Maybe it’s because Schulte & Herr is Portland’s new German restaurant, and everything just sounds so gut.

The next best thing is taking a friend along so you can share plates.

My friend and I visited in the middle of the week, during the midmorning when two or three of the eight tables in this spare restaurant space were open. We grabbed a table for two by the window and perused the simple breakfast menu while waiting for our server to bring us coffee.

I was in the mood for eggs, which left me with the choice of a German-style omelet with potatoes, onions and chives ($7), or a plate of scrambled eggs with toast ($5) with the option of adding caramelized onions, sauteed mushrooms or ham for 75 cents extra. The Belgian waffle with spiced plum-maple syrup ($7) made me, um, waffle, but in the end, I went with the omelet.

I also ordered a side of sausages ($3) for us to share. (You can get double-smoked bacon for the same price, or bratkar kartoffeln — German homefries — for $3.50.)

The eggs came with big chunks of potato, and the toast, thinly sliced but nice and dense, came with real butter. The sausage had actual flavor and was decidedly not greasy, which made both of us wonder if it were homemade like most of the other items on the menu. Our server informed us that the meat came from the Sausage Kitchen in Lisbon Falls.

We also ordered one of the most tempting things on the menu: Potato pancakes served with house-cured lox (cured with orange juice, sugar and salt), horseradish sauce, capers, radish and cornichons ($9).

My friend raved over the house-cured lox, which was plentiful on the plate and light on the tongue. The potato pancakes were crispy on the outside without being greasy or overdone, and soft and creamy inside. Paired with a bite of the salmon, a few bits of radish or capers and a smear of the horseradish sauce, these pancakes were a little bit of heaven.

Our Eat & Run budget buys more at breakfast, but you can still get a modest lunch at Schulte & Herr for around $7 if you mix and match, say, split pea soup with smoked ham ($3 a cup, $4 a bowl) with a side order of roasted winter squash with pumpkin seed oil ($3.50) or German potato salad with cornichons, bacon and red onions ($4).

The lunch plates, served with one side of your choice, are a little more expensive, but still such a bargain for the quality and quantity of food that you’d be crazy not to throw in another fiver and order the beef gulasch with roasted red peppers and pan-fried bread dumplings ($12). Or the roasted bratwurst with sauerkraut and German potato salad.

Why eat an overpriced sandwich and chips in Portland when you can have a hearty, homemade meal at Schulte & Herr for the same cost? It’s amazing that such great food comes out of such a tiny kitchen. (You get a peek at the kitchen space when you pass by it on a visit to the restroom.)

The restaurant also serves Sunday brunch, which features the entire breakfast menu along with a roast option served with dumplings and gravy.

By the time we left, the room had filled with folks coming in for lunch, and there were no tables available. Not surprising, really. I’m already thinking about what I want to try on my next visit.

The Features staff of The Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram anonymously samples meals for about $7.


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