German-inspired food and craft beer bursting with flavor
By Christopher Malone
Rohrbach Brewing Co. has a lot to uphold. It confidently boasts itself as Rochester’s first craft brewery, the establishment pulled from Western European tradition as its starting point.
The brewpub on Buffalo Road in Rochester has no qualms about what the company has going for itself, save the two locations and a distinctive line of familiar beers shoppers have seen stocked on shelves, from its rich malty Scotch ale to the bright and hoppy Space Kitty.
How can anyone forget a beer donning a cat wearing a space helmet?
Aside from clever, whimsical beer names and cans, Rohrbach takes itself seriously on all fronts. Speaking of front, the first impression of the brewpub was warm and clean. Add a friendly staff, especially one accommodating to a 10-month-old and a service dog in training, and the experience is off to a great start.
Of course, we had to order beer by the flight ($10 each). There are too many to go through without going on a tangent, but IPAs Different Animal and Bathed in Light really stood out.
Separate from the bill, a four-pack of Bathed in Light, a New England IPA with bright notes of citrus and pine, came home with the leftovers.
Plus, instead of the five-ounce tasting glasses, Rohrbach’s glasses are generously more, so there is more to enjoy with a standard price for flights.
An easy sell was the tacos because of the “Taco Tuesday” special (three tacos for $11). There are more than a handful of tacos to choose from with the ability to mix-and-match.
The fish taco with golden-fried haddock and slaw was the brightest and lightest of the trio. It was a large, full taco but the fish and the ingredients came across like a beachside treat. The General Tso chicken taco packed a spicy kick a fan would hope for. The heavy-duty garbage plate taco, well, is what you’d expect. The flour taco shell cradled ground beef, macaroni salad and mustard; a sample for the garbage-plate-wary and just enough to satisfy a craving.
The knockwurst and pierogies ($22) came with one of the former and five of the latter, a heap of sauerkraut, sour cream and mustard, and a requirement to share. The bulging potato pierogies with the link of pork and veal added to a memorable trifecta with the kraut. The kraut wasn’t overly sour, but didn’t short on flavor and is one of my favorite takes on the dish.
We enjoyed it but our kiddo scarfed down what we gave her. As much of a mutt in terms of nationality, she allowed her German roots through. She tried reaching for the beers, too, but we had to push those farther away.
The State Street schnitzel ($22) came prepared two ways: the jäger with mushroom gravy or schwarzwarld with ham and beer cheese. Either came with spätzle, German egg noodles similar to yet distinct enough from the smaller and harder distant cousin gnocci and more sauerkraut.
Two large and flattened and crispy-breaded pork cutlets were the focus of the jägerschnitzel. The pork was incredibly tender. The medium-thick mushroom gravy blanketing the meat added to the dish with a rich and slightly salty punch.
Last but not least: the Kaffee brisket plate ($23), which is designated as a pub favorite. Coffee-rubbed tender, melt-in-your-mouth brisket came slathered in the similar brown gravy as the schnitzel. The end of the brisket had my wife and I looking at each other almost skeptically, but don’t judge the brisket by the ends.
The light and dense potato pancake was a welcomed option and it paired well with the meat. Add in a piece of the roasted apple, and this becomes a dream. The fruit was roasted just right, boasting a subtle smokiness and maintaining a crunch to the bite.
Before tip, the bill came to just over $100 and we left with a lot of leftovers.
I don’t want to say there were high expectations for Rohrbach, but there was a lot of excitement leading up to enjoying a visit. It didn’t disappoint in many regards.
3859 Buffalo Road
Rochester, NY 14624
Sunday: noon – 9 p.m.
Monday: 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Tuesday – Thursday: 11 a.m. – 11 p.m.
Friday: 11:30 a.m. – midnight
Sat.: noon – midnight
Rohrbach Beer Hall & Brewery
97 Railroad St.
Rochester NY 14609
Sunday – Tuesday: Closed
Wednesday – Friday: 4 – 10 p.m.
Saturday: 10 a.m. – 10 p.m.