When it comes to meat and cheese, there are some seriously good eats in Milwaukee. And where there is good meat and cheese, you will find great German restaurants nearby. If you are looking for Old World German with gigantic beer steins, mounted deer heads, and waitresses dressed like the St Pauli Beer gir,l you need to look no further than Karl Ratzsch’s.
Started in 1904 by Otto Ratzsch (doesn’t get more German than this), it has continued to provide delicious German dishes to Milwaukee natives. I am not talking about lame-ass curry fries, either. You have your schnitzel, rouladen, sauerbraten, and of course, my favorite, THE SHANK, or as I call it, der Shanken.
Innocuously referred to as the Crackling Pork Shank, it is described as a crispy tender hachse, which is the lower portion of the pork leg. Served bone-in, it is a massive block of meat, and somehow, the knife stuck into adds a layer of drama.As if the pork shank wasn’t enough food, it is served with sauerkraut, potato dumpling, and side of pan gravy that you can use to drench whatever you want. I wanted to rub it all over my body, but it seemed like a classy restaurant, so I refrained from doing so. Since they cook this with the skin on, it has a wonderful crunch to it, like when you eat pork cracklins or chicharrones. The meat underneath is tender, juicy, and has a very rich pork flavor.
We had some other things to eat that night, but I have no clue to as what they were. It was like a drunken one night stand – you only get left with one memory, but oh, what a memory. And just like a one night stand, I was left with a burning sensation, but here it was inside my stomach. I had the absolute worst heartburn since I mixed Cheez Whiz with Flaming Hot Cheetos and Twinkies.
If you are planning to eat dinner at Karl Ratzch’s have a good time and get the shank, but play it safe and have some remedy close by when you go to sleep that night like Pepto (refrigerated), Tums, or Alka Seltzer. You will thank me in the morning.
Bill total – 1 entree, 1 cocktail, 1 soft drink, tax, and tip = around $50