"Yoko, they have rattlesnake and alligator sausages," my friend told me of this place called Wurstküche in Downtown LA. For some reason I imagined Lisbeth Salander goth types sitting around a table eating rattlesnake sausages with forks and knives.
To tell you the truth, I wasn't at all interested in the rattlesnake or the alligator-- I was craving a solid German sausage. (Add your own joke here). And so it was Wurstküche for dinner on my last night in LA.
I had the absolute pleasure of meeting fellow UM writer Sarah Nevada moments before we all hauled ourselves downtown for some wurst.
Wurstküche is situated in a brick building in a not very well-lit area surrounded by converted lofts. The first thing to notice is the line that hugs the wall on the right side of the entrance. We went on a Sunday night at 8pm and the line consisted of about 20 people, which may be a torturous wait if you are really hungry, but I didn't mind it too much since I was full from a cocktail that I ingested 20 minutes earlier.
Once we advanced in the line into the store (it took about 10 minutes), a friendly guy with a notepad approached us and asked us what we wanted to drink. I don't drink beer so I refused his kind offer. My cousin got a huge dark beer possibly bigger than the size of her head (okay, possibly an exaggeration, but look at the photo!).
The beer comes from the "wall-of-taps" I discovered later as I arrived at the cash register.
The approach to the cash register includes a chance to ogle at the display case packed with sausages.
And ogle at what comes off the grill...
And out of the fryer...
I ordered the Apricot and Ginger (chicken and turkey in a lamb casing) with my two toppings being sauerkraut and spicy peppers. My initial reflex was to get the Hot Italian, but I think we ordered two or three within our party so I figured I'd get plenty of chances to sneak in a taste. I also ordered a large order of fries with Curry Ketchup and Pesto Mayo.
The meal was delicious in part because they nailed the atmosphere. Communal tables made out of long slabs of wood was ideal for the meal - it incites rowdiness over sausages and beer. It could have been a little brighter so I could see how appetizing the food looked. Another plus was that everything was very clean. Tables were bussed promptly and the kitchen was well lit and uncluttered.
None of us got the rattlesnake or the alligator and I think that was for the better. It is a hot topic of conversation but even hotter, I think, was the Hot Italian. The Apricot Ginger was very good, but I wasn't really into the two small sausages in one bun deal. Next time I will opt for one big sausage in its own bun. My favorite was the Hot Italian although many at the table agreed that the Duck and Bacon with Jalapeno Peppers was the winner. We also ordered an array of sauces for the fries - none of which I specifically remember (except for the ones I ordered). The clear choice for me was the Curry Ketchup. The Pesto Mayo didn't really taste like pesto and I could have easily mistook it for Sundried Tomato Mayo if it wasn't for the color. Oh, but props to my cousin who ordered the white truffle oil glaze on her fries. Those were fine, fine, fine without any sauce.
I learned something at Wurstküche: Act on initial reflexes when ordering food. Prost.