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Jan 13, 2009 11:36 AM

Organic Beer Garden f/k/a Little Kraut

Has anybody been there since the reinvention? We were given a git certificate several weeks ago and I figure, given the state of the Red Bank restaurant scene, it's better to use it sooner than later. What should we expect? Is the food any good or should I just drink a lot of beer?


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  1. Have not been there, but for what it's worth, here is the website:

    1. Attempted to go on a Friday evening late last year. The place was locked with no note on the door. No answering machine message.
      I suggest you make sure they are really open.

      1. Mighty underwhelming response! Nevertheless, if I can convince the Mrs. to get on a train in this cold, I am more than ready for some free $7 beer. (I wonder if an organic hangover is more enjoyable than one laden with chemicals?)

        I am fascinated with the fact that "Roasted Christmas Goose" is on the menu. It puzzles me, however, as a cook. So to the professionals out there - How do you do this? Do they really roast a couple of geese? I can't imagine they would go through too many in a night, but I can't imagine that they could roast an entire bird. I suppose I will ask when I get there, but I was hoping to get opinions.

        I am editing my post, because I can't help but wonder if it is weird that I have a craving for goose today (truth be told I've been thinking about it since I looked at the menu, but still . . .)

        2 Replies
        1. re: MGZ


          The original owner of Fritzy's, the German restaurant in Howell, always had goose on the menu for several weeks during the Christmas season. We tried to make it our business to have it each year. Fritzy did actually roast the geese in their entirety. He then cut them in half, and each half constituted an extremely generous serving per customer. In addition, the plate was laden with several sides. Plus, there was the most delicious gravy as well. We feasted on as much of it as we could without bursting, and took doggie boxed the rest.

          To say that I miss Fritzy's, which had some of the best German cuisine around, is a severe understatement. But the man worked hard for many years and deserved to retire. He sold the place, but all reports were that the food was never anything near the same high quality. No suprise, then, that it closed.

          Now that I think about it, The Little Kraut also had goose on the menu. But it was so long ago that we had it there -- or, for that matter, had been to the place at all -- I can't recall the particulars. There was a time back in the day when TLK was a top-notch restaurant serving excellent German cuisine at, I might add, quite upscale prices.

          I'll be interested to hear what you think of this re-invention. I'm hoping it will be a positive experience, not only for your sake, but also because I'd love to once again have a good German restaurant in the area.

          1. re: RGR

            That's kind of from where my trepidations stem. I would imagine that goose as a seasonal speciality would be more likely to be popular - as you note, a once a year thing. I have made the mistake of ordering roast fowl before and would up with an obviously reheated and dried out bird.

            Oh well, it looks like I will find out on sunday.

        2. Well, we finally managed to make it to dinner at the Oak Bridge Tavern. As you will learn from the following review, it was, at best, a lukewarm experience.

          First off, although the name has changed, it is still the Little Kraut on the inside, which, honestly, is kind of cool (in a "wow, it's been twenty years since I’ve been here and it's somehow familiar” way). We arrived shortly after they opened and the hostess-waitress-bartender told us we could sit wherever we liked. The music, though not particularly loud, struck both of us.

          “You don’t hear Tom Waits in restaurants very often,” my wife observed.

          Having spent 45 minutes on the train to get there, we were in no hurry. The beer list, though designed for quality and not quantity, is excellent. A taddy porter and a cider to start – Wonderful!

          Luckily for us, the marble-mouthed vocal stylings of Mr. Waits continued.

          The menu is the same as it appears on the website, yet we took our time with it. I decided to start with the goulash and an alt bier, each was tasty and well-presented. My wife had the spinach salad – pretty standard fare, fresh mushrooms, tangy honey mustard dressing.

          We returned our attention to deciding on entrees, dumbfounded by the fact that that gnarled voice continued to fill the air. I had pretty much accepted some time ago that I would try the goose, so after a general inquiry concerning its preparation, that’s what I excitedly ordered. I selected a potato dumpling and the Bavarian cabbage as my sides. The Mrs. ordered the pork tenderloin prepared in the Calvados-style (apples and Bavarian cream) and selected red cabbage and spaetzle in brown butter sauce to accompany it.

          At this point, we were still the only people in the restaurant. A guy had stopped in to ask directions to the Sienna Grill, but that was just awkward. We waited and finished what remained of our beers.

          “Hey, didn’t Rod Stewart cover this song?”

          As the minutes dragged on, our server busied herself in the bar, almost unwilling to engage us. I was very much looking forward to the dopplebock I was waiting to order. My wife sought to replace her empty glass with one of the hefe weizen on the menu. We saw the waitress enter the kitchen more than once – emerging empty-handed each time.

          “Good god, could they be playing the box set or something?”

          Finally she came over, took our order, and returned with the beers. Moments later, our dinner plates were placed before us.

          For those of you who have suffered through this missive waiting to hear about the goose, I assure you it was the best thing on either plate. That was probably because it was the only thing on either plate that was hot! Otherwise, it was clearly reheated and over-sauced. My wife’s pork, which was more of a boneless chop than the pounded tenderloin filet we had anticipated, was seemingly cooked to an internal temp around 180 before it was left to cool in its puddle of cold cream sauce. Simply trying to cut the meat was arduous, I kept expecting her plate to fly across the table. The spaetzle were not only cold, but also dry and nearly devoid of any butter.

          We don’t send food back – it’s basically a standing rule. Besides, given the fact that the goose was already reheated and the pork so dreadfully overcooked, I saw no way the kitchen could resuscitate either.

          “Oh well, at least the music stopped.”

          We declined desert and coffee and our check was presented. Insult to injury – it was just shy of $100, I was going to have to go out of pocket for the tip! We prepared for our return to the cold outside and headed for the door, but not quickly enough to avoid the return of that wrenching voice.

          “Got no time for the corner boys . . . “

          6 Replies
          1. re: MGZ

            Your notes were fun to read. Sorry your experience wasn't more enjoyable.

            1. re: MGZ

              Is it now called Oak Bridge Tavern or Organic Beer Garden?

              BTW, I for one would be impressed with the Tom Waits box set myself, loud or otherwise. But good tunes can't fix the food.

              1. re: aklein

                I think it's the Oak Bridge Tavern on the inside, and if it lasts long enough to still be open when the weather improves, the outside will be the Organic Beer Garden.

                1. re: MGZ

                  I hope so. I really don't like any of the mineral or metallic beers... :-)

              2. re: MGZ

                I walked in to this place last Friday night and asked what beers they have on tap. The reply was sorry we only sell only bottle beer. This is not a beer garden by any strech ...

                1. re: MGZ

                  I have to agree, don't waste the over $100 that you'll probably spend. The beers were excellent and that's it. I ordered Wiener Schnitzel and it was not only lukewarm but tough and served with spaetzle which was totally inedible ....being hard and crunchy...I have been to Germany/Austria many times and always order it and it was nothing like it. Sorry...No one in my party was happy with their meal including my 8 year old grandson and he'll eat just about everything...the service was horrible, taking forever to get our meal...though the waiter was sweet but didn't know anything about the menu and what was on it...

                2. The Oak Bridge Tavern is closed. They have an ad in the press today that they're liquidating the contents.

                  Bridge Tavern
                  54 Watchung Ave, North Plainfield, NJ 07060