Let's set sausages aside for a moment to discuss the topic of Rocky Mountain Oysters, for it surely takes an ample pair to name your new Mount Lookout restaurant "Wurst Bar in the Square." You've got to be a seasoned chef, confident that your menu is compelling, delicious and can stand on its own once patrons process all its clever puns and allusions.
Chef Ryan Terry is such a man, armed with a resume that includes stints at Jeff Ruby's Steakhouse Belterra, Chart House in Newport and Cafe Martin Downtown. He and owner Bronson Trebbi teamed up more than a year ago, playfully teasing Mount Lookout locals with a sign on Linwood Avenue that had read, "Prepare for the Wurst." Now a month old, Wurst Bar in the Square fulfills their vision of a hip yet casual watering hole offering a well-rounded menu of inventive starters and soups, gourmet sausages, hamburgers and decadent desserts.
"There was a lot of collaboration between [Bronson] and I on [the menu]," says Terry. "We can do these different kinds of sausages and make them more kind of gourmet-ish, more kind of foodie trendy-ish, but still be the Wurst Bar."
The restaurant has 15 tricked-out sausages showcasing local meats from Wassler's Meat Market, along with vegetarian dogs from Avril-Bleh. Ground sausage is stuffed into natural hog casings, while veggie dogs receive a rice paper casing treatment, lending them a natural snap with every bite.
Wurst Bar's dogs rest on a choice of three types of uniquely crescent-shaped buns, all specially designed by Giminetti Baking Company.
While working with Giminetti, Chef Terry told their baker, "I want it to look like a smiley face, no different than how the curve of the sausage [gets] when it cooks. I just want to be able to fit [it] down in there like a pocket yet have sausage come out of each side." Bun options include a light, soft Italian; a sweeter, denser Brioche; and a hearty, nutty four-grain bun.
Wurst Bar visitors can choose among a choice of five appetizers, including the chorizo tacos, made with ground chorizo, mole, pico de gallo and a punchy Sriracha slaw tucked into crispy, puffy taco shells. The Wurst Disaster is the bar's take on poutine, a mini cast-iron skillet filled with fresh-cut French fries, cheese curds and a sliced German mettwurst, all topped with a house-made pork gravy.
Each signature sausage at Wurst Bar enjoys at least one featured slot on the menu, accompanied by a hearty stack of fries and christened with whimsical titles like the Hustlin' 14, a house-made, chili-topped dog whose name is a nod to a certain former Reds player deserving his spot in the Hall. The Hip Senator is an andouille sausage smothered in fire-roasted green chilies, red peppers and sweet and spicy mustard. Ferris Bueller fans will appreciate the Abe Froman, a twist on the Chicago-style beef hot dog with neon relish peppers, sauerkraut and fries.
A single, stuffed hamburger graces the menu, whose name, the All Time Wurst Burger, belies its complexity. A blend of veal and ground short rib, its two 4.5-ounce patties are formed around a cheddarwurst core, topped with crispy onion straws, American and cheddar cheeses and served on a pretzel roll.
"When you bite into it, you'll get the feel and the snap and the crunch of the mett but the beef is just so tender and rich that it all kind of flows," Chef Terry says.
Patrons can cap off their sausage feast with "The Wurst Ending," a choice of two over-the-top desserts. The Fat Elvis is a tempura-fried banana, peanut butter and chocolate sauce-infused pastry puff fit for The King. The Crispy Apple Wench features fried cinnamon apple wontons served with caramel sauce and Graeters' vanilla bean ice cream, Chef Terry's take on the classic McDonald's apple turnovers near and dear to his heart.
"They're done with Granny Smith apples and I'll cook it in the caramel sauce to get that rich flavor but not the tartness," Terry says.
A carefully selected lineup of craft beer and mixed drinks are on tap, with many bottles displayed in a vintage Bevador beer cooler.
"The Moscow Mule in the copper mug is just ridiculously good," says Terry.
Wurst Bar in the Square
Go: 3204 Linwood Ave., Mount Lookout
Hours: 4-10 p.m. Monday-Wednesday; 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Thursday; 11:30 a.m.-2 a.m. Friday-Saturday; 11:30 a.m.-8 p.m. Sunday