Editors' pick

Schmankerl Stube

$$$$ ($15-$24)

Editorial Review

2009 Fall Dining Guide

By Tom Sietsema
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, Oct. 18, 2009

You don't have to look hard to find a restaurant around here that serves pad Thai, kitfo or seviche. Goulash soup and Black Forest cake, on the other hand? German kitchens are few and far between in the region. Helping to fill the gap is the 21-year-old Schmankerl Stube in Hagerstown, Md., which offers those and other dishes in a warren of cozy dining rooms that suggests you're enjoying a feast in Bavaria. Ja, the waitresses wear dirndls, and ja, the music brings Oktoberfest to mind. Pork is a signature. Try it as a pink smoked loin shored up with lush sauerkraut and tender spaetzle or, better yet, as pork shanks massaged with garlic, caraway and paprika and baked for hours (a Wednesday night special). It's easy to gorge on bread when it comes, as it does here, with a spread made with cream cheese, anchovies and capers. But go easy, because there are herring dressed in sour cream and a wurst (sausage) sampler to check out, too. That Black Forest cake is moist with whipped cream and fueled with drunken cherries, by the way, and though beer is the best way to wet your whistle, I'm charmed by how the wine is dispensed: from an elegant glass carafe supported by a leafy metal stand.