There’s a lot of places running around calling themselves “beer gardens” these days, but while most deliver on the “beer,” the “garden” part is often overlooked. Providence’s Biergarten not only spells the name correctly, it also get the German beerhall vibe about right.
Tucked away on Federal Hill (it’s on Spruce Street near Caserta’s, not on Atwells Avenue as you might presume), Biergarten sets the tone for communal drinking with long tables that seat multiple parties, both inside the two-level restaurant and on the outdoor patio and deck. We came on a quiet spring weeknight, so unfortunately the upstairs satellite bar and deck weren’t open, but we settled into a picnic table on the patio and found ourselves in the friendly hands of waitress/Dirndal girl, Sosi. We were a bit surprised to find just two German brews on draft — one tap of which had run dry — but at least the survivor was the Weihenstephan Hefe-Weizen, one of our personal favorites.
We took Sosi at her word that the giant Riesenpretzel was the way to go for beer-friendly appetizers, and while $9.95 seemed like ambitious pricing for some twisted dough, there certainly was enough pretzel to share between two; we took turns dipping into the cheese sauce and mustard that came as sides.
Round two had us exploring the bottled beer, namely the mild Reissdorf Kolsch found among the four German entries on the imports list. Thus primed to check out the dinner menu, we aimed right for the Chicken Schnitzel sandwich — a handy poultry take on the classic veal cutlet dish that was deep fried to crispy perfection and topped with bacon, cheddar, and sauerkraut. If you have your heart set on veal, you’ll have to opt for the weisswurst or the bratwurst; on Wednesdays, you can get your choice of sausage and a draft for $9. A side of red cabbage helps up the authenticity factor.
Our early Friday arrival was greeted by a sign noting 30% off for “unescorted ladies” — a deal we think both sexes can get behind. The sparse crowd and lingering spring chill meant few people joined us outside, but as the temperatures rise we expect that the Biergarten patio and deck will be fairly bubbling with gemutlichkeit in the coming months. We’re looking forward to a return visit soon, but until then, we say Prost! to a nice new ethnic addition to the Providence drinking and dining scene.