Parties and groups, Outdoor Seating
This German-American restaurant with an outdoor area is the closest Long Island gets to a traditional German beer garden, with dozens of tables spread across a concrete picnic area. The setup includes an outdoor bar, bratwurst pit, dance floor and band shell where cover bands provide the musical accompaniment.
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Christkindl Markt Plattduetsche Park Restaurant, Franklin Square , NY
On 11/11/11, it must be Plattduetsche Park: consistent, orderly, dependable, to the point, rare.
This is among the last strongholds of German cuisine on Long Island, rooted in the Plattduetsche Volksfest Vereen in Brooklyn, originally a society of immigrants that provided support both social and economic to the community. The organization, now similar to a German-American club, bought the land where the restaurant and a retirement home now stand.
Oktoberfest complete and Biergarten hibernating, Plattduetsche attracts you for its time-capsule dining room, a spotless memory decorated with little Klimt and Dürer prints, images of Breslau and the Rhine, and figurines that suggest Hummels on steroids. When you talk about an election here, it could be Eisenhower vs. Stevenson.
But that's part of the appeal of a place that could be seen in sepia if it weren't so bright. Take in the surroundings while you share a generously salted, 10-ounce pretzel, imported from Munich, ready to be dipped in sweet or sharp mustard. Notice how the waitresses are uniformly cordial; the regulars, invariably polite.
Then, nibble on delicate smoked trout, emboldened by horseradish crème fraîche; or the well-seasoned steak tartare on rye toast points. No need either to fill up on the onion soup with a lid of melted provolone; or the almond-crusted Brie. There's some serious eating ahead, with fine beers on draft to go along.
It's impossible to ignore the slowly roasted, crisp-skinned, tender Bavarian pork shank, a magic mountain of meat that rises like a mini-Zugspitze atop good mashed potatoes and better sauerkraut. Likewise the flavorful flatlands of sauerbraten, tangy and sweet, a Teutonic pot roast with superior red cabbage but spongy potato dumplings.
Plattduetsche's generous Bavarian platter braces you with bratwurst, a smoked pork chop and moist loin of pork, with mashed potatoes and sauerkraut. Rindsrouladen translates into slowly braised, tasty beef rolls, sort of Teutonic braciole. Zweibel rostbraten, a fibrous sirloin with a thatch of fried onions and pan sauce, also is recommended.
The "Holy Schnitzel, it's Thursday!" menu adds 14 variations on the theme to the five that appear all the time. Standouts include the Bohemian, a sauteed pork cutlet finished with bacon and creamy paprika-Dijon mustard sauce; and the Swiss, a breaded pork cutlet baked under a mantle of Gruyère cheese. And enjoy the jaeger schnitzel, in mushroom sauce. Skippable: the dry, basic Wiener schnitzel and cornflake-crusted chicken schnitzel.
Black Forest cake naturally leads the desserts. But you know that. Plattduetsche Park has your number.