New Bohemia in Northeast Minneapolis
New Bohemia Wurst and BierHaus slipped into Northeast Minneapolis on the sly, like the mysterious new kid in middle school. Just last week, Jeff Bornmann and Noel Bowman opened the European-style beer hall in the former Panera Bread on East Hennepin, featuring a mammoth craft beer list that includes at least 30 local and imported brews on tap, at least as many bottles and cans, and several themed flights. With an almost equally long roster of eye-popping sausages (can you dig alligator?), New Bohemia looks ready to throw its meaty dukes up against Kramarczuk’s just down the way. A new-kid show down hasn’t happened yet, but New Bohemia’s speedy, focused menu and late-night atmosphere is sure to separate it from the deli counter culture at Kramarczuk’s.
You order at the counter when you enter, right next to an almost Japanese-style showcase of sausages snuggled up next to whole, polished green and red peppers. Each sausage comes with one topping ($1 gets you another), but combinations are endless so it’s a good idea to ask the counter staff for suggestions. The adjacent dining room is sleek, minimal, and rather like a sports bar … except for the long communal tables, which remind you over the blare of music and pulsing TV screens that New Bohemia is trying to be a beer hall. Neighborly dining is fun, and the staff circulates diligently, clearing tables and answering questions with a smile.
And the wurst? There are scads. Eighteen different links, including chicken, pork, and pheasant, are separated into Classic, Premium, and Adventurous categories. Our favorites came from the Classics section. One Wisconsinite diner thought the Bratwurst ($5.75, above) was simple and spot on, and the Old Time link ($5.75) was slightly peppery, snappy, and like the best skin-on hot dogs we’ve tried.
From the Premium section, the Filipino Maharlika ($6.50, above) is packed with so much garlic you’ll either hate it or want to marry it, and the Ultimate Beef and Pork is big on flavor. And then there’s the Cajun Andouille ($6.50), with a slow heat that doesn’t get out of hand, and a thick casing that’s exhausting to chomp through. A little crisping might have helped, but unfortunately none of the sausages we tasted have that straight-from-the-grill char.
Don’t dismiss the Adventurous side of the menu — nightmarish contents like rattlesnake and alligator end up being just as palatable as the more ordinary sausages. The Rattlesnake Rabbit Jalapeno ($7.50) wasn’t spicy at all, but was much softer and richer than the andouille, with a gentle gamey attitude near the end. Topped with honey caramelized onions on a toasted bun, it was really really nice, if not exactly equal the price tag.
The menu is rounded out with just a few relevant sides that could use some revision. New Bohemia’s version of warm, German potato salad ($3.50) is gooey and boring. The “tangy, sweet bacon dressing” could have been chunky applesauce for all we knew. There’s nothing meaty or rich about it. Belgian fries ($3 regular / $5.50 large) are beautiful slivers that lack salt but speak big booming potato flavor. If you spring for a couple extra dipping sauces ($1), life is good.
Curiously, this new wurst center doesn’t make its sausage on site. According to bar manager Gabby Rudisill, New Bohemia’s recipes are unique, but every sausage is produced elsewhere, exclusively for them. Even the sweet rolls are made special at Saint Agnes in St. Paul. Now if they would just start crisping up their meats a bit and take the music down a few notches, New Bohemia could turn into a cheery University hub for all the beer your could ever want, ever, and quick, craveable snacks to keep it all down.
James Norton contributed to this story.
New Bohemia Wurst and BierHaus
Craft beer and sausage in Northeast Minneapolis
233 E Hennepin Ave
Minneapolis, MN 55414
OWNERS: Jeff Bornmann and Noel Bowman
BAR: Beer / Wine
VEGETARIAN / VEGAN?: Yes / Limited
ENTREE RANGE: $6-8