If you have a yen for German food there aren’t too many choices left that aren’t beer gardens. At one time in Manhattan and Queens, there were dozens — many dating from a time when German was one of the city’s predominant ethnic groups. Now, we have just a handful, including the Heidelberg on the Upper East Side, Zum Stammtisch in Glendale, and Rolf’s in Kip’s Bay, the latter founded in 1968 at the corner of Third Avenue and 22nd Street.
The frankly expensive menu ($30.95 for wursts to $74 for steak) is a Bavarian mix of sausages, schnitzels, and potato pancakes, but for six months out of the year, the restaurant turns into a Christmas wonderland that the website terms “Victorian,” with 200,000 lights, 15,000 ornaments, and 800 dolls in a smallish space, with not a Santa in sight. A friend and I went in search of German food precisely at the noon opening last Friday and found a long line already trailing down the block, umbrellas raised in the rain. We waited an hour and were finally admitted to stand 10-deep at the bar, as silver ornaments swung dizzyingly around us.
We couldn’t get a beer, let alone a table, and food isn’t available at the bar, so after 20 minutes, we fled one of the worst restaurant experiences either of us had ever had, though it was perfect for social media aficionados, even without food or drink.