pretty much what we have at Wolff’s Biergarten, although the
emphasis seems to be more on beer and television. And fussball—owner
Matt Baumgartner conceived the place as a German-style beer
hall, complete with several screens offering soccer matches
from around the world. It’s in the warehouse-sized space that
housed the short-lived nightclub Noche, now done over to look
like an outdoor garden, complete with picnic tables, hanging
lights and phony trees.
already struck gold with Bombers Burrito Bar on Lark Street
and, more recently, in Schenectady. When the Broadway space
opened up, “I was looking for a concept that would make the
best use of it,” he says. “One side of my family is German,
and I’ve made several trips to that country and enjoyed the
food and beer and the way it’s served, so it seemed like the
right thing to try.”
of the equation also was a casual, friendly environment. “A
place with no pressure,” he says. “It’s self-serve, so you
get your food when you want and can just spend time with your
there’s an impressive beer selection that includes German,
Czech and Belgian varieties on tap, including lagers, pilsners
and several wheat and dark brews. They’re sold in half- or
full-liter mugs—or a 10-ounce taste (at least, it’s a mere
taste for me). The bottled selection ranges even further through
the aforementioned countries, especially in its Belgian offerings.
Order at the bar, and then sit there and enjoy your suds,
if you like, while watching soccer on TV. Or find yourself
a table, as I did, shuffling through the peanut shells to
an available bench.
the menu items is a wurst plate ($9) that gives you two sausages
with mashed potatoes and sauerkraut. Choose from a regular
foursome: Bratwurst, Weisswurst, Knockwurst or a Frankfurter,
and there’s also a wurst of the week, in this case a cheddar
Bratwurst. (Too many years of high-school German class has
me diligently capitalizing all Nouns, which I shall forthwith
your order at a counter halfway back where you’ll get enthusiastic
suggestions as you consider the options. Being traditionalists,
we went for the wurst plate with a thick bratwurst and its
smoky cousin, a log of knockwurst. Among the specials when
I visited was the aforementioned Kasseler Rippchen
($13), a preparation of smoked and brined pork chops, here
served with red cabbage and homemade spaetzle. So that became
entrée number two. A bowl of tomato bisque ($4), and we were
the presentation unpretentious is to favor it with formality.
Stuff comes on plastic plates and/or chowhouse cardboard containers.
The wurst plate featured its feature snuggled side by side
between a mound of mashed and sauerkraut ditto, all of it
pleasant and unremarkable. Similarly, the two pork chops perched
atop a generous pile of noodles, potatoes on the side.
don’t want to underrate the work of chef Jeff Ruff. Good spaetzle
is tricky to make, and the pork chops need a time-consuming
preparation. Other menu items include currywurst—sausages
served in curry sauce, one of those oddball assimilative dishes
every country’s cuisine seems to sport ($10), fleischkase
(a meatloaf of corned beef, bacon and onions, $9), zigeuner
(goulash over spaetzle, $10), and, for the timid, sliders
(a trio of little cheeseburgers with fries, $9) and homemade
macaroni and cheese ($7). And Ruff courageously offers roasted
(bacon-enhanced) Brussels sprouts ($5) as one of several sides.
pointed to the condiments array when we ordered—it’s at the
back of the dining room—but neglected to arm ourselves with
anything when we picked up our fare. This was noted when one
of the staffers stopped by our table to check up on us. “You
should try some gravy with the pork chops,” he said, adding,
“and there’s mustard for the wursts.” Even before I could
lumber out of my seat, he was back with a container of each.
specials include several sandwiches priced from $5 to $9,
fillings including schnitzel (a pork cutlet, which is traditional),
ham (as a fleischsalat), ham and swiss—and hot dogs.
And a Reuben. Brunch is a fairly big deal, a Saturday- Sunday
all-day event with many styles of pancakes in addition to
waffles, wursts and more.
ahead? “The World Cup is a very big deal for us,” says Baumgartner.
“We’re looking into the best way to celebrate this—maybe with
a tent and projection TV.”
my carousing days far behind and a lamentable ignorance of
sports, I rarely think to seek out a beer-and-TVs place for
a meal. But the friendliness of Wolff’s definitely has won