301 Woodland Street
Nashville, TN 37213
Each August, my boss and I take one of my largest clients for a “football lunch” at Gerst Haus, a German-American restaurant located in Nashville near LP Field, home of the Tennessee Titans.
The purpose of the meeting is for everyone to make their predictions regarding the Titans’ upcoming season. We each predict what the season record will be for the Tennessee Titans, with the prize being a “free” lunch at a subsequent season-end lunch meeting. Of course, we all get a free lunch, but there’s a year’s worth of bragging rights on the line, and that’s more important than a free lunch anyway, right?
Gerst Haus opened on 2nd Avenue North in Nashville in 1955, an effort by the grandson of William Gerst to keep the family business going after his grandfather’s brewery closed in 1954 after 64 years of operation.
In 1970, Gerst Haus moved to 228 Woodland Street, where it operated until 1998. It was demolished at that time to make room for the Tennessee Titans’ football stadium. After a two-year hiatus, Gerst Haus reopened in 2000 at its current location.
The business is now owned by Jerry and Jim Chandler, who purchased it in 1988. The brothers have remained true to the original mission of the Gerst Haus, providing fine German and American food in an authentic beer hall atmosphere.
Long a favorite of Nashville politicians, the decor of the restaurant has plenty of local “flavor”. One of the most notable items is a painting of Donau, winner of the 1910 Kentucky Derby and owned by grandfather William Gerst. Donau is the only Tennessee-bred horse ever to win the prestigious Derby. You’ll also find artwork featuring the original brewery, antique drinking horns, and an antique scale train set.
Gerst Haus is known for its wiener schnitzel, bratwurst, and corned beef and cabbage. It’s also well known for its frozen giant fishbowls of Gerst Amber beer, a beer which is now brewed under commission by the Pittsburg Brewing Company.
I typically order something moderately healthy at these lunches, owing to my general dislike of German food and my desire to live past the age of 60. I decided this time, however, to order something German, since I had a review to write. When in Bavaria, right?
With that in mind, I ordered the German Fried Bologna Sandwich. I know, a bologna sandwich is probably not the first thing that comes to mind when you crave authentic German food. It is, however, as close as I was willing to go.
The fried bologna sandwich is served with melted pepperjack cheese on a grilled bun, and it comes with fries or your choice of side. The bologna on this sandwich was hand-cut, and it was nearly 1/2” thick. It was cooked to perfection and had wonderful flavor. The bun was nice and soft, just what you expect on a sandwich of this type. The pepperjack cheese nicely complimented – without overpowering – the flavor of the bologna.
If you’re not into sausages, and you want something moderately German, I recommend this sandwich.
Speaking of sausages, two of my lunch companions had the Kielbase Dinner, which is spicy, charbroiled smoked sausage, served with your choice of two sides and rye bread. They order this same thing virtually every time we go to Gerst Haus, so I’m guessing it’s pretty good.
The fourth member of our cohort had the Reuben, and I’m told no one makes a better Reuben in Nashville. The Reuben comes on grilled rye bread and is served with fries or another side of your choice.
Now back to those fishbowls. If you’ve not had Gerst Amber beer, you’re truly missing out. It’s an excellent beer. The fishbowls are frozen to perfection and brimming with ice-cold beer. It’s quite an experience. If for some unfathomable reason you do not like Gerst Amber beer, you can choose from over 25 different draught beers with which to fill your frozen fishbowl. On this day, I broke with tradition and had Stella Artois.
Now I’m not German, and I realize Europeans generally do not drink beer in frozen containers. They also don’t drink “ice cold” beer. We are, however, in America. And Americans LOVE cold beer. So keep that in mind when you order your beer. If you want an authentic German beer experience, I’m sure they can round up a room-temp mug for you.
In fact, you should probably keep that American-thing in mind when it comes to the food, as well. Gerst Haus is a German-American restaurant and, sometimes, the emphasis might be on the “American”. Each time I’ve been, the experience has been pleasurable, if not totally German.
With tax and tip, this lunch for 4 came to just under $60. That’s not too bad for a Friday-afternoon business lunch and beer.
Visit Gerst Haus for a (somewhat) authentic German beer hall experience. In you go on Friday or Saturday nights, you can do the chicken dance and the Hokey Pokey with the polka band. Or you can drink beer from a frozen fishbowl and laugh at other people dancing with the polka band. But where is the fun in that? Get out there and dance! Live a little!
The brothers Chandler also own The Sportsman’s Grille in Hillsboro Village, The Sportsman’s Lodge in Cool Springs, as well as another Gerst Haus location in Evansville, Indiana, and Smitty’s Tavern, also in Evansville.