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Wurstkuche – what am I missing?

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  • Jase Nov 22, 2010 11:27 AM
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Yesterday’s visit to Fab’s dogs (see other review) reminded me of a recent trip to Wurstkuche. Although I didn’t dislike the place I failed to see why it is such a huge attraction. We popped in on a midday weekend afternoon, I had timed it to specifically avoid the long lines. There were a half dozen people in in line inside and a few more milling around waiting for their orders. Right there I was somewhat annoyed at how unorganized it seemed. There was no menu, no signs or obvious indications of what exactly you were supposed to do. I finally figured out there was a stack of the disposable paper menus up by the counter and had to excuse myself to cutting through some people and grab a menu. To the staff’s credit, while I was waiting in line, I explained to one of them it was my first time here and could they explain the set up to me, they were very friendly in explaining.

We ordered the Filipino Maharlika and Louisiana Hotlink. Side of Belgian fries and a dipping sauce of the Thai Peanut butter. A couple of Fentiman’s soda’s and we were good to go. Grabbed our seats and not too soon after the food was delivered. We were pretty disappointed overall. Both our sausages were overcooked and dry. The flavors weren’t particularly distinctive for either sausage. Our Belgian fries were a mixed of overcooked and under cooked fries. We had several burnt darkish brown pieces and light pieces. Ordinary taste and texture was mealy on the undercooked ones. The dipping sauce was kind of boring. Kind of watered down peanut butter without any other spice notes in it. On our New York visits, we love Pomme Frite and was hoping to find an approximation of it locally both fries and dipping sauces.

We left disappointed especially at those prices. I’m going to give this place another shot sometime since we do like the variety of offering but definitely not in a hurry. Hoping that we jsut had a really bad visit. Can anyone shed some light on what exactly did I miss here?

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Wurstkuche
800 E 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA 90013

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  1. I don't think you missed much being a CH.

    I think one thing CH's may tend to forget is not everyone cares about food as much as a chowhounder.

    For a lot of folks the food is perfectly fine or they don't care enough about food to notice that everything on the menu is not being perfectly executed.

    A lot of people simply come there to socialize have a snack, drink a beer and go on with their lives.

    1. If you didn't like Wrustkuche, then you're obviously not hip enough.

      It's like if you're not whipping out your camera phone at every course that's plated during a 9-course tasting at Scarpetta, then obviously you're not part of the "it" crowd.

      Kidding aside, I've always felt that the appeal of Wrustkuche was less about quality and taste of the food, than it was about the novelty of chowing down on exotic sausages. There's nothing wrong with that, but if I want a good dog, at a good price, I'd rather go to Costco or make the trek to Harlem Alley in the Bank District and patronize the cart operated by Tony Pardines. http://www.arts-n-eats.com/

      But that's just me. And, yeah, I was the geekie kid in high school that went to the prom with my cousin ...

      10 Replies
      1. re: ipsedixit

        I'm definitely not hip enough. Even if I had a closet full of ironic t-shirts and tiny pork pie hats, I don't think I could pass for hip during Halloween. I do like taking pictures of my food though to help out with my fading memory.

        I kind of got that part of the appeal would be the scene and location. And part of that would be to pay more than the going rate. Fine, all that was included in the expectation level. But I didn't think it was expecting too much that during a non busy time, I'd get a decently cooked sausage and fries. That's where my expectation level was set, competently prepared, not even perfect, just competent.

        1. re: Jase

          I think the beers are great, the fries are very good, the dips are good, and the vegetarian sausages are pretty good.

          1. re: sushigirlie

            That's what I had heard. That's why I was disappointed at our badly cooked fries and unremarkable dipping sauce.

            I've never had and never will plan to have a vegetarian sausage so can't speak to that aspect.

            1. re: Jase

              i go for the beers and eat a sausage as a snack (almost like peanuts at a bar)

        2. re: ipsedixit

          Ha.....I went to a prom with my cousin (2nd cousin if there's such a thing, she was the geek, & 5'11" tall)....we had a great time and end of the night wished she wasn't my cousin.

          Sounds like the OP's visit was a fluke. I've been to Wurstkuche at least a dozen tmes and never had a dry sausage or Belgian fries that weren't cooked perfectly. A previous CH thread says Brat Brother's in Sherman Oaks makes the sausages for Wurstkuche.

          BTW: I'm far from being a hipster type.

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          Wurstkuche
          800 E 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA 90013

          1. re: monku

            "A previous CH thread says Brat Brother's in Sherman Oaks makes the sausages for Wurstkuche. "

            more info? need proof.

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            Wurstkuche
            800 E 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA 90013

            1. re: ns1

              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/680137
              Scroll down...reference made by poster "Carter"

              1. re: monku

                I have been to Brat Brothers and can confirm they make the sausages but they do not have the Frites.

                1. re: Mattapoisett in LA

                  thanks for the info!

          2. re: ipsedixit

            At least you got to go to prom, ipse. I missed prom altogether 'cuz I was studying for my myriad of AP exams.

            I like Wurstkuche for 3 reasons:
            (1) I can buy the uncooked rattlesnake sausage (their best exotic sausage, IMHO), take it home, and put it on the grill at home myself.
            (2) Their traditional kielbasa and is really good (their bratwurst is just OK)
            (3) I miss German beerhall-style seating and conviviality in L.A., and Wurstkuche somewhat faithfully reproduces it.

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            Wurstkuche
            800 E 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA 90013

          3. If you ever do end up going back, just try the plain bratwurst. I find it very good.

            1. I like Wurstkuche. I think the sausages are pretty good and so is the beer selection. Their fries were excellent the few times I've been there. The dipping sauces were hit or miss for me. It's not a place I'll fight traffic for like Langer's, but if you're in the area, and want a beer and some food, it's a good spot.

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              Wurstkuche
              800 E 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA 90013

              1. I've always maintained that Wurstkuche has such a huge menu of not-great sausages to justify it's sausage-only menu. Some of the sausages are good (Italian comes to mind) but only the brat is great. If the sausage has multiple small or reptilian animals in it, it probably isn't going to be very good.

                The fries are stellar. I've been their loads of times and never had a bad batch but it sounds like that's what happened in your case. Same goes for the sausage cooking - never had a problem. It's worth another shot. Plus - Thai peanut sauce? Go with the curry ketchup or aioli.

                I don't know if you don't drink or don't like beer but that is essential to the experience. I'm not sure I'd really like the food without it. Wurstkuche is the textbook definition of beer food.

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                Wurstkuche
                800 E 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA 90013

                1. Thanks to most everyone on this post for chiming in. I do miss good Belgian frites and am just hoping I caught them on a bad day. It was kind of a bummer for us that we had a disappointing visit. We tend to go into most places with tempered expectations and don't get too worked up over hype. So when a place fails to meet those expectations, it's tougher than not matching inflated expecations.

                  But we certainly am meaning to go back and this wasn't meant to slam the place at all. Just observations and thoughts from my visit.

                  13 Replies
                  1. re: Jase

                    The "frites thing" reminds me of our experiences with the ones at Comme Ca. We have loved them each of the 3 times we've eaten there for brunch. On the other hand rednyellow (haven't seen him around lately?) had an abysmal experience with them. Timing, once again, seems to be everything in life. And I did notice that someone on Yelp mentioned the confusing nature of going in to Wurstkuche and trying to figure out the ordering procedure...so you're not alone with that particular issue.

                    1. re: Servorg

                      Wait, did you just compare me to a Yelp user? I think I got insulted again? haha, I keed, I know you better than that.

                      Maybe it's the OCD efficient side of me. But I think it's kind of silly to set up a order counter in a tight space where there's going to be long snaking lines and not put up some kind of accessible menu. Furthermore to have the only set of menus stacked right by the register kind of implies you don't want people figuring it out until they get up to the register. Wouldn't it have made more sense to have a stack of the paper menus right at the entrance? Then just have sign pointing out the menu and where to order? That way people can figure out what they want while in line then be ready to go once they hit the register?

                      But what do I know? I'm one of those silly people that have cash or credit card in hand ready to hand it to the cashier when I'm ready to be rung up.

                      1. re: Jase

                        The line can certainly be frustrating when you have a beer in hand and want to order while the line is out the door. You'll have to chug that beer before you can get outside into the line.

                        Always been happy with the food however...

                        1. re: LATrapp

                          "You'll have to chug that beer before you can get outside into the line."

                          Or sneak it out.

                        2. re: Jase

                          You know a lot, there order system is not fluid at all.

                          Then again like certain night clubs having a line outside your door is desirable.

                          1. re: burntwater

                            Regarding the ordering setup, I'm guessing the owners didn't think they would do such amazing business, and the tight, triangular shaped room wouldn't be such a big deal. But now that they've been going gangbusters for a while, they really ought to figure something better out. Then again, I hate Philippe's setup and they've been doing it for 100 years.

                            Like samtron, I go for the beers and consider the sausage a snack. Like others have said, I think it's a combination of the right crowd and ambience.

                            1. re: andytseng

                              They're open at night, too?!

                              1. re: andytseng

                                Huh, I guess I weighted my experience too much towards just trying the sausage. Seems like most everyone here thinks the ambiance and beer is a large part of the experience.

                                I wonder how my wife will take it if I tell her that her company was lacking and therefore failed to elevate the ambiance and experience of the sausage? LOL! If no one hears from me after I tell her, put out a missing persons report will you?

                                1. re: Jase

                                  Huh, I guess I weighted my experience too much towards just trying the sausage. Seems like most everyone here thinks the ambiance and beer is a large part of the experience.

                                  ______________________________

                                  This is what I meant when I said I was not hip enough to enjoy Wurstkuche.

                                  Part of the appeal is the ability to congregate over a good brew and feel somehow superior to everyone else, even though you paid top dollar for your downtown loft ($700/sq foot???) before the market crashed and the gentrification of downtown had a major hiccup.

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                                  Wurstkuche
                                  800 E 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA 90013

                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                    Or commuted there from anywhere but downtown!

                                    1. re: ipsedixit

                                      I've been there are few times. Yeah, I think the architecture/design and vibe is cool. I think the line is sometimes long for the level of food and the price. But that's me. People think it's interesting, and I wouldn't say that it's not worth a single visit.

                                      The fries have been good. Some sausages have been good, one vegetarian I had was terrible to me. PBR's are reasonably priced for a hipster place.

                                      If you're all about the food, want a deal, and don't care about ambience much, skip the place. If you like hipsterish spots, check it out. I like cool design and architecture, but never as much as a bomb meal at a good price. Some people like one, or both, or might be in different moods at times.

                                      1. re: ipsedixit

                                        Who's feeling superior to whom here?

                                2. re: Jase

                                  It's not cool to have a "Menu Here" sign unless it is a school cafeteria...

                            2. With all the usual trimmings - they all tended to taste the same for me. I liked it, but didn't love it. Maybe go lighter on the kraut, etc. and I'll be able to discern the differences.

                              The fries looked better than they tasted.

                              The neighborhood was fun, holds a lot of memories.

                              1. So far I have not had a bad experience at Wurstkuche. It has a vibe of a place you find in NYC or Tokyo where you meet up with your friends for a drink or two with yummy bites. I had a plain brad at my first visit and it was good. I am surprise that no one mentioned Duck and Bacon which is my favorite. Exotic meat, such as alligator and snake, seems dry to me – not my cup of tea. Thai Peanut butter dipping sauce? They really should take it off the menu; it is terrible. I am not a big fan of spicy sausages. I rather add heat with spicy pepper as one of my toppings. We love the wild selection of beer. Where else can you find Duchess de Bourgogne (now that I said it, I am sure someone will find a place on Westside – let me know )? My only complaint is the parking, but it is what it is for the area. You can always valet at a restaurant next door…

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                                Wurstkuche
                                800 E 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA 90013

                                 
                                3 Replies
                                1. re: Ashibi

                                  Yeah, I always describe it to my friends as a bar with a
                                  Brooklyn vibe.

                                  As for the Duchess Wurstkuche is one of the only places I know of in LA that has it on rotation.

                                  That said, it's not the best sour but it's good for a gateway.

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                                  Wurstkuche
                                  800 E 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA 90013

                                  1. re: Ashibi

                                    I've bought the Duchess at Whole Foods (and have had it Bars in San Diego as well). It tastes good with Burgers too! ;D

                                    1. re: Dommy

                                      Oops.... Dommy, I should have been more clear, regular rotation on tap / steady handle.
                                      I've seen it on tap at other places but I can't recall anywhere in town who keeps it as a steady handle. Possibly Lucky Baldwins but it's been a while since I've been in there.

                                      It's very convenient to find it in the bottle as you suggested and the price is very reasonable compared to other sours.

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                                      Lucky Baldwins
                                      17 S Raymond Ave, Pasadena, CA 91105