First Look: Kurt's Bistro

Kurt’s and Vreny’s in Duluth was a neighborhood favorite for over 20 years. Often called a hidden gem, it mixed quirky European country charm with classic German food and a festive beer garden.

But early this year, Kurt and Vreny Eisele and their chef son, Alexander, suddenly announced that they would be “relocating and downsizing to meet the demands of this struggling economy and our own determination to survive.”

The look: Kurt's Bistro opened in March in a strip center on Peachtree Industrial Boulevard. Much more intimate than Kurt's and Vreny's, the new restaurant retains many of the same idiosyncratic flourishes. Auto racing posters cover one wall of the bar area, where a wooden arbor creates a sort of indoor beer garden. The dining room evokes an Old World bistro with plush booths and small tables.

The scene: One weeknight, Vreny was at the host station while Kurt saw to a party at the bar and Alexander popped in and out of the kitchen. Several regulars stopped by, curious about the move and happy to see the jumbo Bavarian pretzel, curry wurst with braised sauerkraut and German-style pork shank were still on the menu.

The menu: Like the space, though, the menu has been pared down. Salads, cold seafood starters and steaks, including a 20-ounce bone-in ribeye ($36) and a 14-ounce dry-aged New York strip ($32), join the likes of chicken scallopini with linguine ($14) and sauteed shrimp with fettuccine ($17). A selection of small plates includes spatzle with double-smoked bacon, mushrooms, cream and melted Emmentaler cheese ($7.70).

The drinks: There's a full bar, but beer and wine are the featured drinks. The draft list is mainly familiar German lagers. Look for Spaten Optimator double bock ($6.50) and bottled Belgian ales, such as Duvel ($7.50) and Gulden Draak ($7.75). House wines by the glass, including sweet and dry rieslings, are priced at $9 to $10, or you can look for a bottle on the cellar list.

The extras: Recently, Kurt's featured a Friday night fish fry for Lent and a special Easter menu. Mother's Day specials, beer and wine dinners and, of course, Oktoberfest celebrations are already in the works.

Dining out

Kurt’s Bistro

4:30-9:30 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays; 4:30-10 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays. Closed Sundays. Bar open late.

Soup, salads, small plates, $7-$12.50; steaks and entrees, $14-$36; sides, $3.50-$4.50.

3305 Peachtree Industrial Boulevard, Suite 100, Duluth, 770-623-4128,