It’s a familiar story: Pig & Turnip started out as a food stand in Eugene but with a stationary location that wasn’t easily accessible. Owner and chef Natalie Sheild decided it was time for a change. The German-inspired cuisine moved in February to its new location at Springfield’s Sprout! Regional Food Hub.
Sprout! is an incubator program that helps local small businesses grow. Pig & Turnip, along with a handful of other restaurants, is nestled in the Sprout! building. You’ll find it just past the courtyard of A Street and through large, heavy-set doors. As soon as you walk in, a barrage of different aromas fills the air.
With traditional options like bratwurst, schnitzel and reubens, the cooks at Pig & Turnip are always open to talking about their specials.
Owner Natalie Sheild is a self-trained chef with experience gained in kitchens that gave her a lot of leniency and on-the-job training, she says. She took German in college and visited the country shortly after graduating. “It was the closest I ever felt to being in Eugene,” Sheild says, “which is the home of my heart.”
“I will always have that memory of eating a bratwurst over a bed of kraut in a castle,” she adds.
Sheild says she went about everything a little backward when it came to starting her business. “We found a food cart,” she says, “and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh. That’s the kitchen I want.’ And then, we bought it and thought, What are we going to do with it?” That essentially brought about the idea for Pig & Turnip.
“I realized there weren’t a lot of places to get really good, locally sourced meats,” Sheild says, “and what better food to do than German?”
The restaurant used to get its meats and sausages from a vendor but now makes all of its sausages in-house after it dawned upon Sheild one day, “I’m a chef. I want to being doing this myself,” she says. “I want to be breaking things down in-house. I want to be tenderizing my own pork loin for our schnitzel.”
The sausages are now made in-house, and Sheild says the brisket is next on the list.
“All of our stuff comes from somebody in town,” Sheild states. That’s where the restaurant gets a bit of its Northwest touch. Whether through produce, the beef used for burgers or bread for buns, Sheild says almost everything they use in their food is locally sourced.
One menu item that has a Northwest feel to it, according to Sheild, is the Karteburger. It’s made with 100-percent grass-fed beef topped with fondue and braised onions on a brioche bun made by Reality Kitchen in Eugene.
|Schnitzel with Fries. Photo by Todd Cooper.|
One bite into the Karteburger and the bun crackles beautifully. The burger is perfectly juicy and packed with fresh vegetables, and it pairs well with the restaurant’s colorful bratwurst topped with a delicious yet not overpowering mustard aioli.
“We have lots of veggie options as well,” Sheild states, “because it’s called Pig and Turnip.” She adds, “During the winter, we have this amazing turnip soup that we serve.” Sheild notes that they also run a lot of specials such as a wild mushroom penne and locally sourced green salad, as well as tomato basil soup and German grilled cheese.
“Eventually, we’d like to expand and have beers on tap,” Sheild states. “Our hope is to get into a pub-like restaurant here in Springfield and one in Eugene.”
And a special note to the gluten-free crowd: “Everything we do is gluten-free friendly,” Sheild says. “Everything is or can be made gluten-free. I have celiac, so I wanted to be able to eat at my own restaurant.”
Pig & Turnip is at 418 A Street in Springfield, and it’s open 11 am to 9 pm Tuesday through Saturday. See pigandturnip.com for more.