Eat the best of the wurst at Bavaria Haus in Bayside Marketplace

Bavaria Haus chef Mike Smerda and food photos by Linda Bladholm for the Miami Herald.

Bayside Marketplace in downtown Miami is quietly beginning renovations of the popular but somewhat dated tourist destination with views of Biscayne Bay. And new restaurants are opening. 

The first is Bavaria Haus, on the second level near Hooters, offering what the owner calls “progressive Bavarian cuisine with a modern twist, inspired by Southern Germany.”

Sure, there are giant salty pretzels with mustard and schnitzels, but there is also crispy grilled pork belly with green lentils and spaetzle, and lamb ragout braised in red wine with grapes served with caramelized carrots and potato strudel. 

Owner Sasha Perisic was born and grew up in Munich, the son of Serbian parents who came to work in an electronics factory in Germany. He often visited Miami on vacation, and nine years ago decided to stay and opened Hofbrau Beer Hall at 934 Lincoln Rd. in Miami Beach (due to close at the end of the year). 

Perisic opened Bavaria Haus in mid-April, partnering with the renowned Hofbrau Munchen Brewery founded in 1589 by Wilhelm V, Duke of Bavaria, to brew beer for Bavarian kings. He hired chef Mike Smerda, who is from Munich and has a master’s degree in culinary arts, had a TV cooking show in Germany and cooked for the FC Bayern Munchen soccer team. He came to Miami four years ago and started a catering company called Kafer (Ladybug).

Get a tall glass of Bavarian Hefeweizen (wheat beer) at an outdoor patio table here to accompany a Black Forest Burger with a beef patty topped with ham, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, fried onions and horseradish sauce, or currywurst, bringing a bockwurst pork sausage in housemade curry sauce with ginger, garlic, honey and curry powder cooked slowly with onions and tomatoes. 

Weisswurste is Munich-style grilled veal-and-pork sausage with sweet mustard, while Rostbratwurst are roasted pork sausages in dark beer sauce with mashed potatoes. Weinerwurst are Vienna-style frankfurters with potato salad, and kalbsbratwurst are grilled veal sausages seasoned with marjoram and served with red cabbage and mashed spuds. Cavapcici are Serbian minced-beef sausages paired with ajvar spread made from roasted red peppers and eggplant and kajmak, similar to clotted cream with a slight tang made from the skin that forms on boiled milk. 

Vegetarians can try the mushroom ragout made with chanterelle, morel, oyster and button mushrooms in creamy riesling sauce with a pretzel dumpling or vegetable strudel. There’s also whole pan-roasted deboned trout with lemon hollandaise and smoked potato; German-style ravioli stuffed with cod, spinach and carrots sautéed in dill butter; and beer-cured salmon on sweet pickled cucumber with sour cream seasoned with lemon zest and crisp rye bread sticks. 

Finish with a large steamed sweet knodel (yeasty dumpling) with plum butter topped with poppy seeds resembling caviar. Guten appetit!

Linda Bladholm is a Miami-based food writer.