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May is the rainiest month, and on Friday, I caught myself without an umbrella, not by design but because someone had stolen it while I was having dinner at the newly opened Hallo Berlin Express. But the proprietor showed me a little act of kindness and lent me his own, and I went back the next day with the umbrella and a hankering for more German sausages.

weisswurst

Hallo Berlin Express is an offshoot of a beer garden on 10th Ave and a very successful food cart up along 5th Ave. Besides 14 types of sausages served in buns, platters, all types of permutations, according to the menu, it also sells schinitzel and other German items. And beer of course. Sausages and a stein of beer seems like a good way to spend an evening. I honestly cannot remember my meal on Friday, but the weisswurst on a roll the next day was very good. The fat sausage was meaty, juicy and pretty mild tasting, with enough snap and a good sear as the boiled sausage is treated to a round of panfrying before hitting the better than average roll. Not too sour saurkraut, sweet grilled onions and tangy mustard completed the sandwich. And at $5.50 cheaper and tastier than my typical weekday lunches. Eaten outside on a good day, with lots of napkins to clean up the juicy mess afterwards, it was definitely a relaxed and satisfying meal.  

 Hallo Berlin Express

744 9th Ave (Bet 50th & 51st St)

 

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Oktoberfest is the festival when people throughout German cities let their hair loose and partake in traditional Bavarian delights, brats and beer. If you ever find yourself on the Upper East Side, with a sudden urge to celebrate Oktoberfest by drinking a lot of beer out of a boot, Heidelberg is a pretty safe bet. The massive boot at Heidelberg stands about 2 feet tall, holds 2 litres of beer while keeping the liquid surprisingly cool for a long time, and commands a whopping $60 deposit. While I didn’t get a boot for myself, some friends did, and they earned their bragging rights after draining 6 cans worth of beer.
The food at Heidelberg is hearty, filling and plain. Platters of unadorned sausages and other entrees are simply served with mounds of sauerkraut, sweet red cabbage and some potato sides. The three sausages I had were thick, plump and had a good snap to them, and I liked the smokiness of the fried bratwurst and a slightly milder boiled veal sausages that tasted of spices. The wiener schnitzel and fried potato pancakes suffered from pre-frying, and had grown stale and greasy by the time they landed on our table. Sides too left much to be desired, with cold fried homefries and an overly sour and watery potato salad highlighting a lack of care during the cooking process.
Interesting too is the Disney-fication of Heidelberg. If memory serves me right, I visited the city of Heidelberg during the summer of 2000 (having eaten many sausages but still underaged for beer), and the restaurant certainly looks overtly cheerful and rustic compared to its namesake. Its beer garden brethrens throughout the city too look like dioramas of “a typical bavarian village inn on a mountain top”, complete with servers dressed in lederhosen and kneelength socks.
Despite the rather blah food, I would return back to the restaurant but with certain caveats. I would go back with a big boisterous group of friends, for the good selection of cold German beer, and the general feeling of good cheer. And that, when beer drinking and brat eating, is paramount.

Heidelberg Restaurant

1648 2nd Ave (Bet 85th & 86th Sts)