By Sheridan Cyr
Throughout the city of New Britain are countless gems that hold incredibly rich culture. East Side Restaurant is one of those gems where guests can enjoy a true German experience in a breathtakingly beautiful and true-to-its-colors setting.
The two-tier building, located at 131 Dwight St., gives the guest a handful of options. Downstairs, there is a family-style dining room to the right, and to the left, a large, elegant banquet room called the Heidelberg room. It earned its name when local artist Kenneth Larson painted A View of Heidelberg, a mural that spans the walls of the room and takes guests to the city in Germany. The mural is believed to be the largest classical oil mural in central Connecticut.
The building was renovated in 2009 to add the second floor, which holds the Munich room and the outdoor terrace, the Englisher Bier Garden. The Munich room holds a state-of-the-art beer dispensing system which pours a perfect 32° F beer. The Icy Shot Tower dispenses 5° F shots. The Munich room encourages guests to stand at the tables and drink together. The room is also equipped with granite tables that have snow rails to keep beverages cold.
Just outside of the Munich room is the decadent Bier Garden. German flags and vines hang from the ceiling. With stunning scenery, the Garden takes guests to the heart of Germany. Here is where many fans have been flocking too to see the international football Euro cup tournament this summer. Fans erupted in cheers as Germany beat Italy last week in penalty kicks. Free shots were served for Germany’s goal during regulation. As Germany advances to the semi-finals on Thursday against France at 3:00 p.m., it’s surely the destination for German fans and international football fans alike.
East Side has mastered traditional German cuisine over its 70 years of serving the community. They’ve got the sauerkraut, the bratwurst, knockwurst, German sausage, schnitzel, strudels, goulash, the list goes on. Their classic potato pancake dish is unbeatable, cooked perfectly golden brown and served with applesauce and sour cream. Their sausages are authentic as it gets. While many of the menu items have unfamiliar German names, the servers are knowledgeable and helpful in guiding guests to the decision that best fits their palate.
The dishes are undeniably delicious, but the drinks are what ties the experience together. Served with pride are several German drafts. Servers describe the beers to guests using well-known American comparisons. For example, the Spaten Lager is similar to Bud Light, the Oktoberfest tastes like Sam Adams, the Warsteiner Dunkel tastes like Guinness and Warsteiner Pilsner tastes like Coors. Of course these authentic German beers are far richer in flavor then the American comparisons. You’ll have to try one and see for yourself.
A patron of both Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany and a New Britain resident who frequents East Side Restaurant, Jonathan Somerset, raved about the beer and the schnitzel.
“I’ve never had anything that has come close to the tasty German beer and schnitzel I had when I was in Germany,” said Somerset. “When I tried the food at East Side it was like I was back in Munich.”
Beers are served in four sizes: half or full-liter, two-liter “Das Boot” or five-liter Friendship Gauntlet. However, order the smallest size and the whole room will point and laugh. When a server comes out with the larger sizes, he or she yells, “Tickey tockey, tickey tockey” and the restaurant yells back, “Oi, oi, oi!” But, if someone orders the smaller size, they return the call with “Ha, ha, ha!”
The restaurant’s owner, Nick Augustino, has operated the restaurant for the last 17 years, upgrading their beer draft system which has improved their efficiency. This system is thought to perfectly pour a draft of beer, and cut waste. According to Augustino, East Side sells the most Warsteiner beer in the area and he was invited to compete in the Warsteiner Perfect Pour contest.
Until July 17th, patrons can vote for their favorite bartender to be sent to Las Vegas to compete in a “pour-off,” the winner of which will then get to compete in Berlin, Germany for the 2016 Perfect Pour Championship. To vote for Augustino, you can click here.