Wolff's Biergarten, Albany
Wolff's opened yesterday for regular service (I think they've been in soft opening for a week or so), and I met my daughter there for lunch. Basically a garage space, in the Albany warehouse district, next to the Miss Albany Diner. Order your food at the order-your-food counter, then your drink at the long bar. Good selection of German/Czech/Belgian beers on draft and in bottles, some wines. Menu had a selection of wursts, frankfurters, knackwurst, currywurst, weisswurst (knackwurst was good, served with sauerkraut and German potato salad. We sampled potato pancakes, spaetzle, brussels sprouts, and cucumber salad, spent about $30 for too much food. They call your name, and you take your food to communal long tables; good classic rock on the soundtrack. Recommend.
895 Broadway, Albany, NY
We visited this past week for the first time as well. Within our group, we sampled just about everything -- several types of wursts (even the vegetarian tofu version), rahmschnitzel (breaded veal cutlet doused with a cream/mushroom gravy), slider burgers, fleishkase (meatloaf), etc. Favorite item was the spatzle (small pieces of dough, boiled then sauteed in butter -- similar to pieces of thick pasta) which tasted very homemade. Rahmschnitzel was a bit tough but flavorful. Communal-style dining on wooden tables atop the sawdust covered floor was fun, as was the atmosphere in general. But the classic rock threw our group for a loop. Wouldn't classic German oomp-pah-pah music, or at least a sprinkling of German tunes here and there, be a better fit?
We hit the new Wolff’s Biergarten (right next to Miss Albany Diner) with a bunch of friends last night. The owner, who also owns Bombers, must have hit a nerve – the place was slammed! Luckily the group had managed to wrangle some table space when I arrived. I wouldn’t normally write about a place this soon, but I really have nothing bad to say. Admittedly, German food isn’t totally my thing, and I am not a huge beer drinker, but I had a good time, and if you like this kind of thing, this is the kind of place you will REALLY like. Communal picnic tables, peanut shells on the floor, soccer on the TVs, ping pong and darts leagues, tons of tasty beers and food to strain your zipper. You order at the open kitchen area and pay (cash only.) When the order is up they yell your name, or, if it gets too loud in the place, employ a bullhorn. On the other side is a long bar where you order drinks (no table service.) Our group had a good selection of the various options – bratwurst, weiswurst, fleischkase as well as the ubiquitous sliders for our less-daring companion, and side orders of roasted brussels sprouts, spatzle and potato pancakes. The wursts came with sauerkraut, "German" mashed potatoes (with hefty amounts of bacon and garlic) and an indifferent roll. The fleischkase came with what I think were sweet potato fries (I didn’t have any but they looked to be that color.) I don’t know what the sliders came with as I avoided that plate. The wursts were quite good as were the sides - though the potato pancakes, which were deep-fried, were a bit small and disappointing. Not that good, and not enough of it! :) The roasted Brussels sprouts were great – probably my favorite thing! The fleischkase is described as a Bavarian “meatloaf” but it reminded us of the spam sandwiches we would make as kids. Nothing wrong with that, but it wasn’t what we expected. It is a sandwich with a slice of the meat conglomerate topped with bacon, onions and a fried egg.
They have about 15 drafts, all European and almost all German. I had a .3L of Spaten Optimator, but the guys enjoyed the 1L glasses suitable for giants. We saw one guy enjoying a “beer boot” as well. Plus, they have a bunch of bottled beers (including some nice Belgians) and even some wine by the glass. I didn’t look at the wine list but was told it was all German.
The guys mostly braved the crowds to order our food and drink, but the staff I encountered was very pleasant, especially considering how busy and loud the place was.
My only real regret was that, because I had already agreed to this outing, I had to miss the opening of Ric Orlando’s New World Bistro! But we have reservations Sunday, so if all goes well, I’ll have the scoop on that soon.