Loreley on increasingly trendy Rivington St. on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, is a German-style Biergarten and restaurant that understands the hospitality basics. Once a staple of New York City socializing, this rare open-air picnic-table retreat echoes Cologne’s “Brauhaus.”
Restaurant owner Michael Momm says the beer is imported from Germany, the food is German-style comfort food, and the tables were made by a carpenter who builds furniture for brewery pubs in Cologne.
But the similarities with what most people think is a typical German restaurant end there.
No jolly fellows swaying to folk music, no waitresses in dirndls, no cuckoo clocks on the walls, no yodeling. Nor does Momm fit any of the stereotypes.
Michael is a professional musician, DJ, and music producer. He represents the younger generation of Germans, people who grew up with German traditions but are able to translate them into a contemporary lifestyle.
Loreley is named after the legendary siren who sits on a rock high over the Rhine and lures mariners to their death.
Michael says the restaurant, which opened in 2003, fills a gap in New York City’s gastronomic landscape, where German-Americans, although a large ethnic group, are underrepresented.
Among the more than 17,000 restaurants in New York City, less than twenty are German, and almost none that cater to the under-fifty crowd.
German Gemütlichkeit, a concept best approximated by “coziness” in English, means people sit together at long wooden tables, which allows socializing, especially when major German sports events are being broadcast live.
Except for the chestnut trees, which are typical for beer gardens in Germany, the graveled beer garden in the back of Loreley looks very much like the German variety.
The traditions of the Rhineland and Cologne, where Michael grew up, have been a source of inspiration for Loreley.
In addition to Kölsch, the beer of Cologne, which is served in the typical narrow glasses, about 20 major German beers are available on tap or bottled, as well as German wines.
The menu includes German staples and regional foods. Being lured by this Loreley to downtown Manhattan offers the ageless pleasure of German food and drink — without the Lederhosen.
Twelve imported German beers flow along with Loreley region wines, spirits, classic comfort fare and an affable, efficient wait staff.
At least none of them are pouting about not being on Broadway yet, so it’s nice to see it’s more than a day job to them.
What’s not to like about a Manhattan backyard fresh-air party minus the honking taxis?
Skip the calorie paranoia. Loreley Williamsburg coming soon.
7 Rivington St.
New York, NY
Phone: (212) 253-7077
On the Web: Loreley