The German gastropub on Monroe Street that originally got turned down for a liquor license is set to open in the days after July 4, its owners say.
Jack and Julie Sosnowski along with Stephen Weber are opening Freiburg Gastropub at 2612 Monroe St.
The partners renovated a historic building across from jac's and next to the new Colectivo Coffee.
Weber is also the VP of Operations for the Sosnowskis' company Noble Chef, which runs Rare Steakhouse and a number of State Street businesses.
The gastropub had its liquor license rejected in March after neighbors expressed concern about parking and a backyard patio. The partners scrapped the patio idea and the Alcohol License Review Committee later approved the license.
Jack Sosnowski said an outdoor space would have been a nice addition because there is really nothing like it on Monroe Street. But after a couple of neighborhood meetings and concern about noise, they forfeited the idea.
"Being in the neighborhood, people were concerned with noise, which I get," he said. "It's one of those things. If they saw it they'd probably realize they like it, but I understand the concern."
Regarding parking, the owners are leasing 30 spaces in a chiropractor's office down the street for night-time use.
Freiburg will have only 60 seats and Sosnowski stresses that it will be food-oriented. "It's not going to be a rowdy place by any means."
Christian Behr, who is of German heritage and previously worked at the Avenue Bar and the Old Fashioned, is the executive chef.
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Behr has helped draft the menu and is excited about the restaurant's open concept kitchen, where customers can sit at a counter and watch him work.
The not-yet finalized menu includes items like potato pancakes; doner kebab on homemade flatbread; meatballs in a creamy caper sauce; cucumber and dill soup with rye croutons; honey-braised pork cheeks; herring and roasted beet salad, fresh cucumber and horseradish cream; and Riesling-braised chicken with spaetzle, asparagus and topped with crème fraîche.
Weber promises the best German beer list in Madison and said the restaurant is also sourcing regional wines. "The areas around Freiburg produce some of the most sought after wines in Germany at very friendly prices."
Freiburg is named after Madison's German sister city, and Sosnowski and Weber said they've been amazed by all of the Madison-Freiburg connections they've encountered already. They've heard from many former UW students who studied in Freiburg, and have a Freiburg society ready to meet at the restaurant.
The food scene in Germany is similar to that of the U.S., Weber said, noting that Germans have been doing farm-to-table a lot longer, and more organically, than Americans have.
"Unfortunately in America we associate German food more with places like the Essen Haus -- heavy and greasy concoctions. When the reality is, Germans eat an intensely vegetable-friendly diet that is definitely a healthier diet than the average American eats.
"Our goal at Frieburg is to recreate a contemporary German restaurant here in Madison," Weber said, adding that they will serve many traditional menu items that have been reworked for modern palates.
"Call it the German version of 'nouvelle cuisine'," he said.