So, in deference to trying new things for the blog, as well as G's near constant hunger for good burgers/sandwiches/pub food, we went this week to The Bier Stein here in Eugene. I had been wary of this place, since it reminded me strongly of a fratty bar in my hometown where the food was definitely just ordered to prevent you from puking your guts out on the wide variety of beers they served. You came for the beer, and if you needed to eat, they could help you with that, but few if any went to this other bar for the beer. The Bier Stein and I had to get over this one tiny flaw in our relationship:
I am not a beer drinker. The coolers full of beers were novel, fun to look at, but I was here for the food, and the Bier Stein would have to rise or fall in the review on that basis alone.
But, as it turns out, you don't have to be to find reasons to go to the Bier Stein. This week was cold in Eugene. Windy, rainy, and COLD. It was good soup weather, but I was so busy with work and school that we kept missing our window to go have the delicious ramen at Toshi's, which closes at 3 and reopens at 5.
So, having read around a little at Urban Spoon, I suggested we try the Bier Stein, which features one of my very favorite soups every day of the week. So the Cheese Beer soup was a real draw, and G was amenable, so we went this week.
The First Visit
I ordered a bowl of the cheese beer soup for us to share, and we each ordered a sandwich. I got The Dip, a modified French dip sandwich with caramelized onions and horseradish mayo, grilled panini-style on ciabatta bread. (Minor, grammar snob quibble: a sandwich like this is served au jus, not WITH au jus, which makes no sense.) For my side, I selected the pasta salad, which had looked AMAZING when it came by on someone else's plate. G went with the German sausage sandwich and a side salad.
The soup: Completely amazing, especially on a cold day. Generous portion when you order the bowl, enough that I hardly wanted to knife G for his half.
The Dip: Good. I can't really say that the roast beef was top shelf, but the gooey mess of cheese, onions, and horseradish mayo really overwhelmed any qualms I had about the roast beef.
The Pasta Salad: Bad. Really stunningly disappointingly bad. It was cavatappi pasta with chunks of veggies (Squash, chickpeas, red pepper, zucchini) mixed with pesto. All the elements of good, and yet it tasted like nothing at all. I don't know how that happened, but neither G nor I thought this was at all worthwhile.
German Sausage Sandwich--Sausage itself, mediocre, but actually split and grilled, and served with a delicious mustard that G was raving about.
The Salad: We were both impressed with the blackberry vinaigrette, which was fruity and acidic, over pretty fresh spring greens. A far cry better than the pasta salad.
We liked it well enough that we went twice this week, since yesterday was REALLY cold, and it was 3:05 before we realized how good soup sounded.
The Second Visit
The Soup: Still excellent. Still worth every penny. Wondering if I could eat a whole bowl of it with a side salad as my meal, except that I would miss out on these amazing sandwiches.
The Turkey Club: Not called this on the menu, but you get the idea. Similar to the dip, in that it was a melty, gooey mess of goodness, but this time, I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the turkey. A good sandwich, but for one thing: it would really be improved by the addition of some tomatoes. I was smart this time and had the side salad. Much better.
Final Verdict: Have the soup. Have one of the panini-style sandwiches. Avoid the pasta salad.
Location: 345 E. 11th St, Eugene
Hours: 11:00 AM to 12:00 AM, every day.