Dish of the Week: The Berliner’s chicken fennel sausage

Media Credit: Lindsay Paulen | Senior Staff Photographer

The Berliner's German street food is an affordable alternative to Oktoberfest that will keep you coming back.

In a COVID-19-free world, millions would be gathering in Munich for Oktoberfest this fall. But a flight to Germany isn’t exactly possible right now, so I settled for the next best thing.

Just a 20-minute walk from campus at 3401 Water St. NW in Georgetown, The Berliner is a beer hall that dishes out German fare and an assortment of craft beers. The pub offers an abundance of outdoor and indoor seating at long picnic tables, so you can share a few drinks with a large group of friends.

The beer menu is extensive and relatively affordable. You can order domestic beers from breweries in cities like D.C., St. Louis and Baltimore, as well as international options from Germany and Austria. A .25L of beer starts at $6, and a full liter starts at $12.

Non-beer drinkers can also sip on a selection of wines like an Italian pinot grigio ($10) or an Austrian pinot noir ($11).

The beer selection is what initially attracted me to The Berliner, but I was unexpectedly blown away by the food selection. The Berliner focuses on German street foods, serving dishes like currywurst ($14) – a fried bratwurst cut into pieces and topped with curry ketchup – chicken schnitzel pitas ($16) and a selection of German sausages.

Each sausage is placed on a New England-style hot dog bun and comes with a choice of topping. You can choose from toppings like sweet peppers, onions, mustardy chili sauce, sauerkraut and caramelized onions. And for just an extra $1, customers can add on an additional topping.

Since I don’t eat meats like veal or pork, I was stoked to see a chicken option on the menu. The dish ($8) was made with fennel, fresh herbs and a bit of white wine. I topped off the sausage with a combination of caramelized onions and beer cheese sauce.

It seemed that the sausage itself was pan-fried – it was golden brown on the outside and glistening. As for the taste, I’m usually off-put by the licorice-like flavor of fennel, but it was cooked down in the sausage, making it milder and slightly floral. The white wine added a slight, but welcome bitterness to the sausage itself.

The toppings took the dish to the next level. The caramelized onions were jammy and sweet, while the beer cheese sauce was decadent, salty and gooey. Even the bun – which is usually an overlooked element of a sausage – elevated the dish with its soft interior and buttery, golden exterior. Paired with my triple peach saison beer ($16 for 1L), the sausage didn’t disappoint.

Georgetown’s restaurant scene sometimes feels a bit touristy or overpriced, but The Berliner stands out from the crowd. With its affordable prices and delicious food and beer, it’s a spot you don’t want to miss.

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