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German In Westchester: Went to them all Yesterday

  • b

Bobby Goulash and I spent yesterday on a field trip to determine the viablity of the various German joints in Westchester Co. vicinity. Our object was to find a hearty Bavarian place that had all the hunters lodge trappings, multiple German beers on tap and of course good German fare. To put this in perspective, our standard bearer here in NYC is Zum Stanstitch (sp? You'll have to excuse my spelling of German words.) in Queens which we feel is the best in the City bar none. The results of our investigation in the north country were as follows:

Taconic Brauhaus, Hawthorne: Closed/Reopened as another kind of venue.

Franzl's, Valhalla: Still there, small and very unassuming to look at. Dowdy perhaps. Closed even though the sign said it should be open.

Travelers Rest, Ossining: Opposite of Franzl's: large, fancy place, like for weddings, one of which was taking place while we were there. We surveyed the menu and it was replete with about eight German meals in addition to standard American fare. Prices were high, $25 to $30 for entrees. No Bavarian atmosphere or bar to speak of. You'd feel uncomfortable here wearing jeans and sneakers, so we headed to our next target.

Jennifer's Restauarant, : Small and dowdy, like Franzl's, but open. We sat at the miniscule bar (3 stools) and had some very good Spaten Octoberfest, which was the only beer on tap. No hunting lodge decor, just ticky-tacky souvenirs. Waitresses in dirndls. The staff were nice enough, and the menu seemed to run the gamut of traditional fare at reasonable prices. But we had one more to go. When we left, a number of cars were pulling up in succession, so it seemed to hav a following.

Black Forest Inn, Rt. 32, Woodbury (not far from Woodbury Commons): This was more like it. Right decor, right bar area, right prices, right menu. I had the wurst platter, which came with a choice of various sides - I had the homefries, salad and corn on the cob. Bobby Goulash finally settled on the saurbraten. We both had an onion soup to start - two thumbs up. The rest was probably above average and if in the area I would go again and explore other parts of the menu, like the goulash and jagerschnitzl. If one was drawn to Woodbury Common, say, so that one person could shop, the other person could dash over for some suds and schnitzl at the bar.

That's it, we only hit five places, which is all that our research turned up. Anybody know of any others places - whether in the City or in the Tri State area - or have other input, we'd love to hear it.

Brian Brauts

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  1. Hi, Brian--

    Thanks for the great post. Your title made me laugh because it exemplifies the chowhound experience. I don't know of any that you missed, but hopefully someone will chime in if there are any. And if you make if back to Franzl's, be sure to post and let us know how it is.

    1. Brian,

      Thanks for all the "field research." I'll have to try Black Forest when I'm in the area.

      I grew up in Ridgewood, so I've been to all the Queens spots, most of them dozens of times over several decades. I have to agree with you about Zum Stantisch. Although it has gotten inconsistent in the past few years, it's still an A-minus on its best nights--definitely the best choice in the area, and probably in the entire city. The same can't be said of nearby Gebhardt's. It's still capable of a decent bauernschmaus, but it has suffered since the change of ownership. (And don't even think about the "new Gebhardt's", in New Hyde Park--poor food, worse service.)

      I haven't been to Niederstein's in a long time, though relatives tell me it's still worth an occasional trip, especially for the kässler rippchen. I really miss Sammet's. Anyone else remember that place--corner of Menahan and Onderdonk?

      I'd be curious to know of any authentic German spots that the 'Hounds have enjoyed in Nassau County. I haven't tried any since moving out here a few years ago.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Peter Hirdt

        Hi Peter,
        I grew up in Ridgewood and it still holds a (very) fond place in my heart.

        My husband and I still enjoy going to Zum Stamm Tisch - love their goulash soup and jaeger schnitzel. We especially like their warm, cozy bar - a comfortable place to have a few brews and meet some nice people.

        Sammet's on Onderdonk is where we had our rehearsal dinner the night before our wedding - it brings back very fond memories!

        Annie

        1. re: Peter Hirdt
          b
          Brian Brauts

          Peter: On LI, Plattdeusche Park in Franklin Square seems like the real deal, from their website. Live bands, Octoberfest, etc. 1132 Hempstead Turnpike,
          Franklin Square, NY 11010 Tel.: 516-354-3131 Fax: 516-354-4990 That's where Bobby Goulash and Brian Brauts are headed next (well, except for a repeat trip this Thursday to Boehmian Hall in Astoria), but if you get to Plattdeusche Park first, please report.

          1. re: Brian Brauts

            We tried unsuccessfully to get to Plattdeusche Park after NYT review last summer/fall. Has anyone been? Would love to hear all about it!

        2. I grew up with the influences of an Austrian grandfather, so German food is very much family food memories. However, I never remember having onion soup! Could you describe it--I can't imagine a French onion type soup at a very German spot; am I wrong? Or is it a creamy version, which might make more sense. Danke!

          3 Replies
          1. re: berkleybabe
            b
            Brian Brauts

            Hi, BerkleyBabe:

            Bobby Goulash and I have found that many German places have a smattering of french food. Escargot are common, for some reason, in the appetizer section. Perhaps it's the derth of German appetizers, for that section of the menu is usually crowded with decidedly American fare, so it seems like the Krauts didn't traditionally include that course in a meal. That said, I can see how many of the ol' faves could be modified to make appetizers. For example, they could make cocktailfrank sized brauts, or little schnitzl's on rounds of black bread, etc. Alas, they don't, not so far as we've seen.

            Brian Brauts

            1. re: berkleybabe

              So tell me about the onion soup--French, in a crock or something different? Thanks for the info on apps--interesting, maybe a throwback to '60's "gourmet"dining?

              1. re: berkleybabe
                b
                Brian Brauts

                Hi, BB:

                It was like FOS in a cup rather than bowl or crock: dark onion-filled broth with cheesey bread round floated on top, though not melted in place with Jarlsberg as is oft customary. Rather good, though I still prefer with molten cheese.

                BB

            2. We're looking for a German restaurant to go to for Octoberfest. Has anyone been to or know anything about the Log Cabin Restaurant in Sussex, N.J. and it seems that they have a website at http://www.gasthaus.com

              Also, have found info on Schwäbische Alb
              142 Washington Valley Rd,Warren, NJ,(908)356-2122

              and Rolf's, 65 Sterling Rd,Warren NJ,(908)754-5500

              Anyone know anything about these places? Thanks!

              2 Replies
              1. re: Nizza

                Nizza-

                Rolf's has a great Sunday Brunch, pretty international from French Toast to smoked fish, including cake and soft ice for dessert ($16 including a glass of champagne). Haven't been there during the week yet.

                Also, there is another Black Forest Inn, on Route 206, North from Stanhope (Exit 25 on Rt 80). They have good, Swabian food, with excellent Maultaschen (sort of Ravioli-like thingies), appetizers and a great selection of German wines. Don't know if the two places are related.

                For German beer, try the restaurant (forgotten the name...) in Sparta, NJ. Opposite the lake boardwalk is a nice Bierstube, where they use beer in some of their food, two.

                1. re: Mathias

                  Thanks for the info - I have passed the one in Stanhope and will try now try it.

                  I've been off line and been watching television keeping up with all this disaster news. I live in North Jersey and can see the NY skyline and have watched with such a heavy heart for all those poor innocent people and this tremendous loss.

              2. Is Jennifer's the place on 118 south of Yorktown?

                Marie

                1 Reply