What is Your Pretzel Preference?


[Photographs: Nick Kindelsperger]

The Radler in Logan Square calls itself a "Bavarian restaurant and beer hall," so you better believe there is a pretzel. In fact, the haus pretzel ($6) is the very first dish on the menu, and if guests order them at anywhere near the frequency that they did while I dined there, then I'm guessing that in a given week The Radler serves hundreds of the them. So they must be good, right? Well, that depends on what you want from a pretzel.

If you prefer an airy and light pretzel, slicked with butter and lightly sprinkled with salt, this is your guy. This plate-sized pretzel is meant for dipping. You can purchase mustard, the standard dipping partner, but this one comes with a side of barley malt butter and blackberry jam. Both of which are decent on their own, but what you really want is a bite with both, since the combination ends up tasting like a less sweet version of peanut butter and jelly. And that's a good thing.

But if you like some crispness and perhaps a dark mahogany crust on your pretzel, you might think The Radler's offering is a bit soft. Fortunately, as I found last year, quite a few places are serving pretzels these days, and each has its own particular style. I've long been a fan of Longman & Eagle's extra-crispy offering, which comes with a side of cheesy Welsh rarebit. But I can also see how some might think it goes too far in the other direction.

If you don't like to choose between the styles, there's always the Soft Swabian Pretzel at Table, Donkey and Stick, which has thin and crispy arms, along with a soft base.

What about you? Where do you fall on the pretzel spectrum?