When I think “beer garden” I think of busty blond wenches in lederhosen serving up sausages and steins of frothy beer (and maybe yodeling while they do so). I don’t have any frame of reference for this association, having never been to a beer garden, but when Jeff & Eva invited me to join them at Loreley Biergarten I had that image swimming around in my head. Loreley defied my expectations — it’s essentially a dive bar that happens to stock tons of specialty German beers and has a restaurant in the back that serves German food. Thank goodness for that.
While we waited for a table (the place was packed) we drank some beer at the bar. When it became apparent that we would be waiting for longer than we thought, we ordered some pretzels. They arrived piping hot with a side of spicy mustard and they are not pictured because we wolfed them down while standing next to the bar. Hot, salty, and spicy — just the right snack to accompany a cold dark beer.
When we were finally seated at the scarred wooden tables, we needed more beer. To accompany the beer we ordered dinner. First, Jeff and Eva insisted we order the potato pancakes, according to them the “best in the city.” I haven’t eaten too many potato pancakes in restaurants, but I’m confident that they are among the best — thick, crunchy, not too greasy. They are served with applesauce and lingonberry jam, so you can get that whole sweet/savory combination that is so good.
While Jeff & Eva shared a sausage sampler plate I ordered spaetzle with cheese. Spaetzle are kind of a noodle or dumpling, in this case covered in mild cheese and then put under a broiler for a minute. It was like a grown-up version of macaroni and cheese, and it came, thankfully, with a side salad. After so much heavy, starchy food the salad was a much needed touch.
The food was good but the Biergarten was so loud that we had to literally shout to each other to be heard. We decided to go grab a drink at the quietest place we could find, and Jeff & Eva suggested Oro Bakery & Bar because they know the owner. First of all I have to say that a combination bakery and bar is GENIUS and that there should be more of them.
Oro was just what the doctor ordered after the the chaos of Loreley. The environment is relaxed and the wine list is extensive. We each got a glass of the Cava, and I let Eva talk me into getting a madeleine. I’m a huge fan of madeleines, though the ones served at Oro were a little too cake-like for my taste. Still, they were an excellent counterpoint to the sweet Cava, and it was a great end to a fun night.
Loreley Biergarten — 7 Rivington Street
Oro Bakery and Bar — 375 Broome Street