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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

At the eleventh hour on the eleventh day of the eleventh month, residents and community members joined with the Floral Park American Legion to honor veterans at the annual Veteran’s Day ceremonies at Memorial Park, following a march down Tulip Avenue to the park with the members of the veterans of the Legion post, American Legion Auxiliary members, Sons of the American Legion, Boy and Cub Scouts from Troops 482 and 678 and local officials.

During the ceremony, a plaque was dedicated in memory of General Kazimierz Pulaski and others of Polish heritage who have served in the U.S. military. The plaque dedication was led by members of the Polish American Congress, Long Island Division, President Grzegorz Worma and Honorary President Richard Brzozowski. An invocation was delivered by Father Peter Rozek of St. Hedwig Church, followed by a POW-MIA ceremony by Post 334 Vice Commander Matthew Cacciatore.

While parking around Long Island Rail Road train stations is typically a challenge, even on a regular work day, the holidays create more of a struggle for commuters in search of parking spots. LIRR spokesman Salvatore Arena said that ridership between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day increases by at least 10 percent; last year it was by 12 percent. Though the MTA is adding more trains to the schedule, that doesn’t ease the parking situation, which is operated not by the LIRR, but by individual municipalities in each town.

“Every station is different,” Arena said. “A good part of our parking is in the hands of the locality. They set the rules essentially.”


Calendar

Floral Park Memorial PTSA Fall Fest Fundraiser

Friday, November 21

Buy A Meal, Wag A Tail

Saturday, November 22

Hanging of the Greens and Potluck Luncheon

Sunday, November 23



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