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It’s late at night, and you find yourself in the heart of Williamsburg with a gaggle of hipsters group of friends. As per usual once it’s past dinnertime, all you can think about is sugar. But everyone else in the party wants one thing and one thing only: craft brew — and not in some sleazy, run-of-the-mill bar. At Radegast Hall & Biergarten, everyone’s in luck. There are 12 German, Belgian, and Czechoslovakian beers on tap, seven types of fresh sausages, trendy eats like braised rabbit with mushrooms and tarragon, and yes, there’s dessert to share too (until the kitchen closes at 11:30 p.m.).
For an über-German option, select either a fruit and nut strudel or the pflaumenkuchen (plum tart). We tasted the former with apple, pear, quince, and walnut. It comes with a small scoop of fig gelato, and without it, this plate would hardly be worth the steep $9 price tag. How come? There’s something strangely missing from the strudel, its defining characteristic, in fact. Let’s face it: we grew up with Pillsbury Toaster Strudel®, and the only traditional thing about those frozen, packaged “breakfasts” is the fact that there is a form of flaky pastry.
Instead, Radegast serves its strudel with bread. Yeah, it’s really good bread, but it’s pretty standard bread except for the sweet filling. Although it’s tasty, especially thanks to the unexpected additions of quince and walnuts, the filling hardly takes any culinary know-how to put together (dice, mix, coat with sugar and spice). To complete the strange strudel, raspberry sauce is artfully drizzled on the plate. Wait, raspberry? Apple, pear, quince, fig, raspberry — which one of these things doesn’t belong?
Thankfully, there’s that gelato, bursting with ripe figgy flavor. Despite being frozen, somehow it’s downright juicy with pieces of whole fruit stealing the show. The strudel tasted alone isn’t too exciting — edible, yes, but nothing to return for. With the gelato, however, the whole dessert becomes much more enticing. The gelato disappeared fast, but a couple bites of strudel remained on the plate. Now we know better: for dessert at Radegast Hall & Biergarten, order a cheese plate and a big bowl of fig gelato.