The best of the wurst

Photos by Bradley Hawks


While Astoria holds bragging rights on two of the city’s most popular beer gardens, 30th Avenue’s Max Bratwurst Und Bier introduces traditional German biergarten fare to the neighborhood on a deliciously new level. Max is just a smidge off the beaten path on 30th Avenue west of Steinway Street — but if you hike up your lederhosen and make the trek, you just might find your kind of wunderbar.

Max is mostly indoors, yet two walls open completely to a large wrap-around patio. They also boast a private party room downstairs chock-full of old school picnic tables. But who comes just for the furniture? Enormous, plump, warm homemade pretzels arrive with three varieties of mustard and a generous dollop of obazda — a traditional Oktoberfest cheese spread that is creamy, buttery and peppery.

Thick, velvety potato soup is delivered in a miniature crock and can be brattopped with sliced medallions of knockwurst. The soup is quite memorable, but these bangers are meant to be far more than a soup crouton.

The sausages are separated into three groups, including a Max Line of housemade franks. The Gourmet Line ranges from andouille to brats stuffed with jalapenos, blue cheese, or a blend of cheeses and beer. But the Exotic Line is the one that has people talking — including brats made of alligator, and even a klapperschlangenbratwurst made of rattlesnake and pork. Any of these dogs can be transformed into a Berlin-style currywurst for two bucks, which gets them a slathering of sauce and a sprinkling of curry powder. They can also be topped with a full range of cabbage, krauts, peppers and onions.

The menu is rounded out with a variety of schnitzel, from pork and chicken to veal. The meat is generously pounded out, then breaded and fried for what might be considered the most delicious cutlets in the neighborhood. You can also have them smothered with a creamy mushroom gravy or gypsy sauce — a blend of tomatoes and red peppers.

Several burgers join the lineup as well, and the Bavarian arrives topped with onions, cheese and two Nuernberger sausages. Lovers of loaf will literally drool over the leberkaese — a pan-grilled Bavarian meatloaf topped with a fried egg, sort of like gourmet fried bologna.

Kartoffelpuffer — better known as potato pancakes — are exceptionally large, gorgeously golden patties of spuds, which are served with ramekins of sour cream and slightly sweet applesauce. And do not ignore the other side dishes, the best of which is the kaesespaetzle, a heaping portion of crumpled little bits of German pasta tossed in melted Swiss cheese and bacon. Potato salads are prepared in both Berlin and Munich styles, but the potatoes can also be fried or mashed.

Nearly 30 imported beers range from $4 drafts of Spaten to $5 bottles of Bitburger and even a $59 bottle of DEUS. Or try the Spezi, a blend of Fanta and Coke. Desserts offer subtly sweet endings, from strudel and mousse to vanilla ice cream with warm raspberries, or a stack of kaiserschmarnn — traditional emperor’s cake with rum and raisins. What’s not to liebe?

Max Bratwurst Und Bier
47-02 30th Ave., Astoria




More from Around New York