Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Review: Liehs & Steigerwald

Name: Liehs & Steigerwald
Address: 1857 Grand Blvd, Syracuse, NY
Phone: (315) 474-2171
Neighborhood: Northside
Website: www.liehsandsteigerwald.com
Category: Butcher, German market
Business Hours: Tuesday-Friday 7 AM to 6 PM, Saturday 7 AM to 5 PM
Parking: Private lot, on-street
Accepts Credit Cards: Yes
Delivery: Yes (regionally)

I have somewhat of an affinity to Syracuse's Northside. More specifically, to any shops or restaurants remotely relating to anything German in the neighborhood. My great-grandparents came over from Germany in the late 1800's and settled into Syracuse at the Butternut Street area around Schiller Park. Every generation since then has had someone either live or been born in Syracuse. And given the location and odds, I'm quite certain that one of my family members along the way at least once visited this family-owned and operated, German meat market.

German markets are few and far between these days. You can still spot hints of them around the city (Karcher's Meat Market comes to mind - a painted sign still exists on the side of the red building at 420 Butternut St, now Viet Ny Grocery). In early 2009, the neighborhood's heritage took a hit with the closing of Weber's Restaurant & Haus of Reubens, a longtime German restaurant and bar on Danforth Street. But despite the dwindling number of German shops, bakeries, and other establishments remaining in the neighborhood, Liehs & Steigerwald has stood strong and true to its roots since 1936, all operating out of the little house on Grant Boulevard.

Walking in, your first impression of Liehs & Steigerwald should be the amazing smell. Wafting around in the air are hints of garlic, fresh cut and cured meats of all assortments, and ingredients from their bratwursts and other homemade meats such as horseradish, bacon, cheeses, and hot peppers, to name a few. The smell alone from this place has to be one of the best in the city.

Inside there's a few display cases showcasing the non-pre packaged and fresh daily cut meats like beef, pork, chicken, turkey, lamb, and veal, cheeses (domestic and imported), Plainville and Boar's Head cold cuts, and homemade ones like blood tongue, German bologna, pressed ham, Polish ham, gelbwurst, roast beef, roast pork, and pastrami. For such a small store, there's a lot of interesting things on the shelves and counters too: chocolates, homemade horseradishes, dumpling mixes, German pastries, Underberg, Maggi, spice rubs, and even chopping blocks and cutlery.

And I haven't even mentioned the other specialty items here - all of which are homemade and contain no artificial flavors or preservatives: gravies, pierogies, German potato salad, sauerbraten, pickled eggs, cabbage rolls, beans, soups, hot dogs, coneys, kielbasa, bologna, liverwurst, sausages, chorizo, pickles, loafs, cutlets, spiedies, pork bones for flavoring, ribs, burgers, and 18 different kinds of bratwurst.

Exhale... A lot going on.

Behind one of the counters is an overhead chalkboard with some of the daily specials and pricing. Service was very helpful and best of all patient on this not-too-busy Saturday afternoon.

The order...

Bratwursts (2 jalapeno, 2 sun dried tomato chicken): $7.79
Pickle: $1.69
Jar of hot horseradish mustard: $4.99
Total money spent with tax: $15.90

Since this isn't a restaurant, I'll have to do the review a little differently than normal. Later that night I decided to make two bratwurst sandwiches. I grilled up the brats to get them brown, sauteed some onions, added some canned saurkraut (don't kill me, at least it was from Wisconsin!) and then simmered it all in some water and a little beer. Since I knew I was doing a review, I didn't add that much beer because I didn't want to distract from the flavor of the bratwurst by adding too much.




4 plump brats. Wrapped in parchment paper, the sign of a real butcher.




Shown here with L&S's Hot Horseradish Mustard.







You'll have to take your guess as to which is which because I can't remember. I think the jalapeno ones more tan.




A local lager like Utica Club may have been more appropriate, but Molson was all that I had in my fridge. And next time on the way back home, I'll stop by DiLauro's Bakery for rolls and skip the grocery store brand.

Noticeable after the first bite was the overwhelming fume of horseradish that was sent into my sinuses. If you love horseradish or very spicy mustard, you may be in heaven. I loved the fresh taste, classic flavor, and bright yellow color of L&S's mustard but I had to switch over to my refrigerated Hofmann brand because the horseradish was just way too spicy. My face was on fire, basically. If it's any consolation, I still have it. Again, great flavor and I even use it on sandwiches every once in a while (Boar's Head ham, provilone, Harrison Bakery rye bread, and this all go amazing together). I just add the horseradish parts VERY sparingly. I'm talking pinky nail size. I can only imagine what the Xtra Hot style is like.

For the bratwursts, I wasn't too crazy about the sun dried tomato and chicken one as I thought it was a tad dry and a little bland. I would've liked a little more tomato presence in it. The jalapeno was awesome: juicy meat, a very fresh taste, not overly spicy but enough to know that it's jalapeno, and encased a nice snappy skin.

Lastly, a great, classic dill pickle: large size, clean, fresh, and very crisp. Without diminishing how good this was, it had a similar flavor to the Claussen store brand but without the unnecessary preservatives.

Other notes...

- Liehs & Steigerwald has an "at your door" program for delivery to select cities in Central New York where they can not only deliver meats, but their Hot and Eat Meals as well. Check the website for more details.

- They also offer knife sharpening here.

All and all, it's a great store, with great history, great meat, outstanding selection, and friendly service. It might even be a hidden gem to pick up things for tailgating. I'll have to check out some of the other bratwursts, hot dogs, cuts of meat, and the chicken wing bratwurst (yes, you read that correctly), which is supposed to be very good - complete with blue cheese inside. Though I found their keilbasa a bit tough and gritty when I had it after my visit last year, I also had the pierogies which were awesome and the jar of hot pickles which were amazing (I didn't see them on the shelves this time around).

That all being said, it's not a bad place for basic grocery shopping either. There's a lot you could fill your fridge and freezer with here. I'll hold off on the elite 5-star rating as I'd like to try some other things. For now, let's settle with 4.5. And if you have any suggestions on what else is good here, let me know in the comments section.

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