Welcome October with Werkstatt, Brooklyn’s Newest Austrian Restaurant

Photos by Jane Bruce

After selling his Fort Greene restaurant (now Berlyn) and taking a five-year hiatus in New Jersey, Thomas Ferlesch is back in Brooklyn with his take on German and Austrian cuisine once again—and his timing couldn’t be better. With a menu of schnitzel and spaetzle, soft pretzels and steins of tawny wheat beer, his recently launched Werkstatt is the ultimate place to celebrate Oktoberfest.

Loosely translated to “workshop,” the laid-back corner spot jibes surprisingly well with its remote stretch of Coney Island Avenue, surrounded by garages, gas stations and auto body repair outlets. Spread over two rooms (with an additional outdoor patio, for taking advantage of autumns final, balmy days), the space is outfitted with reclaimed wood, battered license plates from Ferlesch’s personal collection, and a 1960s-era motorcycle, overhanging a pot-bellied, wood-burning stove.

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As for the food, it’s amply proportioned, feel-good stuff; think braised beef goulash, paprika-dusted chicken with sour cream, and caramelized onion spaetzle (doughy, free-form dumplings) served with or without bacon, and sporting a substantial, viscous crust, like a Viennese version of macaroni and cheese. Instead of an array of sausages (more closely associated with German cuisine), Werkstatt delivers with four kinds of Austrian schnitzel, including white meat chicken, sterling silver pork, crispy cod with tartar sauce, and even an option for vegetarians, cleverly constructed out of braised, butterflied and breaded discs of celery root.

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Ferlesch has always been known for handling desserts himself, and at Werkstatt, he doesn’t disappoint; there’s a hazelnut, walnut and almond linzer torte; apple strudel shellacked with sugar and daubed with whipped cream; and thin, rolled pancakes called palatschinken, coiled around dark bands of chocolate or chunky apricot jam. As for the all-important alcohol selection, Werkstatt offers a variety of Austrian wines on draft or by the bottle, as well as a handful of German beers, such as Schöfferhofer Grapefruit, an exceptionally easy-drinking shandy, and of course, Hofbrau Original, one of Munich’s most iconic brews. So raise a glass and say “prost” to Thomas Ferlesch, for finding his way back to Brooklyn, just in time for Oktoberfest.

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509 Coney Island Avenue, Prospect Park South

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