First look: Food guru Kenji Alt-Lopez’s new Wursthall in San Mateo

He was a chef with an international reputation, but no restaurant to his credit.

Until now.

When Peninsula resident J. Kenji López-Alt opened his highly anticipated Wursthall restaurant and bierhaus in downtown San Mateo on March 12, it was the first such enterprise for the self-described “culinary nerd,” a consultant who has made a career of perfecting recipes for the home cook — from pressure-cooker chile verde to 30-minute risotto. His first book, “The Food Lab,” won the James Beard award for cookbook of the year in 2016.

Lopez-Alt and partners Adam Simpson and Tyson Mao, of San Mateo’s Grape & Grain bar, decided to diversify the city’s dining scene with German beer hall-inspired food and ambiance. They renovated the interior of one of downtown’s architectural gems, the historic building that for years was home to Ristorante Capellini.

Today’s grand opening comes after months of pop-ups and test dinners. We attended a media preview night to get a sneak peek — and we paid, of course, for our dinner, as we always do. Here’s what we saw:

THE VIBE: Imagine a German beer hall redone for Silicon Valley. Illuminated by strings of Edison-style lights, the huge space has a streamlined, minimalist look with long, beer hall tables and benches. And the walls are free of adornment — not a decorative beer stein or Bavarian landscape in sight. With such high ceilings, the noise level on a busy night could rival an Oktoberfest. However, López-Alt has a quiet alternative planned: He’s building out a basement Wunderbar as a speakeasy-style space for craft cocktails and conversation.

THE FOOD: López-Alt has fine-tuned the recipes, from the currywurst with blackened ginger curry, sausage and crisp potatoes ($9) to the chicken schnitzel ($15) that’s brined first in sauerkraut, and the house potato salad (served with wursts) in a …read more

Source:: The Mercury News

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