We pulled up to a brick-facade house, nondescript and built in the generic style of so many other mass-produced homes of busy Long Island suburbs. The parking lot was a narrow one; I worried about having to back up into busy Hempstead Turnpike after being stuffed too full of pretzels, schnitzel, and eggs to twist my body around to see. We got out and walked in, slightly confused. It felt more like an apartment building in Queens than a restaurant, and looked nothing like the pictures I’d seen. The mystery was solved as we were directed out of the historic gathering hall and toward the back, where a gorgeous, timbered building stood in a massive biergarten space, complete with picnic tables, giant games, and a permanent food stand set-up that was closed on this sunny Sunday.
Walking into the main building, we were instantly struck by an impression of honeyed woods, rich golden tones lending warmth and light to a massive space with an equally massive bar that opened up into the biergarten grounds. It wasn’t hard to picture hundreds of dancers and revelers taking to the dance floor in front of the big stage at the opposite end of the bar, their faces lit by the soft glow of the oversized, pillar candle-style chandeliers that hung from the sky-high ceilings.
We ascended black metal stairs to the dining space upstairs and were happy to take over a small table next to the railing overlooking the bar below and near the long row of flags that draped lazily over it all. Next to our table was the omelet station, and across from it was a garage door that was open to let the sun shine in and the breeze blow by, leading to an outdoor terrace.
The table proved to be too small for our appetites, but the coffee was hot and good, service was excellent and friendly, and the food quickly satisfying due to its hearty nature. We didn’t linger long since we got full very quickly here, but had a few cups of coffee to the sounds of the band playing to visitors sitting in the outdoor space; they remained in the shade on the line of the retractable wall, so the music was really for everyone. In this relaxed, kid-friendly, private party-ready offering, its once a month scheduling makes it novel and keeps it fresh, plus allows families to try the place out with their young ones so they can come back and party at the special events or at night.
When the chef hails from Austria and a quarter of the people dining there are speaking German in this historic community center, my expectations for authenticity are high by default. However, a buffet is only ever a baseline for the quality of the food, and for that, I’m very excited to return for dinner, which is a la carte. For brunch, the selection was not as wide as I’d expected and nothing truly dropped my jaw, but it was good, satisfying, and hearty, filling you up for the day. What was nice (and authentic to Central Europe) was that sweet dishes only hinted at sweetness rather than bashing you on the head in decadent American style, desserts weren’t even missed since proteins were more a focus, providing great value. The rotation of all the items kept everything fresh, hot, and well-circulated–all big bonus points for food quality when it comes to a brunch buffet.
- My first stop is always the baked goods/pastries table so that I can budget my appetite, and I was both disappointed and relieved to note that the bagels and muffins provided seemed pretty commercially-produced and generic. There was no bread or toast variety to speak of, but I was surprised not to see any kaiser rolls.
- A sizeable tray and variety of fresh fruit and berries was nice, and meant to accompany the plain and “honey” yogurt. This was conventional, and not Greek yogurt, so it was a little runnier and sweeter than I was used to.
- One of the things that attracted me to this brunch was the fire-braised turkey breast with cranberry orange relish. They feature that on the static menu as a standard, but there was no cranberry orange relish to speak of; I made do with the excellent and not-too-sweet lingonberry jelly. The turkey was skinless and fair, not dry but not super juicy either.
- The highlight of the meal was, without a doubt, the Westphalian schnitzel, hammered-thin slices of pork cutlet breaded to a light crispness that managed never to get soggy in the tray. A generous layer of Swiss cheese was melted over the ham that sat on top of the schnitzel, but this ham is really only an added bonus and not entirely necessary since the flavors of the pork was already excellent. To make it true Austrian-style as a nod to their Austrian chef, ask for lemon wedges and juice them over the meat.
- Another favorite was the mini sausage, egg, and cheese pretzel sandwiches. The little pretzel rolls are baked in house (although the dough is not made from scratch on premises), so they come out warm and fluffy, and sprinkled with coarse salt. The density of the knotted rolls was innately satisfying–doughy but soft. The egg on the sandwiches were real eggs and fluffy, undersalted to better balance the grilled bratwurst and pretzel roll, but in a smaller quantity and proportion than I prefer. A good hack is to add scrambled eggs from the other tray. The cheese was American and the sausage is made in-house, which is a plus for those fans of bratwurst. Personally, the texture of boiled sausages is not my favorite, but the flavor was very good.
- The blueberry pancakes were four inches across and cunningly rolled around a blueberry and apple mixture as a vehicle. The texture of this filling was akin to that of pie–slightly gelatinous and not a mash. The pancake batter itself is plain with no mix-ins, which was kind of nice since nothing competed with the apple-blueberry compote-like filling, and not overly sweet. It was fine with butter, but a dab of the individually packaged Smucker’s breakfast syrup from the buffet table restored some moisture.
- I was initially excited about the lingonberry crepes, whose size was just perfect for a little taste. They were also on the drier side, even with the lingonberry jam/sauce, and again, not overly sweet, keeping things light.
- Buffet scrambled eggs are usually either terrible or great, and these were very good. Fluffy and very clearly real eggs are always a plus.
- Omelets were made to order except for what they labeled as a western omelet, which was really just a scrambled egg round wrapped around limp peppers and onions and pretty bland. However, the omelet station was never crowded, and the mix-ins had all the standard options plus Muenster cheese, which you rarely see.
- The menu lists German cold cuts and cheeses, but it seemed to be fairly basic.
- Pecanwood bacon they may have, but I usually steer clear of buffet bacon since it’s generally deep-fried in large batches. This didn’t immediately appear to be an exception, so it wasn’t sampled, along with the Potatoes O’Brien, which seemed to be given the same treatment.
- Coffee was hot and bottomless, with attentive servers that provided top-offs every few minutes.
- Boot beverages are a draw, and at $20 for a 1.5-liter drink for the table, it’s definitely enough to satisfy. Available is the Spicy Helga (Bloody Mary), Guten Morgen (Mimosa), or German Delight.
- Orange or cranberry juice was on offer.
- A specialty beverage is The Bee’s Knees, a honey tea made with Baerenjaeger for $6
I loved …
- The big, sunny space and live German music
- The unhurried but attentive service
- The lack of a long line at the omelet station
- That the beer hall menu was also available–I’ve heard rave things about the imported giant pretzels from Munich
- The food rotation cycle; nothing was left to sit too long and dishes remained hot
- The Westphalian shnitzel! I could have eaten this all day
- Others might enjoy the fact that attendants served the food behind the chafing stations for sanitary or just service reasons. I like to control my own portions, but that’s just me.
Plattduetsche Park: 1132 Hempstead Turnpike, Franklin Square
- Days: Every last Sunday
- Times: 11 AM – 4 PM
- Menu: Rotating
- Type: Buffet brunch, $22.95
- Promotions: $20 Big Boot of Mimosas, Bloody Marys, or German Delight; $11.95 for kids 12 and under
- Yelp Reviews | My Review – Very Good