Curry Up and Slow Down!


Wechsler’s Currwurst | 120 1st Ave., (bet. 7th St. & St. Marks Pl.) | 212.228.1170 | currywurstnyc.com

YES, I’VE BEEN HANGING OUT at a lot of food joints on the Lower East Side. Mainly because they are enjoying a culinary renaissance at the moment, and partly because I used to live in this neighborhood twenty years ago and find it quite amusing how much the area has changed. (I used to live on 13th & Avenue A on a block that saw several busts a week for apartments—like the one I lived in with LM—that were drug dens, brothels, and, more often, both!)

So it’s fun for me to see all these cool, new restaurants open up on streets that still see their fair share of ripped jeans and biker boots, but also showcase flower-patterned sundresses and baby strollers.

I’ve checked out Caracas, Black Iron Burger, and Porchetta, and coming back home from either of those places, I’ve always passed another little hole-in-the-wall restaurant, Wechsler’s, a happily authentic feeling little German place whose signature dish is something I had never had before: currywurst.

Either you like curry or not; I love it! And as you may or may not know, curry powder is not just powdered curry. In a sense, there is no such thing. Curry powder is a mix of spices that usually include (from Wikipedia) “coriander, turmeric, cumin, and fenugreek in their blends. Depending on the recipe, additional ingredients such as ginger, garlic, fennel seed, cinnamon, clove, mustard seed, green cardamom, black cardamom, mace, nutmeg, red pepper, long pepper, and black pepper may also be added”.

And what I also find out today that there is no curry in currywurst; currywurst is the name of the prep, not the actual food item.

All things that I enjoy learning and that make these food expeditions worthwhile. So I ventured down 2nd Avenue on the M15 Limited bus (they use to called Express a long time ago but Limited is more accurate since there are a limited number of buses that make “express” stops, and there’s nothing “express” about them when it comes to speed). I jump off at St. Mark’s Place and walk a block east and half a block south to come upon this blink-and-you’ll-miss-it store front:


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Inside, pretty much a room, the kitchen/bar taking up one half and a few tables and chairs taking up the other. The decor is charming, and very inviting.


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It’s very easy to slip into “relaxed” mode here, as a couple a business men did while I was eating and I could here their mood turn more jovial by the minute. I sat at the bar and perused the overhead menu of food and drink options.


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As you can imagine, it all seemed very inviting. And having walked in here with good reviews from MenuPages and Yelp and positive write-ups from Time Out NY and New York magazine, I was ready to be impressed.

I had to try the signature dish, the currywurst. Everything here is comfortingly made to order, and one could easily bide their time with any of their wonderfully looking and sounding, authentic German beer…


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…but since it was not even 1 in the afternoon yet, I opted to distract myself with a Sprite. Eventually my $6 currywurst—that comes with a fresh order of pommes frites—arrived, hot from the kitchen, smelling heavenly, if looking rightfully stripped down, simple, and unglamourous.


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Sliced, piping hot, plump, moist, firm, juicy tidbits of German bratwurst covered in the house-recipe currywurst sauce—the ingredients of which were never fully divulged to me, but it didn’t matter—with a side a crispy shreds of potato; it’s a simple dish, but it does everything it’s supposed to do, which is taste good, feel good in your mouth and on your tongue, and make you feel good!

Again, I love curry. I love brats. I love french fries. So it was going to take a lot to disappoint me. But having this made from scratch, right in front of me, fresh from the kitchen, made it better than good. And, honestly, for 6 bucks, it truly tastes even better!

After downing all that (I needed another Sprite to temper that cool yet spicy tang of the delicious curry sauce, topped off with curry powder), the adventurer in me convinced me I couldn’t leave without trying the wild boar sausage. I’ve had boar before—though I can’t remember where—and I was sure someone was going to ask me if I had try the boar and what did it taste like, so I asked for an order.

Again, after a few anxious minutes of to-order grilling, I was presented with this:


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(I know how that looks too! Wasn’t intentional!!)


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I loved this too. If your used to “game” meat, then this wasn’t too “gamey” at all. Subtly seasoned, and served with a richly piquant, hot German mustard, it was served well by the warm bun that accompanied it, as I broke of pieces of the wild boar brat, dipped in the mustard, and folded it into a torn of piece of warm, airy-on-the-inside-crunchy-on-the-outside bread. Talk about having a meal “Old School”; this was “Olde School”! If I had been drinking a beer with this I’d have to be drinking out of a chalice while wearing a bear pelt as a bib!

And the next time I go to Wechsler’s—which will be soon and often—I will have to enjoy the complete experience by having one of their fine beers. I was happy to find that they carried my 20-year favorite brand of beer, Altenmunster…


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…as I also look forward to sampling some of their hearty looking drafts, like this one that was poured for another customer:


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You can watch the bartender, Fritz, pouring a draft beer here.

Realizing that I, too, had fallen into the trap of getting way too comfortable, I metaphorically smacked myself back into reality and realized that I had other things to get to today. Two brats, fries and two sodas only cost me 16; I left Fritz, the counter man/chef/bartender the whole twenty and walked back out into what was now a more oppressive heat (91°?!) to wait for the uptown M15.

As a slight food coma started to set in, and the blinding, slowly weltering heat started to make me a little dizzy, I wondered if the really cute girl who wanted me to donate money to a charity whose anachronym she couldn’t figure out/remember was just pulling my leg. I wondered if I had really bumped into random-of-all-randoms, my friend, Amir, who was scouting a place for another one of his successful Fat Sal’s Pizzarias.

And I wondered if I really saw this ad, in the window of the bodega next to the bus stop, of a bottomless(?!) woman sitting on a toilet with a cigar in her mouth giving me the finger…!:


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Bun Apple Tea!

.kac.


Wechsler's Currywurst Bratwurst on Urbanspoon


Wechsler’s Currwurst | 120 1st Ave., (bet. 7th St. & St. Marks Pl.) | 212.228.1170 | currywurstnyc.com

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