In 2011, Allan Suddaby spent time in Austria, where he became quite fascinated with sausage making and the curing of meats, or, "traditional pork preparations," he says, "that trendy folks back home were calling 'nose-to-tail.' "
Between then and now, he met Nate Box of District, Little Brick et al and was hired on as executive chef of Elm Catering.
The notion of a fast-casual, 'New Bavarian' restaurant tugged at Box's German heartstrings, and several months, notepad scribbles, and recipe testings later, the doors to Salz, a place for beer and bratwurst, opened in the Oliver neighbourhood just west of Edmonton's downtown core.
True to Bavarian and Austrian form, there is a pragmatic approach to procedure here. Orders are placed at the till and brought to customers at a long chipboard table or at a window-facing counter. Customers sit on stools, eat sausages and drink beer — some things should be just as simple as that.
The menu is handled with the same approach to efficiency.
Brat and beer
There are three types of house-made bratwurst: the classic brat — an all-pork sausage with garlic and black pepper for seasonings; the spicy Hungarian — a pork-and-beef mixture flavoured with hot paprika and marjoram; and the käsekrainer, a pork sausage mixed with Sylvan Star gouda.
You can choose to have your brat on a plate ($14) with a salad, a side, and a splotch of sauerkraut and mustard, or on a bun ($11) with potato chips and pickles.
Beginners might want to start with the classic for an introduction to Suddaby's style of bratwurst, but my recommendation would be the käsekrainer, because a cheese-stuffed sausage in a sausage-stuffed bun is as good as a no-muss-no-fuss meal gets.
The käsekrainer at Salz is presented in true Viennese style, whereby a section of baguette is hollowed out and filled with sauce and sausage, making it easy to walk and eat at the same time — handy when you want to stroll the streets and take in wonderful architecture, fountains, and string quartets playing Mozart.
Staying true to Austria
None of that happens on 115th Street in Edmonton, but still, I like that he's staying true to Austrian form.
Of the three salads, it's the tomatoes dressed in a rich and nutty Styrian pumpkin seed oil that gets my attention. The assortment of Gull Valley tomatoes are as beautiful in appearance as they are on the palate, and it's heartening to taste summer still, in this little pile of dark green, orange and crimson spheres.
The potato salad is done in a German style — that being skinless, yellow potato chunks dressed in a honey mustard vinaigrette and seasoned with red onion and dill. Those not keen on the heavily mayonnaised salads typically offered will find this a refreshing change.
The slaw is a simple mixture of cabbage lightly coated with a honey mustard dressing and sprinkled with caraway and celery seeds. Simple, but still intriguing.
Three sides round out the food menu: a "loaded potato" soup with all the rich flavours you'd expect from such; a round of bread topped with a cheese and paprika spread called Liptauer, and spätzle, a mound of gorgeous house-made dumplings that remain delicate despite being doused in a creamy cheese sauce.
Of course, no brat would be complete without its quaffable counterpart, beer, and at present Salz's rotation of German-style Alberta craft brews are those from the Coulee Brew Company, Folding Mountain, Brauerei Fahr, and Situation Brewing.
Like Nate Box's grandmother used to say, "essen und groß wachsen" (eat and grow big). Salz is located at 10556 115th St. Current hours of operation are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday.