Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Wurstbar


If you're looking for a place to do some serious beer drinking, Wurstbar is going to be your new favorite spot.

Opened towards the end of summer at 516 Jersey Ave, Wurstbar quickly started earning praise for its wide-ranging and specialized beer menu that goes far beyond the standard craft IPAs and their relaxed, intimate vibe. The beers vary almost daily with typically 14 beers on draft and another 10-12 or so bottle selections along with an extensive cider menu and a small wine list. Although they carry a variety of brew styles from a lot of excellent breweries, their list of sour beers is worth a special mention. It's hard to find sour beers in Jersey City and they've gone above and beyond to get some of the best ones out there, putting themselves on the map for that alone.

As for the food? Also fairly specialized. It's clear a lot of planning went into the overall flavor profile of each menu item. There's a more traditional menu with your choice of three sausages - an all beef hot dog, bratwurst, or kielbasa, topped with sauerkraut, mustard, onions, and relish (I recommend skipping the relish, it's overkill) and then a longer menu of signature sausages made with rabbit, venison, chicken and more and topped with everything from sweet plantains to masala curry. All sausages can be swapped out with a soy-free veggie sausage option upon request.
The sausages themselves are all excellent - really good quality, very flavorful, juicy, and with a nice snap to them, but sometimes the flavor gets a little lost under all the toppings and the soft, sweet bread they're served on. This was most obvious on my first visit with the Rancho Grande, a chorizo sausage with avocado, queso fresco, pickled onions, and green chile mayo. It was still tasty, but the sweetness of the bread in combination with the creaminess of the avocado and the sharp, sweet vinegar of the pickled onions overwhelmed the chorizo when it should have been the predominant flavor. That said, when it came to the baowurst (one of my favorites), a bratwurst served with shredded pork, slaw, and hoisin aioli, the sweetness of the bread and all the toppings worked really well together. I think it would be a big help if they offered a couple of choices of rolls so people could choose what might work best for their chosen sausage.

The fries also deserve a quick mention. Not only are they delicious plain - not tremendously crisp, but hand cut with fluffy potato interiors, well-salted, and served with your choice of a number of flavorful dipping sauces - but the poutine is quite good as well. The gravy got a bit salty after a few bites, but it's a welcome accompaniment to a couple of beers.  It's also a pretty generous portion, perfect for sharing.

All in All
Wurstbar is a great space meant for people who really like beer or want to learn more about what they like. While this is not the place to go for a well-rounded healthy meal, it's exactly what you want in bar food and they're putting out some very creative sausage combinations worth trying (particularly noteworthy is the Hound Dog with bacon, Thai peanut aioli, and sweet plantains). They've recently added delivery, have weekly featured sausage and poutine specials, and have happy hour every Monday-Friday from 4pm-7pm. The cider list is also not to be missed and it seems like they're starting to put together more and more events for the community as well, so stay tuned.

One of the weekly specials "Pop Goes the Wiener" with bacon, fried jalapenos, and cheddar cheese sauce

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