Wursthall is proof that good recipes and a respect for culinary tradition are sound building blocks for a new restaurant. This one comes in the form of a sausage and beer hall in San Mateo, California. It elevates the beer garden experience without obscuring it.
The recipes were developed by the celebrated Kenji López-Alt of Serious Eats, and they include clever twists on familiar dishes. For example, sausages don’t come on bready rolls, but on New England top-split hot dog buns. The sausages are grilled crisp with a line of char at their edges.
Thuringer Bratwurst tastes different from the more familiar Bavarian model. The sausage is denser and more intensely seasoned with herbs and caraway. It’s an uber-Brat. Wild boar sausage comes studded with wine-soaked currants. Its slight gaminess is tamed by the sweet currants and herbs. Both sausages impressed us with their size, snap, and sizzle.
You get a side relish with any sausage. We highly recommend the speck and sport pepper relish, a brilliant condiment. It’s generous with the smoked, cured ham, and it’s so tasty that it’s hard not just to pick at with your fork. Adding it to a sausage will all at once add heat, smoke, and acidity. If more seasoning is desired, there are four house-made mustards on the table. Our favorite is classic spicy brown, but they all have their place on different sausages.
Good sides are a feature of the sausage plates. The huge sausages come with a fresh green salad with pumpkin seeds for crunch, as well as a classic German potato salad. The potato salad, with its thinly-sliced potatoes still slightly firm, is particularly memorable.
But just because the potato salad is excellent, don’t let that dissuade you from Bratkartoffeln, which are crisp potatoes served in a giant bowl with various dressings. The default variation comes with a drizzle of mustard aioli and a sprinkle of chives: just the right accents.
As this is a cuisine designed for beer, there are many options of both craft beers and imports on draft, Much of the food is also delicate enough to pair with the several wines available. While some may stop in only for a mug or two, the food is really the main attraction.