Landbrot – A Wundubar German Cafe

A summer day, an outdoor table, and a light German brunch menu sounds like the perfect afternoon. And, despite a few serious service hiccups…this afternoon really was pretty close to perfection!

Landbrot is a new German bakery and cafe in the heart of the West Village. The interior, with its small balcony and large counter showcasing breads, tarts, and cookies, is homey and well designed. The outside cafe is casual and comfortable.

Touches like cookies served with tea reinforce the restaurant’s European feel.

Roasted Pepper and Leek Soup

This soup du jour was excellent. Sweet, smoky, and with a hearty texture, it was filling enough to serve as a meal but light enough to enjoy as an appetizer with friends. The bread served alongside was nutty and tangy.

Apple Cinnamon Muffin

Moist, with sweet chunks of apple. More of a breakfast item than a dessert one, this would be a wonderful way to start the day.

Salt Pretzel

An outstanding pretzel. Warm to the touch, crisp in some places, delightfully doughy in others. The brown crust is thick and crisp, and the insides are chewy. slathered with homemade  unsalted butter, it is a standout at the bakery.

House Salad with Potato, Carrot and  Kraut Salad, Baby Watercress, and Chives with White Wine Vinaigrette

I love this salad. It is light, it is bright, and it has textural variety. The potato salad, in between German and American style potato salad, is creamy with bites of boiled potatoes and bites of mashed potatoes. Dressed in a lightly acidic dressing with chives and plenty of pepper, this is a great dish for someone who does not like mayonnaise. The cucumbers are sweet in their tangy yogurt dressing, and the watercress is spicy and very fresh. I didn’t love the kraut, because it lacked that lip-puckering punch I really love in a good fermented vegetables.

Smoked Salmon, Garden Radishes, Green Apple, Fresh Dill, and Horseradish Spread on German Rye

Soft, buttery smoked salmon on hearty rye bread. The freshly grated horseradish adds a peppery kick that complements the radishes. The sweet-tart apples with the salmon were a revelation – they added a sweet component that I would normally never pair with fish! Served with a small salad and some kraut, this would make a  satisfying light meal all on its own.

And we were also gifted some beers…

Why, you ask?

Well, the service just wasn’t very good. Some people got and finished their meals before others were even served.  A few orders were wrong. We weren’t done eating for an hour and a half. For some cold sandwiches. I mean, normally, that would be a huge problem.

BUT…

Our server knew that there were problems. She came out constantly and apologized for the slowness, saying that there would be more hiring going on this week to help with the brunch rush. She brought out extra food and drinks. She thanked us multiple times for understanding, and was sure that our glasses were always filled with water. In short, she ensured that we had a pleasant time and that I will return in a few months to see how the service has improved. It is amazing how good service can make or break a meal, and this turned a potentially awful situation into a very good one.

In a word, Landbrot is wundubar.

Landbrot Bakery & Bar on Urbanspoon

Walking in a (Hyde Park) Winter Wonderland

Is it just me, or do you also love an international fair? Something about screaming children, stands selling “genuine Austrian crystal earrings”, and all sorts of food on a stick just makes me sing with glee 🙂 So I was thrilled to see the Hyde Park Winter Wonderland just outside our hotel!  Of course, we went over to sample the food and get a taste for how Londoners like to spend their weekends.
We were greeted with this huge grill with giant bratwursts and currywursts (sausages cut up, sprinkled with curry powder, and served with sauerkraut).

These bratwursts were the best I have had since I was last in Salzburg! There was this amazingly crunchy “snap” when you bit into them, and the sweet, spicy, and juicy taste of pork invaded your mouth. The taste was so TOTALLY pork-y and the texture was like a delicate meatball. Mixed with hot mustard and poiquant sauerkraut, it was totally delish.

A singing reindeer who spoke English in a hearty Germanic accent. Sort of cute, sort of odd…considering how much reindeer was on sale to eat there.
I mean, you don’t watch Kermit the Frog while eating frog legs, do you?

Something we need more of at American fairs. Booze makes children seem so much cuter.

JACKPOT!

The scent of this stand was all slow cooked garlic, onion, caraway seeds and pork. And, of course, sweet, salty, vinaigry, crunchy, soft, wonderful cabbage in so many forms.
The goulash was sadly dissapointing. Watery, with flaccid spaetzle and tough beef. Major fail.
The Szekely cabbage, on the other hand, was PERFECTION!  Steaming hot, soft cabbage, spiked with vinegar and carressed with rich tomato paste and melting hunks of juicy pork. Served with a spicy pickled pepper on the side, it was just what you want on a winter day. The person amking this should have taken over goulash duties.

Chocolate and Hazelnut marzipan is a nutty, rich, almost overly sweet confecction. Notice I said “almost”.

“Health Cake”, consisting of dates, nuts, and honey. That is a diet I could get used to.

Please note the “stovies and oatcakes”, the “tartan breakfast bap” and the “spicy haggis burger”.
Just like the chicken nuggets we eat at our fairs, right?
We got a Venison burger with Haggis because…well, that’s how we roll, yo.
Sorry, you know I try to sound like a cool kid sometimes.
The venison was tough and the haggis was mushy, which stinks because I actually LOVE the meaty and slightly gamey taste of venison and the offal-y, tender taste of haggis.  But this was not the most high quality stuff.
Don’t worry…there was better stuff to come…

Like this.

Look at that lovely, milky cheese, stretching to infinity.
Baked onsite, and loaded with small wild mushrooms, topped with sour cream that was richer than Donald Trump…this was a revelation. Crunchy on the outside, soft and doughy on the inside, with mild, sweet cheese, umami filled mushrooms, and that freakin AWESOME sour cream…this basically kicked grilled cheese’s ass.
And these potatoes had onions, leeks, cabbage, tomatoes, and green beans in them. Fried in butter. Till crisp. But still fluffy and creamy on the inside.

And topped with my favorite concoction of curry ketchup and hot mustard. Only a fried egg could have improved this.
Next up…a really GREAT example of haggis…

Brats: Dogs and Wieners is a Winner!

What girl doesn’t love a big juicy wiener?
I just had to say that to get it out of my system.

But really…who doesn’t love a nice artisinal sausage?  I certainly do.  And that’s why I was so excited to check out Brats: Dogs and Wieners.  Run by the Austrian chef Daniel Angerer, this place had a whole menu filled with different types of sausages for excellent prices.  I sat at the bar in the mostly empty, very small restaurant.  A very helpful waitress took the order, and soon, the sausages appeared as if in a dream…





CHICKEN DOG with Hungarian paprika, coriander, and maple mustard.  Pardon me while I find religion.  Because that is basically the effect that this had on me.  I mean…OMG!!! AMAZING!  The texture was smooth and  soft with a fantastic SNAP when I bit into it.  It was juicy, fragrant with coriander, and vaguely spicy from the paprika.  It was so delicately seasoned and textured, it was more reminiscent of veal than chicken!  The homemade sauerkraut was sour but not bitter, and was just crisp enough to provide textural contrast the the sausage.The maple mustard was both tart and sweet, and really accented the coriander nicely.  This was like the world’s best breakfast sausage. 



CANARD SAUCISSON -duck sausage with a layer of pate and red wine mustard.  This was a serious sausage.  This is not some “oh let’s fool around and throw some ketchup on here” kind of affair.  You order this if you know and love duck and pate.  If you don’t-don’t even THINK about getting it.  I, of course, belong to the former camp. This was an aggressive and meaty affair, with a lightly gamey, heavily peppered duck sausage complimented by a thick schmear of mineral-y liver pate.  This is not pate for beginners.  This is for people who know and love pate.  The mustard tastes subtle and sweet next to the sausage, and really rounds out the meal. It might not be for everyone, but it was definitely for me!  There was also macaroni salad, which I did not try, but Marmie loved (read: heavy on the mayo).



The last, and possibly best loved sausage, was the DRAGON WIENER pig sausage with red kimchee and spicy Sriracha mustard.  This was a taste SENSATION!!  Sweet, fatty pork melded with tart pickled cabbage and a slightly spicy mustard was just delicious.  It was sour from the slaw, spicy from the mayo, and both sweet and meaty from the sausage.  It absolutely hit all cylinders that I think a truly fantastic hot dog should hit. My only beef (no pun intended!) with the dish was the menu’s description of the pickled cabbage as “kimchee”.  Um, no.  No anchovies, no heat factor, no garlic…no kimchee. Actually, kimchee would have overpowered the dish-I like it with the pickled cabbage. Just call it pickled cabbage, if you please.  Now there WAS garlic in the…



SWEET & SOUR VEGGIES in a jalapeno-­honey brine.  Didn’t taste the honey.  Didn’t taste the jalapeno.  I got vinegar and garlic.  Too much.  And this is from the girl who wishes “Eau de Garlic” was an actual perfume.  It was so intense that it overpowered all other flavors and I had to take another bite of hot dog bun to rid my mouth of the garlic.  Sadly dislike.

but the buns themselves were AMAZING!!! Top Split brioche buns that were sturdy enough to hold the dogs, soft enough to eat easily, and buttery and airy enough to eat all by themselves.  That’s why I gave them their own paragraph-these buns deserved a place of their own in the review.

This is a pretty awesome place.  Where else can you try pate on a hot dog?  Or try a tobacco flavored milkshake (really!)?  Though the pickled veggies need work, everything else was right on.  I really enjoyed my wieners.

And yes…that’s what she said.

Brats- Dogs & Wieners on Urbanspoon