Beautiful day, Saturday, so my wife and I decided to stroll along Fifth Avenue in Park Slope, something we haven't done in a while. (Apparently, it's a popular stroll, given the number of pedestrians and the hustle and bustle.) We walked from our abode on PPW to Die Koelner Bierhalle, just to try it out. We had very recently visited Greenwood Park, the new beer hall on 7th Avenue and 19th Street, and we were interested in comparing the two.
Die Koelner Bierhalle is even newer, created in a converted lumberyard on St. Marks Place, just off Fourth Avenue. DKB is situated in a large, spacious setting that reminds one of a warehouse. The benches/tables are set up pew-style, with a middle aisle. When you enter, you can claim a seat at any of the benches that are unoccupied, and a waitperson will come by to take your beer order (but not your food order).
Or you can do as we did, which is to walk up that center aisle and sit at the bar to the left at the head of the aisle. The bar seats are heavy stools, reminiscent of butcher blocks, that are more comfortable than they appear at first. The bartender, Jacob, genially greeted us and immediately poured two small tastes of German lager, a very nice touch. My wife isn't so much into German beer as I am, so she went with a Gruner Veltliner, and I opted for one of the samples Jacob had kindly provided.
For food, the routine is you go to the grill (which is situated where the altar would be if the space were actually a church), and you give the grill person your order. Check out their website for your options, which are pretty much either hamburgers or sausages. You pay the grill person there and then and get a receipt, and then you go back a little later to see if your order is ready. Not the best system, but it worked OK for us on Saturday. Prices are very moderate, around $6 for a sausage hero (which is just a sausage of your choice on a roll, with or without sauerkraut). They also serve up heated pretzels, which are quite good.
They practically make a fetish of glassware, completely the opposite of Greenwood Park, where plastic cups are your only option. Apparently each of the German drafts (and possibly the bottled beer as well) has its own glass. Some are tankards, some are mugs. You can order by the half-liter or the liter. Jacob was very proud of the glasses, showed us several of the tall glasses they use for the various wheat beers.
All in all , we liked Die Koelner Bierhalle a lot, partly because we enjoyed chatting with Jacob, the very affable bartender, and partly because of the food, which was good and inexpensive, and partly because of the setting.
So our vote is for Die Koelner Bierhalle over Greenwood Park.
When we finished we strolled back along Fifth Avenue and stopped at Pork Slope, which had opened recently to great fanfare. Our first visit. Place was about half full, but REALLY LOUD, not from music, but from the patrons. Bar stools are uncomfortable, apparently designed to prevent loitering at the bar. Plus they told us they didn't have any white wines at all, despite the menu saying otherwise. All these things were very effective at getting us to leave, which we did.
We went next door to the High Dive, which is aptly named. One guy nursing a beer at the window, gazing at passersby. Another guy sitting at the bar, also nursing a beer, staring into space. Some people out back, in the garden, blowing cigarette smoke into the bar space. One female bartender involved in an intense (and loud) conversation with a lady friend at the end of the bar. One drink each for us and out, and then home.
The great thing is, we REALLY enjoyed our walk. Loved seeing our neighbors, in all their guises, wandering around the neighborhood, didn't mind the disappointing (for us) visit to Pork Slope, and thoroughly enjoyed our beer hall visit.
Long live Park Slope...