Before I start my review, I have to confess something: I don't like Pils. At least that is to say, I don't like any of the German Pils that I've had (nor any of the American ones for that matter). Sure, I understand the principal of having a neutral or light beer with your food to quench your thirst, but I prefer my alcoholic beverages to complement my food, not just wash it down.
Unfortunately, it seemed like when we moved to Germany a little over three years ago that Pils and Hefeweizen were the only two options. And while I'm still amazed that we've found longer beer lists on our trips abroad, I am pleased to say that Stuttgart, and to some extent Germany, finally seem to be getting on the craft beer wagon.
One place we've been to a couple of times now for their craft beer list is 87 in Bad Canstatt. Still, I don't remember the list being anywhere near as long as when we visited last night. But I'm getting ahead of myself. What first drew us to 87 again this week was not the beer, but rather a burger. Ever since our last Sunday brunch there, I signed up for their monthly newsletter. October's was rather exciting as they promised a Pumpkin Burger special that looked enticing, so Matt booked us a Friday night reservation.
We arrived somewhat early around 7pm, but it was clear that we'd done the right thing by making a reservation as all of the empty tables were already reserved. I think this is in some part due to the restaurant's great location on the edge of Bad Canstatt overlooking the Neckar and its youthful, edgy décor. The amply stocked bar with its wrap-around wooden top might at first seem inviting, but the carpeted clusters of high-backed chairs and low tables further inside offer a more hipster-ish atmosphere. I especially like the mix of earthy wood and cold grey on the walls and tables, along with the industrial lights hanging from the ceiling. I even hear there's a party room downstairs with the kind of exposed brick walls that one sees in Instagram photos of impossibly pricey New York City apartments.
Upon being seated, we quickly flipped back in the menu to the beer list. 87 offers somewhere around 50 beers, mostly from the US, UK, Belgium, and Germany, with a rotating selection of specials and beers on tap. It was really tough for me to make a decision, so I opted for the Tasting Tray with four .1L servings of their four beers on tap: Ayingerz Lager, Berg Brauerei Ulrichsbier, Maisel & Friends Pale Ale, and Crew Republic Drunken Sailer IPA (all German). I didn't care much for the lager or the Ulrichsbier, though the later had a nice maltiness to it. However, I loved both the Maisel & Friends and Crew Republic pale ales with their fruity and flavorful mouth. I have to admit that I've had both before in a bottle, but never before on tap.
For dinner, I order the Pumpkin Burger. In fact, most people in the restaurant seemed to be enjoying a burger. I remember being at 87 about two years ago and having a burger, and though it was tasty, I was not impressed by the patty. This time, however, I was rather pleased to have given it another shot, as I found the meat to very tender, juicy, and clearly fresh. I still think they could press their patties a bit less, but they've got the meat-to-bun proportion down perfectly. My special came served on a pumpkin seed bun that had just the right amount of squish to make the large burger edible. Best of all, it didn't disintegrate as I ate, so that the bread was able to hold the grilled, spiced pumpkin, pumpkin seed and chili aioli, and lettuce. My burger came with homemade potato wedges and a homemade vinegar-based ketchup that was really nicely done, too.
On the other side of the table, Matt had the Pulled Pork Burger with homemade coleslaw and BBQ sauce. While he admitted it wasn't the best pulled pork he'd had in Stuttgart, the combination of fresh bun, coleslaw, and homemade sauce was delicious. Elsewhere on the menu, they listed a number of American-style steaks, jerk chicken, ribs, and even fish-and-chips.
Although I was rather full, I'd been eyeing the Homemade Schokobar all night and decided to go ahead and order dessert. Rather than being like a "chocolate bar" (the literal translation), it was more like a super dense and rich brownie. It paired nicely with the surprisingly tart sour cream and tonka bean ice cream topped with an almond crumble. My favorite, though, was the skewer with toasted marshmallows. Marshmallows are really not my dessert of choice, but there's something about a toasted marshmallow that I just love. Altogether, the dish was a bit like a deconstructed s'more, and I enjoyed it thoroughly.
Matt, who opted for a second beer instead of dessert, ordered the dark, rich Trappistes Rochefort 8. I, not caring that I'd already ordered dessert, decided to take a chance on the Innis & Gunn Oak Aged Ale. Though I've never had anything from this Scottish brewery, I was pleasantly surprised by the honey-colored ale with vanilla and toffee flavors. It had a very light resemblance to a whiskey aged in oak, and paired well with the vanilla flavors of the tonka bean ice cream in my dessert.
Though the night was still young, we didn't stay long. Despite the Stuttgarter Volksfest going on, the restaurant was still quite busy, and so we chose to leave so that some lucky party could have our table next. Before going, we stopped by the little "shop" on the way out to check out their selection of beer for sale by the bottle, which included Brew Dog, Rogue, Fuller's, and even Sam Adams. I'm sure we'll be back to stock up soon. And though our focus on this occasion was most definitely beer, I'm very interested by their inventive cocktail list, including the "Helsinki Tea Mule" and "Cowboy's Lemonade".
87 is located in Bad Canstatt just across the bridge from the Mercedesstrasse U-bahn station. They're open every evening from 5pm until around midnight. They also have a great buffet-style brunch from 10am until 3pm every Sunday (last time they had a delicious beer and cheddar soup with the buffet). You can make reservations online. I also highly recommend that you sign up for their newsletter so you can hear about their monthly burger and beer specials, as well as their frequent "beer seminars" and other special events.