Monday, June 29, 2009

Croquer: Wurstküche

Kids in a candy store. That was me and Nicole when we stepped inside of Wurstküche in downtown Los Angeles, steps from Little Tokyo in the historic Arts District. Purveyors of exotic sausages with Belgian-style frites and 24 imported biers on tap, Wurstküche basically nailed the way to impress me with a business plan. Simple, to the point, flawless. The case of sausages at the ordering counter made my mouth water as much at the cooler case at Scoops. Behind the counter a fire grill roasted a heaping pan of spicy peppers, several sausages popping softly over the flames nearby. We painstakingly selected from the long list categorized by Classics (brawtwurst, knockwurst..), Gourmet (Filipino Marharlica, Louisiana Hot Link..), and Exotic (alligator andouille, rattlesnake & rabbit..). Picking condiments for the fries was almost as difficult. When we got stuck on the beer list, the very patient man at the counter gently let us know we could get our drinks at the bar in the dining area, and seeing the lunch time line mounting behind us, smiled sheepishly and paid him for our food.
Down a hall and around a corner is a large dining area with communal picnic table style seating and some small tables along the windows. An open door leads to sidewalk seating outside. The brick space is breezy and open, minimal and comfortable. A long bar with architectural stools has little behind it but a long row of stainless draught spouts and a line of Chimay Blue magnums. The amiable bartender helped us through the list of Belgian and German specialty ales, letting us taste several before we selected. I enjoyed the rich St. Bernardus - ABT 12, Nicole a lighter Belgian. The hazy sun filled the room through factory windows. I could see myself sitting here often, I thought.
By the time our food arrived, the high alchohol beer had already started away at my early afternoon head, and sausage never looked so good.
We got two varieties to share, the first a no-brainer: duck & bacon with jalapeño peppers, topped with spicy peppers and sauerkraut. Say what?? Yeah. Rich and fatty in flavor, juicy and satisfying with a hint of good spice. we also got the rabbit, veal & pork with white wine, topped with caramelized onions and sweet peppers. Softer and elegant, this was a tasty sausage, but the indulgent duck & bacon took the cake. The Belgian fries were thick and crispy, with spicy chipotle ketchup & pesto aioli. The chipotle ketchup was so good and seemingly simple, I immediately began to think about making it when I got home.
Probably the most satisfying overall lunch experience in quite some time, Wurstküche easily slid into my Summer Top 10. Check it out right away, but if you get lost trying to find it and need to stop for directions (it's a little tricky) just don't pronounce it phonetically, you may end up in a different part of downtown.

800 E 3rd Street Los Angeles, CA 90013; 213.687.4444

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