned very well.

The cabbage was so good it deserves its own paragraph. If my mom’s cabbage was like this, she wouldn’t have had to bribe me to eat cabbage. It was sweet; it was smoky, and it was savory and wonderfully cooked with onions and bacon. What I really appreciated, besides the wonderful flavor, was the texture. It was cooked through, but not overcooked and had a great mouthfeel. I seriously would think about going back and ordering cabbage and more cabbage as my two sides.

Chicken schnitzel made by Horsch Radish. Photo by Carl Busch.

Photo by Carl Busch.

My wife chose the chicken schnitzel ($18) with smashed potatoes and red cabbage (pro move!) as her sides. You can choose between two sauces: Vienna-style (lemon slice, capers, and demiglace) or the one my wife chose: Jaeger sauce (mushroom, onion, demiglace, Dijon, and red wine). The schnitzel starts with locally sourced meat, tenderized, breaded, and fried. The schnitzel was fried perfectly, nice and crisp on the outside, and the chicken was juicy and tender on the inside. The Jaeger sauce had a wonderful flavor and a wonderful dark brown color — and it was thick, so I could get maximum coverage on the bite. The smashed potatoes were whipped potatoes with garlic and butter. The potatoes were nice and fluffy, and they did not skimp on the garlic! The garlic flavor was outstanding.

The interior of the Horsch Radish. Photo by Carl Busch.

Photo by Carl Busch.

We were so thrilled that our experience was so outstanding, and we cannot wait to go back again and try other items. Everyone was extremely friendly and helpful, and the food was outstanding. I listened to people at other tables, and they were all raving as well.

They have a great dessert list as well including crème brulee, lemon berry mascarpone, Sacher brownie, black forest cake, and carrot cake, all $8 each. Do yourself a favor and book a table at Horsch Radish. You are not only supporting a local business, but a local business that is supporting other local businesses. They also have a VIP text service. I joined and will receive half off my next appetizer, along with special perks on my birthday.

Reservations are highly recommended. Reserve a table via phone or online. My wife and I really enjoyed our visit and look forward to coming back.

Horsch Radish
209 N Sangamon Ave
Gibson City
Th-Sa 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. + 4 to 9 p.m.
Su 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Top image by Carl Busch.

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