German bier house with an American twist opens in Mankato

MANKATO — Does it evoke the old German bier hall? 

Deutschland ist wunderschön, but this is America after all. 

"New Bohemia kind of started as our interpretation of a German beer hall and what the American twist on that would be," said Brian Ingram, COO of one of Mankato's newest restaurants. 

New Bohemia Wurst+BierHaus recently opened in Mankato Place in part of the space where the former Buffalo Wild Wings was. The other half of the space is still unoccupied.

The restaurant combines German culinary tradition with American creativity and craftsmanship. Instead of German or Polish beer, it serves up beer and ales made in small batches by local breweries. 

Because "what goes better with beer than sausage?" New Boehmia also serves up unique wurst.

"We buy from family farms," Ingram said. "Zero nitrates, zero artificial flavors, all organic vegetables go into our sausages." 

New Bohemia takes a culinary approach to wurst, which is not something you see every day. 

As a result, it has "sausage you can eat every day without your body hating you for it," Ingram said. 

The wursts are flavored with herbs and spices instead of fat.

Ingram, also a chef, helped develop New Bohemia's unique flavors. He is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in New York and has worked with some of the world's top chefs. 

Jeff Bornmann, co-owner of New Bohemia, is the self-proclaimed "sausage king" and a restaurateur. 

"When you bite into one of our sausages, it has a different feel," Bornmann said. 

Some of the flavor combinations are unique as well. 

Though, of course, New Bohemia has the classic "Tommy Knocker beer bratwurst," it also has a macaroni and cheese dog, a lamb sausage served gyro style, a southwestern buffalo sausage, wild boar sausage, alligator sausage and rattlesnake rabbit jalapeno sausage. 

The Jackalope, which is a combination of pork, antelope and rabbit, has been featured on the hit TV show "Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern." 

To go with all the wurst is a collection of mustards made on site. The restaurant's sauerkraut is brined in beer and cooked in bacon. 

As an appetizer, you can order one of the beer hall's enormous bavarian pretzels, which are the size of a small pizza and weigh in at just over 3 pounds. They are served with a beer cheese sauce. 

"I have, in fact, done it but it is difficult to do it — eat it as one person," Bornmann said. 

New Bohemia, because it is modeled after a beer hall after all, is designed to be communal and serve large numbers of people at once. It has long tables with benches, which are meant to encourage customers to sit, talk and eat together. Even the bathrooms have communal sinks, designed to spur conversation among those washing their hands.

Ingram said New Bohemia has a festive, family vibe, and at businesses in other locations in Golden Valley, Eagan and northeast Minneapolis, it's not uncommon to see three generations of family come in for dinner. 

When they walk in, they see the restaurant's cooks preparing dinner behind a wall of windows. They can also see New Bohemia's sausages lined up for display. 

"We are proud of what we do in our kitchen," Ingram said. "We want you to look in and see everything we do ... We're not like a lot of other restaurants. We make everything from scratch."