By Stefan Modrich
Nearly a month into its reopening, Heights Bier Garten has evolved into a destination for foodies, dog lovers and craft beer snobs alike.
The airy and spacious patio gives you plenty of room to socially distance, and though the Houston humidity may not quite evoke your ideal Oktoberfest setting, its appeal will increase as the fall temperatures gradually decrease. It’s hard to imagine a better brunch spot. (Yes, Heights Bier Garten does indeed have a brunch menu.)
The patio is flanked by two bars, one for wine and beer and another for spirits and cocktails.
Everything from drinks to food is served at the bar, where you’ll find a knowledgeable and social staff that will walk you through their extensive catalog of drinks.
You’ll have to pay multiple visits to make a dent in their 96 beers on tap and 60 house cocktails.
I started with two: the Kaiser Kölsch ($7), a smooth and light blonde brew from Germany. After my taste buds made a quick trip to Europe, they took a U-turn, north on North Shepherd Drive and made a left on 17th Street, where they ran into New Magnolia Brewing Company’s Rufous ($7).
I’m still developing my sour beer palate, but I appreciated the tart raspberry flavor of the Rufous and it was nice to have two different flavors to pair with my meal — more on that in a bit.
I gave the bartender simple instructions: to pour me two of the most different-tasting beers he could find. On that front, he came through, and to have enjoyed them both was a bonus. I’d prefer the Kaiser or something like it, given the opportunity to only choose one.
Interestingly, the hype and the endorsement the same bartender gave me raised the expectations dramatically when it came to the Smoked Pit Beef sandwich. I can’t print what he said, but if you look up what former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich said about the U.S. Senate seat vacated by former President Barack Obama, that will give you the gist of it.
Anyway, it’s pastrami on Texas Toast with cabbage, melted provolone cheese and Heights Island dressing. And it is indeed golden.
I don’t think I could have found a better marriage for the Smoked Pit Beef than the pretzel, which comes with Creole Mustard and salted butter. I found myself dipping the pastrami in the mustard, and I could easily see it as a condiment for a pastrami-centered appetizer or any number of dishes.
And it must be one of the most rewarding feelings in the symbiotic relationship between the restaurateur or barkeeper and the customer, the sense that you’ve just barely scratched the surface of how exciting and adventurous a well-conceived menu can be.
Heights Bier Garten
Address: 1433 N. Shepherd Drive #1
Hours: 3 p.m.-midnight Monday-Wednesday, 3 p.m.-1 a.m. Thursday-Friday, 11 a.m.-1 a.m. Saturday, 11 a.m.-midnight Sunday
Dining Options: Dine-in, delivery via Grubhub
Entrée prices: $8-$11
Senior discount: No
Healthy options: Roasted Cauliflower ($8), Watermelon Cucumber Salad ($8)
Star of the show: Smoked Pit Beef