The Living Moss Wall

Krueger's Tavern

· · Joanne Drilling · Jan 7 2015 ·

The brothers Lanni (of The Eagle and Bakersfield fame) are at it once again, this time with a German-influenced homage to canned beer. Yup, not a draft handle in sight at 1211 Vine Street in the space that once housed OTR trailblazer Lavomatic. In fact, the décor is a startling contrast not only to its previous tenant but from most of the neighborhood, which is largely rehabbed with cookie cutter glass store fronts, exposed industrial elements, and large scale windows, forcing tenants to improvise where they can. Step inside Krueger’s cool interior and forget where you are for a moment. The moody darkness is intensified by deeply hued wood covering floor, wall, ceiling, and tables—all eventually driving the eye directly to the large-scale, living moss installations that line the walls above banquettes on both the ground and second floors. The bartender insisted they were alive, yet “frozen” to keep them in suspended animation for up to five years. I resisted the urge to reach out and touch, lest I harm the moss. I soon noticed that at least a dozen others didn’t share my concern: Five years might be pushing it.

Named after the first brewing company to put beer in cans, Krueger’s Tavern offers plenty of cans of its own—think local loves Rhinegeist, and MadTree, as well as everything from PBR to Belhaven stout, and Jackie O’s Mystic Mama. Nibbles follow Teutonic tastes with plenty of tasty house-made sausages like Jagerwurst with braised red cabbage and grainy mustard and devilishly addictive beer cheese (kept warm over a tea light) served with baguette and rye bread cubes for dipping. While the ubiquitous burger (albeit, a Pat LaFrieda blend) and oddly au courant Cubano sandwich are present, so is an arugula salad topped with Chicken Schnitzel. Cocktail fans better like gin or beer—both are the basis for all eight of Krueger’s signature drinks. In this weather, I tend towards something a little warmer and bourbon-based, but their list is sure to be a hit on that killer rooftop patio. And that’s just a few…months…away.

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