Come for the Asam Bock, stay for the schnitzel at Rasselbock
By Christina Campodonico
Rasselbock Kitchen & Beer Garden 3817 Grand View Blvd., Mar Vista (310) 439-2938 rasselbockla.com
The sudden November 2017 closure of Louie’s of Mar Vista left a culinary hole on Grand View Boulevard, and locals have been eagerly anticipating the arrival of a restaurant that could fill its place — a friendly neighborhood hangout with crowd-pleasing food and interesting beverages.
Enter Rasselbock Kitchen & Beer Garden, which soft-opened in the space on March 19 in preparation for its grand opening on Monday (April 1). The German gastropub is an import not from Bavaria but Long Beach, home of the original Rasselbock, making it the third restaurant by the team behind the popular Wirtshaus German Restaurant & Biergarten on La Brea Avenue.
So far, it’s a hit. When I arrived at 5:30 p.m. on their soft-open day, the restaurant and its covered back-patio beer garden was already bustling with locals. But rather than a cutthroat queue for a table or winner-take-all dash for the bar, the mood was gregarious and welcoming, like a lively German beer hall.
Patrons young and old — couples with kids, couples without, and packs of friends gathering for after-work brews — happily sipped on drafts from a kaleidoscopic assortment of beer glasses (and breweries) and eagerly cut up Bavarian-style pretzels to share with their respective tables.
Between friendly conversations with diners to my left and to my right, I dove into the sausage platter, featuring three hot and tender German-style links and three house-made mustards. The melt-in-your-mouth bratwurst, the decadent Käsekrainer (filled with a heavenly Emmentaler cheese) and the spicy chicken-mango-jalapeno sausage were all delicious on their own, but rose to another level of perfection when paired with their sauces.
There was a beer mustard made with whole grain, Dijon and Weltenburger Kloster Asam Bock (a fragrant dark beer); a spicy mustard spiked with Chinese mustard powder; and, my personal favorite, a sweet honey mustard made with brown sugar that answered the slight heat of the chicken-mango-jalapeno sausage with a mouthwatering sweet tang.
I also gobbled up three scrumptious mini potato pancakes (a shareable plate contains six), each topped with a dollop of applesauce and swirl of sweet mascarpone cheese. The mascarpone made these babies stand out, and I will definitely remember to order them again.
Just when I thought my taste buds could not be blown further, the Wiener schnitzel arrived and I found myself savoring every pillow-y bite of this perfectly pounded fried chicken loin with a miraculously greaseless outer shell. Squeeze a little lemon on this pièce de résistance, scoop it up with a bit of chewy spätzle, or top it with a light sauerkraut for optimal enjoyment.
The standout schnitzel reminded me of my summer spent abroad in Berlin as an undergrad and travels through Germany, each bite bringing back fond memories and renewed appreciation for the flavors of Deutschland. A cuckoo clock over the bar and a glass case of Bavarian beer steins offered nods to tradition, but the restaurant’s playful contemporary vibe was driven home by antlered jackrabbits on the back wall — a taxidermied manifestation of the mythical jackalope or “Rasselbock” of German lore, from which the restaurant takes its name. (I’m told the theme continues in the men’s room.)
Had I not washed all this down with a flight of four freshly poured five-ounce brews — including a wonderfully effervescent Austrian radler, also known as a Stiegl Grapefruit, that reminded me of a citrusy European soda — and a “Don’t Hassel the Hoff” cocktail that tasted like a sophisticated pink lemonade, but with rhubarb syrup and ginger liquor, I would have ordered the house-made German apple strudel for dessert. I immediately regretted that decision when I saw it glide by on a wooden cutting board accompanied by a huge mound of vanilla ice cream.
Oh well, I will definitely be back for more. According to the soft-open menu, happy hour is served all day on Mondays.