Monday, May 09, 2011
Ich Bin Ein Hipster: Berlin Currywurst
Here's the thing about Berlin Currywurst: its location is perfect. Should we be surprised that Silverlakers are fascinated with this little slice of hip urban Germany in the middle of Sunset Junction? I mean, if this place existed on the west side, say, or in the valley, would anyone be impressed with the space's cool minimalist feel, their commitment to organic ingredients, or the co-owner's totally awesome haircut?
But as it stands, everyone who walks into the tiny space -- cleaned up considerably since its time as a beloved pupusería -- seems to just 'get it'. A guy in a fedora chats up the disarmingly handsome young German couple who do triple duty as owners, waiters, and cashiers, waxing poetic about his own time in Berlin, getting nostalgic not only about currywurst, but that lovely young German girl who who got away. A young couple lets their two towheaded boys run around the restaurant while they chat with the owners in German. Another guy asks about the restaurant's furnishings, and comes to find out that the awesome industrial-looking chairs have been acquired over years, while the tables -- wood tabletops on legs made of metal piping -- were created by a friend of the owners. Of course.
Berlin Currywurst's menu, scrawled across one chalkboard-painted wall behind the counter, consists of two things: fritten, nubby chunks of hand-cut french fried potato; and the namesake currywurst. Currywurst is a German street food consisting of bite-sized chunks of sausage drenched in curry sauce and sprinkled generously with spicy curry powder. While the menu seems sparse, you have many options: you can choose from a variety of sausages (pork, veal, beef, and chicken are represented in various combinations, in addition to two different tofu options), and several flavors of curry, all made in-house (I went with a daily special of orange-ginger, but you might try chipotle or jambalaya).
The fritten have a rich real-potato taste. They come topped with lots of black pepper, and if you choose, you can add grilled onions or jambalaya sauce. The gnarliest, most roughly cut are the best ones, as they're crisped through in all those well-browned nooks and crannies. The real prize at Berlin Currywurst is to take one of those crisped chunks of potato, pull it through the warm curry sauce from your wurst, then dip it in mayonnaise: spicy, fried, salty, and creamy, all in one bite.
Which brings us to the other thing about Berlin Currywurst. Essentially, you're getting street food in a sit-down restaurant. The cornerstone of the menu is heavily spiced sausage (you can order yours at a heat rating from 1 to 4, and 3 and 4 are not available to children), and it's served with deep fried potatoes. Your only utensil is an adorable wooden pitchfork of sorts. All this is bliss when you're wobbling out of the bar at 2 o'clock in the morning, but this place is for daylight hours: don't be shocked when the bill comes and you're out 13 bucks. Of course, there's a reason for the price: they use high-quality organic ingredients, and the offerings are generous (along with a hefty portion of wurst, you get a slice of their hearty homemade bread, too). The thing is, I'm here for dinner and my judgement is not clouded by way too many tequilas. I just wish they had some vegetables.
But still, between the comforting food, the great space, and the welcoming service, the place has a nice feel. And the fact that they've managed to bring a novel ethnic food item to Los Angeles in 2011 is impressive in itself. So, Berlin Currywurst, welcome to Silver Lake. We love your aesthetic, and your saucy, spicy chunks of sausagey goodness. We also love vegetables.
Berlin Currywurst is at 3827 Sunset Blvd, at Hyperion, in Silver Lake.