BY MICHELLE WAHLERS
Last Saturday the rain and wind in New York made trekking outside seem down right foolish. However, I couldn’t bear to ask the delivery guy to bring my order of sesame chicken without feeling terrible, so my friends and I packed into a car and headed to Long Island City to Wunderbar, a German grill and Bierhaus.
We took a seat in the corner, away from the long wooden tables that made up the rest of the seating area. Large groups of people were laughing and knocking back beers in huge bier steins. We ordered a few pitchers and began looking through the extensive and authentic menu. Each item had a brief description for those not fluent in German. We started with the vegetable platter, which was comprised of a delicious potato salad, tomatoes, pickles and a string bean salad. The potato salad went very quickly, and was a terrific and encouraging way to start the meal. It was made with red potatoes, with the skin wisely left on which gave the salad an earthy texture, not just a mushy mess. It was made simply, with no unnecessary spices or add ins such as celery. The atmosphere was welcoming, with charming waitresses skipping around, and playing chess with their little brothers on their breaks. We decided on the Roulade (beef stuffed with bacon, onion and pickle) , the brat burger, the “Wunderbar Wunderbar” which consisted of two wurst of your choice, cabbage and string bean salad and the Schweinebraten (pork loin marinated in beer).
Where to begin! The plates come in large portions, and we quickly began dividing the meals since we we overwhelmed by the sizes of the servings, and basically wanted to sample everything on the menu. The brat burger was slathered in a delicious sweet sauce, almost like a curry barbecue sauce. It was a bit messy, but throw a pickle on it and I’m sold. The Roulade was perhaps a bit dry, however the moisture from the onions compensated for that. The “Wunderbar Wunderbar” (my dish!) was exactly what I expected from a place boasting authenticity.. I chose the Bauernwurst and the Spicy Kaisewurst, which was beef and pork and cheddar cheese. The cheese was overwhelming and very, very rich. But the Bauernwurst….spicy and juicy, and when eaten with a scoop of sauerkraut it was exactly what I was hoping for. (Note: I went into this evening not liking sauerkraut, my tune is quite different now!) The Schweinebraten perhaps “won” the evening. The pork was cooked perfectly, and the bier flavor was definitely present. It practically melts in your mouth and is packed with flavor, but not over seasoned. It is a basic (and fantastic) display of pork and beer.
For dessert we ordered a hot pretzel, mostly because I had forgotten to order one at dinner, and I could not leave without trying one. It was served piping hot, speckled with huge salt crystals and dipping mustard on the side. A great end to a feast! The prices run from $5 (cold sandwiches) to $45 (the Wunderbar Haus special which is essentially a sample plate of everything on the menu).
The overall feeling throughout our evening was “When are we coming back?”; it was such fun and although they played “99 Luftballoons” three times while we were there, the music was catchy and everyone was upbeat. The service was great, and the food is exceptional. Needless to say, I am glad I gave the delivery guy a night off.