Oktoberfest is the one time of year around here that rekindles interest in German food. It's autumn, it's getting cooler, it's time for a husky dinner of smoked pork chops and sauerkraut or sauerbraten and dumplings. Pass the pretzels and mustard.
These are among the husky German staples on Long Island, where the country's cuisine is defined with meat and potatoes. But Germany's cooking is intensely regional. Yes, you can find sauerbraten in plenty of provinces. That Teutonic pot roast, however, isn't the whole story.
Sometime after the 'fest is done, the eateries that sport a German accent should move from Bavaria to the Rhineland and Mecklenburg and come up with a few seafood dishes, too. German cooking takes in flounder and trout, perch and carp, eel and mussels, and a big catch of herring.
The The Oak Chalet (1940 Bellmore Ave., Bellmore; 516-826-1700) offers a bracing herring salad, herring in wine sauce, and smoked trout with horseradish cream. Pumpernickels (640 Main St., Northport; 631-757-7959) comes through with herring in cream sauce with onions, and fried sole. Periodically, rollmops appear on a menu: pickled herring wrapped around, yes, a pickle. But you'll have a long search to find even pan-fried trout with lemon and parsley. let alone fried whole herring in vinegar sauce or smoked eel in any guise.
Expanding the repertoire and lightening up the local choices could broaden the audience for German fare. Besides, seafood goes with a good beer, too.
For a longer list of Oktoberfest-worthy venues, click here.