Black Forest Brew Haus
2015 New Hwy. Farmingdale, NY 631-391-9500
Restaurant and beer hall serving German and American food. Also brews beer and features occasional live music.Hours: Lunch, 11:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Mon. to Fri., Dinner, 4-10 p.m. Mon. to Thur., 4-11 p.m. Fri.-Sat.; Sunday brunch, 11 a.m-3 p.m. Restaurant closes one hour before bar. Credit cards: Accepted Accessibility: One dining room accessible; steps to larger dining room.
My mouth fell open as a waiter at the Black Forest Brew Haus in Farmingdale passed by carrying what looked like a tall, savory layer cake. He set it down in front of a couple at a table behind us. Their eyes widened.
"Excuse me, but what was that?" I asked the waiter.
"Loaded potato pancakes," he said. "There are two, and they're filled with sour cream, topped with melted cheddar and bacon."
I restrained myself from making a quip about the restaurant needing a cardiologist on retainer. In truth, I was envious of the two people attacking that Frisbee-sized affair. I decided I'd order it next time I came.
Which is exactly what I did, assisted by three fellow diners. Although we ate with some restraint (we had half wrapped to go), the dish turned out to be even more rich, fluffy and meltingly delicious than I'd dared imagine. We also had an inspired concoction called a flame.cake -- a cracker-crisp square pizza topped with mascarpone, bacon and onions. Could there be a more perfect bar food? We chased our appetizers with a sampler of house-brewed beers (the amber and the pilsner were my favorites).
Of course, you can order lighter fare, like the seared ahi tuna salad over mesclun with wasabi dressing and soba noodles. The tuna was fresh and well-spiced, although the salad was undermined by its heavy dressing. Still, do you really want to go Japanese-ish at a brew haus? And even if you've only come for a quick lunch, forgo the dry annato-rubbed turkey sandwich on pretzel bread with honey mustard. Here, real meat and potatoes is the name of the game.
If you haven't had wiener schnitzel in a while, try theirs, which is fried to a crisp and is tender enough to cut with a fork. I loved the pork rippchen, a pair of applewood-smoked pork chops with roasted garlic mashed potatoes and house-made applesauce. The sauerbraten, accompanied by creamy spaetzle and sweet-sour red cabbage, managed to be both tangy and mellow. Or feast on the lager-braised pork shank, a huge haunch of unabashedly fat-laced meat imbued with a deep smokiness.
A winning non-German item turned out to be Romanian skirt steak, marinated in both teriyaki sauce and lager. The two vegetables on the side, asparagus and broccoli (which a carb-conscious member of our group was able to get instead of potatoes) were fresh and crisp-tender.
The appropriate conclusion is the flaky, house-made apple strudel. The apples are not overly sweet, so what you taste is the autumnal essence of the fruit itself. Or try the apple flamecake, crisp pizza dough topped with paper-thin slices of cinnamon-dusted apple embedded in mascarpone cheese.
When it's cold out there, the Black Forest may have just the kind of hearty Teutonic comfort you crave.