By Merle Exit
Woodhaven has a distinct history that includes the site of two racetracks, a professional Negro Baseball team, the first house address in Queens, and Manor Delicatessen, which opened in 1915.
Located at 94-12 Jamaica Ave., this Bavarian deli still serves the Woodhaven community to this day under the ownership of Mark Gallagher, who had worked there for 30 years — he started when he was 15 — before becoming the owner.
Gallagher wanted to expand to a restaurant as there was no seating at the deli, which is known for its German salads. The opportunity came up at the Shops at Atlas Park in Glendale as he opened a small full scale restaurant in 2006, Manor Oktoberfest with both indoor and terrace seating.
Still looking to open a larger location — one that would be a bit more formal — Gallagher opened a third one in three years later located at 73-11 Yellowstone Blvd. in Forest Hills sporting more than 30 beers, an expanded menu and a party room. What is great about the bar is that it is somewhat enclosed to separate it from the dining area. And the happy hours feature a $5 half-liter of draft beer.
It is at this location that I recently dined with friends, giving me the opportunity to share a little and taste more of the menu.
I ordered an appetizer of an $8 Bavarian style soft pretzel with pickled vegetables. And boy, was it a mouthful. One could feed each of our group seven with ease. The pretzel, paired with a glass of beer would satisfy your hunger as well as a full lunch.
The huge pretzels are available at half the size at the Atlas Park locale with a lower price. At the Forest Hills location, you can add beer cheese or liver pate to spread on it for an extra $4.
We also ordered a pierogi sampler, served with sour cream. Each od the eight pierogi had potato plus another filling. Although they tasted fine, I could not really distinguish what the other fillings were. They seemed rather small compared to Polish style pierogis, which I have usually found to have a distinct second stuffing. I asked our waiter and he said that he did not know which fillings as the sampler is chosen by the chef.
Next was the pickled herring, served in a cream sauce of onions and sour cream. The dish is a favorite that I grew up with and is usually served out of a jar. It was perfect with challah or rye bread. However, I don’t believe it came out of a jar here. The taste brought both nostalgia and a satisfied palate.
Looking at the menu, I wanted to see the difference in much of the typical German fare. Schnitzel is a breaded and fried pork cutlet. Jagerschnitzel is served in a mushroom hunter sauce. Weiner schnitzel has a lemon wedge on the side, and Hungarian schnitzel has an Hungarian Paprika sauce.
Bratwurst is delicately seasoned pork and veal traditional German sausage. Krainerwurst is a slightly spicy smoked bratwurst infused with cheddar cheese. Knockwurst is a fat and garlicky all beef sausage while Mozart Wurst is veal, ham, pimiento and parsley. I discovered that they do not make the sausage on the premises, but that doesn’t mean they are not great.
If you like the taste of a smoked bone-in pork chop, Kassler Rippchen is the for you. It is served with home fried potatoes and sauerkraut — you may be able to substitute a potato pancake for the home fries.
My entrée of choice was the Sauerbraten, a test of taste of German cuisine. Beef, usually a pot roast, is marinated for days to tenderize it and achieve the swewet and sour flavor. It is then roasted and served sitting in the delicious gravy that comes from the beef drippings. Traditional accompaniments are spaetzle — a noodle dumpling made with flour, milk and eggs — and red cabbage. As for my taste buds, and the person sitting next to me who ordered the same, it certainly achieved perfection.
Having eyed a well-lit dessert case, I asked the waiter if each of the selections were made on the premises. The apple straddle was, but not any of the others. Not having what is tagged as Junior’s Cheesecake in quite a while, I opted for a slice. My cheesecake tastings have come to the conclusion that although it tasted okay, I prefer La Cheesecake in College Point and Cascon in Whitestone.
Manor Oktoberfest in Yellowstone is closed on Mondays and opens at 12 p.m. every other day of the week. The restaurant closes at 11 p.m. on Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, and at 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.
For more information, visit www.manor