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German-American Traditions Thrive

There’s an old-fashioned feeling at Koenig’s, a 70-year-old restaurant in Floral Park where German food is served in a comfortable welcoming setting. The large American flag dedicated to September 11th in the main dining room and the group of businessman, gathered in a side room enhanced the feeling of a place that cares about tradition. The men are from a club in Bushwick and they meet at Koenig’s twice a month, says owner William Fitzgerald.

Don’t be fooled by the Irish name. Fitzgerald’s mother is German and he grew up enjoying all the dishes that are served in his restaurant. Fitzgerald says that when he started as a manager at Koenig’s 32 years ago, he was pleased to see that the food there was like his mother’s. He also received early training to be a gracious host as an usher in church when he was growing up. “It was my job to bring people to their pews,” he says.

Generations of community residents have been coming to the restaurant to get traditional German specialties such schnitzel, potato pancakes and bratwurst. A meal at Koenig’s starts with their special bread that is prepared for them by nearby Tulip Bakeshop. This “secret recipe” is the same as when the restaurant first opened.

Sausage is a significant part of Germany’s culinary history and for our appetizer we chose the wurst (sausage) platter of baloney-like knockwurst (pork and beef spiced with garlic), bauenwurst (veal and pork heavy spices) and bratwurst (pork and veal with light spices). All the sausages are made on the premises and the wurst platter is served with black beans, sautéed onions and gravy. Beer and sausage are always a great combination and there are several German beers on tap that include Spaten original, Hofbrau Dunken, Hofbrau Weiss and Krombacher Pilsner.

Fitzgerald says there a lot of history in his restaurant. He is very proud that the New York City Fire Department holds events there year after year and behind the bar is a firefighter’s helmet that had belonged to a friend of Fitzgerald’s and is inscribed with “343,” the number of firefighters who died on September 11th.

For our meal we had pork schnitzel hunter style and sauerbraten, two classic German dishes. Schnitzel is a cutlet that is pounded thin, lightly breaded, sautéed and served with mushroom sauce. An interesting side note: it is believed that chicken fried steak is an outgrowth of this dish brought to the United States by German immigrants. Sauerbraten involves marinating bottom round beef in a mixture of red and white vinegar, water and pickling spice for three to four days and then roasting it in the marinade; it is served with a ginger snap gravy. We also enjoyed a heaping portion of thinly sliced onion rings that had been lightly breaded and fried.

Remember when most restaurants charged less for lunch than dinner? At Koenig’s they still do that. At dinner, too, they also include a “salad of the day” with entrees: cucumber, beet or tossed.

The desserts are either made in house or at Tulip Bake Shop. The apple strudel is packed with fresh apples and the black forest cake is a rich combination of chocolate cake, cherries and whipped cream icing.

Catering is a big part of Koenig’s business and in addition to the main dining room and two smaller rooms on the main level, there is a large banquet hall upstairs that can seat up to 240 people. Koenig’s, 86 South Tyson Ave., Floral Park (516-354-2300).

News

Community gathers together

for 16th annual Liz’s Day

When a young woman named Elizabeth McFarland died of breast cancer, a group of women gathered together for a small meeting and Liz’s Day was born.

On Sept. 27, the 16th annual Liz’s Day took place at the Floral Park Recreation Center. The event featured a used book sale, a Chinese style auction raffle, foods, drinks and music. All of the money raised from the event went to breast cancer research.

A Village of Stewart Manor Board of Trustees meeting turned into a lesson in the values of community engagement on Oct. 6. The regularly scheduled village meeting was attended by a group of Boy Scouts working toward a merit badge who witnessed new laws enacted and speeches from Fire Chief Tom Skinner and members of the Elmont School District Board of Education.  

Members of Troop 134 attended the meeting to gain an Eagle Scout-required merit badge for Citizenship within the Community. They were required to go to a town hall-style meeting and witness a little democracy in action.


Calendar

Firematic Awards Ceremony

Thursday, October 16

St. Elisabeth’s Craft Fair

Saturday, October 18

Floral Park Memorial High School Homecoming

Saturday, October 18



Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com

The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
Written by Mike Barry, MFBarry@optonline.net

Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com