Dinner at a Real German Biergarten (Beer Garden)

Today was a real beautiful summer day. It was cool (almost chilly) at night so it was still a bit crisp in the morning and then it became increasingly warm over the course of the day, very little humidity and a nice mild breeze contributing to an easy relaxed mood. In Germany they have a name for that type of weather: they call it "Biergartenwetter" (literally beer garden weather), i.e. the type of weather where you want to spend the day in a beer garden. You would typically plan a hiking or bicycle tour with your family or friends with the destination being a nice beer garden to have lunch/dinner and hang out for a few hours and then return home.
If you have never been to a biergarten, it is essentially an outdoor restaurant. You typically have long tables and benches spread out in a shady garden/wood setting with big old trees. You would normally go there with your family or a group of friends. Food is traditional German home style cooking (meat and potato, bratwurst) and beer is served in 1 liter beer mugs.
On top of my list of things that Westfield doesn't have (but absolutely needs to get) is certainly a beer garden. Fortunately, you don't have to look far to find one. The "Deutscher Club Clark" (German Club) has a very nice one. There is a large open area where the typical biergarten benches are lined up under some tall old trees that provide shade. There is also a larger area (aka Festhalle) that is open to the side but covered with a wooden roof in case there is rain. There are quite a few pictures on the club's website that give you a sense of what their biergarten looks like.
The "Deutscher Club" is a private club, that means to go there you need to become a member (which requires an existing member to nominate you), you can be the guest of a member or you can come for a public event when the club is open to everybody. These public events happen roughly every month and there is typically an admission fee of $5. Parking is free.
Luckily, today they do have such an Oktoberfest event that is open to the public. It starts at 4:00 PM. When we arrive there a little later there are already quite a few people but we don't have a problem finding a very nice table in the shade.
They have a very decent selection of typical German food items that you could find in a similar fashion in a Biergarten in Germany at very reasonable prices. (See image). OK, they also have not-so-German hamburgers and hot dogs.
Food is self service. You have to queue at different food counters and pay right there. A small thing: If you want to get food from different areas you have to queue several times. But the queues weren't too bad.
We decide to have the Bratwurst Platter which comes with potato salad, sauerkraut and a roll, the "Leberkaes" platter with potato salad and a side of Spaetzle with gravy.
The bratwurst is nicely seasoned and grilled just to the right point. Potato salad and sauerkraut are good but nothing spectacular. The Leberkaes however is special. This is a very German food item that is difficult to get here in the US. It is technically a meatloaf however the meat is much more finely ground and then processed in a way to give it tighter, firmer more homogeneous texture. Lightly seasoned and baked it is then cut in slices and served. The one we get at the DC is actually quite good. As you can see in the picture the food comes on paper plates and is eaten with plastic "silverware". In recycling conscious Germany that wouldn't happen. ;-))
With the food we obviously have to have some beer. They have a typical German beer selection on tap. There is the Hacker-Pschorr "Helles" (Helles is a standard German Lager), Warsteiner Pils and a Hefeweizen (a wheat ale with yeast in the bottle or keg). And for $3.50 per cup or $11 for a pitcher that is a bit more than 4 cups this is actually not a bad deal. Domestic beer (if you really must have it) is slightly cheaper.
To finish things up we get some German cake for dessert. A "Zwetschgenkuchen" is a flat cake that is made on a baking sheet (similar to pizza but sweet dough) that is covered with plums. Google has lots of pictures.
Bienenstich (literally "bee sting") is a cake filled with a layer of (usually more fluffy) custard in the middle and a thin layer of honey and sliced almonds on the top. Again some pictures at Google.
While we were having our dinner around 5:30 a German band (Buchenauer Lausbuam) started to play traditional German folksy music. Conceptually similar to country pop. Not my kind of music but lots of people love it and it wasn't loud enough to be annoying.
Oktoberfest (and other similar activities) at the "Deutscher Club" are roughly every month during the summer/fall while the weather is good enough. You can find details on their website. So if the weather is nice and you like German food and music, this is a great place to go with friends or family.

Signing Off - The Westfield Blogger

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for pointing out the German Club in Clark. We passed by several times and I never new what it was. I really like the idea of the biergarten. My family will visit their next event.
I really appreciate your writing about Westfield and around.

Jeff Roberts