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Bjoern Risse’s German-centric biergarten is what I would venture to say is somewhat the definition of this list.

I say this because it isn’t new—it’s been around for years—it doesn’t garner the fame of staples—because it’s not that old—and its quality remains consistent to the point of being wondrous, particularly in the time when COVID has prompted mass menu changes, alterations in food prep and shifts in presentation.

Risse has the simple wonders of German food down pat: A plump, perfectly chewy housemade pretzel offers one the choice of spicy mustard or a wonderful concoction of cream cheese and paprika, which can easily be enjoyed on its own. There is sauerkraut so perfectly tart and balanced that one can get it as a side (and I suggest you do). Cucumbers and fresh dill tossed in a sour creamy coat. Mini potato pancakes, fried to a salty crisp that is cut with a dollop of apple sauce, mascarpone cheese, and chives—add a drizzle of fresh lemon juice and they’ll easily become your favorite new appetizer.

And there are the more complex. His schnitzel, braised and breaded pork loin fried to a perfect crisp, is heavenly on its own, but one can amp up the decadence and choose a style, like the house Rasselbock Schnitzel, which has your loin glazed with a garlic cream sauce and topped with an overeasy egg. His selection of wurst—ranging from the traditional brat to one stuffed with jalapeño and cheddar to two vegan options—reminds one that even the knottiest, almost grotesque of sausages, with their excessive plumpness and charred skins, have an elegance all their own.

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