I am on a hunt to find the best pretzels and beer cheese in Louisville. I’m looking for salty, soft and warm pretzel bread—the kind that will leave your fingers greasy with butter—and warm, slightly spicy beer cheese as dip. I will say that I have spent time in Bavaria, I have been to Oktoberfest in Munich, and I’ve even walked through the original Hofbrau Haus there. But soft pretzels and beer cheese, as far as I can tell, is an Americanized dish. In my time spent there, I can recall eating pretzels, but they were not served warm, were actually not all that soft, and definitely were not served with beer cheese. They were more like the rolls you get before a meal.
But since Zeppelin remains closed over on Burnett Avenue—and if I recall correctly, they had a great pretzel and beer cheese combo, if it was a bit on the expensive side near their end—I have yet to find a truly great dish.
Over at BBC, the beer cheese was great, but the pretzels were disappointing. This is surprising to me because every other thing I’ve ever tired there is delicious—burritos, pizza. Heck, even their Italian roast beef sandwich is great and it’s served on a pretzel bun! So when the waiter presented their appetizer, we were confused. We even had to send back the first batch – they were burnt on the outside and somehow cold on the inside. The next batch was cooked correctly, but tasted like funnel cake. Yes, you read that correctly. Funnel cake. We enjoyed the rest of our meal, but unfortunately the carnival pretzels went mostly uneaten.
A week or two later, we trekked to Four Pegs, a local beer pub within walking distance of my house. Their beer list is impressive, the décor and menu is intriguing, but their pretzel/beer cheese recipe, pictured above, fell flat. The pretzels looked like breadsticks. There was no discernible salt, save for one very salty clump. And the cheese—it had a decent flavor, although perhaps with too much garlic (and I like garlic). All those little specks in the cheese? Garlic. The main problem with the cheese was its texture—it was too stiff and thick, and the pretzels were too soft and squishy. I’m sure you can add up the issue with that.
Again, at Four Pegs everything else we ordered was great. One person raved about the maple mayo, another one enjoyed the fish, and we saw many diners looked pleased with their choice of the chicken and waffle sandwich, though we were not quite brave enough to try that on this visit.
So why is it so difficult to pull off a great pretzel and beer cheese combination? Is it because most places focus more on their entrees than the appetizers? Simple dishes are tougher to manage? I don’t have an answer here, but I will continue my search locally.
BBC: 3/5 Four Pegs: 1/5
Photo by me