By Sara Newberry
It’s exciting to see poorly-used centers get revitalized and become neighborhood destinations instead of sad empty eyesores. It started a few years ago at the intersection of Garland and Peavy with Goodfriend, 20 Feet and now Hello Dumpling and GAPC.
Now White Rock Center at the corner of Lake Highlands and Buckner is undergoing a similar transformation. El Vecino and Le Caveau joined the long-standing Green Spot there, and now District 9 Draught Haus has opened its doors in the center, providing yet another beer-centric hangout along the lines of Goodfriend (but with better parking) and White Rock Alehouse & Brewery (but with a smaller and more focused menu).
District 9 (named for the city council district it’s located in, not the South African alien movie from a few years ago) uses the classic German beer hall as its inspiration, from the rustic/industrial decor to the meat-and-cheese-laden food menu. (You won’t find any salads at District 9, but you’ll be so happy with the options you do have, you might not mind.)
The majority of the small menu is made up of sandwiches, ranging from sausage on a pretzel bun to a Rueben or a Portobello sandwich with vegan aioli. There are also a couple of sides, a charcuterie board and a couple of desserts as well, if you need sweets with your beer. I’ve said it before, but I think it bears repeating: I’d rather see a menu with 10 well-prepared options than a large menu with lots of hits and misses.
We tried a few of the sandwiches on a recent visit and the only issue we found was deciding which one we liked better. The weisswurst is exactly what you might expect, a mildly-flavored pork sausage with not a ton of character. But there are herbs in the sausage that add a little color and it’s served on a beautifully crisp and chewy pretzel bun that puts the more commonly found sad, rubbery pretzel buns to shame.
A Rueben is not quite as spectacular as the Brewben at WRAB, but it definitely gives it a run for its money. (It’s as though they tried that one, then scaled it down to better fit the size of the room.)
From the perfectly griddled marble rye to the tender, salty corned beef, it’s messy and satisfying, just as a good Rueben should be.
The grilled cheese sandwich could have been a letdown — I mean, it is a grilled cheese — but the mix of cheeses and toasty, slightly greasy sourdough bread is the grilled cheese that we should all aspire to. (What if there were a creamy, delicious tomato soup alongside? I’m not sure I could handle it, but I’d be willing to try.)
Potato pancakes are not like the latkes you might expect; in fact, they are unlike any potato pancakes I’ve ever tried. More like a soft pancake with potatoes added than a crispy disc of shredded potatoes, they are the owner’s mother’s recipe.
The addition of Gruyere and an amazing dipping sauce pushes them into the stratosphere. (That sauce turned out to be a mix of sour cream and crushed gingersnaps. I want to put it on everything.)
The atmosphere is friendly and, at times, can be a little harried, but the crowd always seems to be in good spirits. The staff sometimes comes across as a little bewildered by the crowds of people who have flocked to their little place, but I’ve not felt unwelcome. We’ve already witnessed at least two birthday parties taking place, so it’s clearly already a few locals’ go-to place. I foresee spending a few celebrations of my own there in the near future.
District 9 Draught Haus
718 N. Buckner Blvd.
Tuesday – Thursday
Friday and Saturday
Sunday noon – 8 p.m.