Best of the Borough: Ethnic Eateries - Staten Island - Killmeyer’s Old Bavaria Inn
October 18th, 2006
Most diners might not put “charming” and “boar’s heads” in the same sentence, but a venture to Killmeyer’s Old Bavaria Inn will certainly allay any initial doubts. A quaint, old-fashioned pub adorned with castle crests and colorful flags, Killmeyer’s is among the most authentic German restaurants in New York City. Nestled deep in suburban Charleston, a southwestern Staten Island neighborhood, Killmeyer’s is certainly off the beaten path. A taste of the restaurant’s authentic Bavarian cuisine and distinct musical selections, though, reveals that the bistro is one of the borough’s—and perhaps one of the city’s—finest genuine German eateries.
The restaurant is steeped in German culture, from the hostesses’ traditional Tracht costume, a German dress of lace and embroidery, to the posters of goats and boars plastered on the walls. Dating back to the 19th century, Killmeyer’s is the oldest tavern on Staten Island. The physical bar, a hand-carved mahogany masterwork, is an antique, and parts of the building date back to the 1700s. The building became a true inn and bar when it was sold to Nicholas Killmeyer in 1855. From 1945 until the late 1950s, after the bar was sold to the Simonson family, it was known as “Rube’s.” Finally, in 1995, the Tirado family, the present proprietor, bought and restored the tavern, and renamed it “Killmeyer’s Old Bavaria Inn.”
The restaurant’s most striking, and perhaps proudest, feature is its great display of beer mugs and miniature kegs strung along the rims of the walls. Killmeyer’s even has its own beer garden, an outdoor tavern found hardly elsewhere on the island or across the river. “Killmeyer’s is unique to the city, which is mostly occupied by Chinese or Italian restaurants,” said Ken Tirado, one of the restaurant’s current owners.
The menu is dominated by German food names, but customers needn’t fret over the correct pronunciation of Schweinebraten-waitresses are friendly and extremely knowledgeable. Start off a meal with traditional potato pancakes (four for $5.50) or a spicy beef goulash soup ($4.50). Entrées are dominated by a variety of German sausages served with sauerkraut and smothered in sweet and sour sauces, like the Bravarian Wurst plate ($15) and the Farmer’s Feast ($18), pork roast, bratwurst, smoked chop with potato dumpling, red cabbage and sauerkraut. A pricey but excellent Shrimp Bavaria ($20), fresh pasta with jumbo shrimp, bacon and red onions in a creamy mushroom sauce, is also served and is ideal for sharing.
In addition to the many meat and seafood dishes, there is also a sizeable vegetarian menu. The leafy salads range from the Gemischter ($5), a house salad made of mixed vegetables and tangy vinaigrette, to the Feiner Spinat ($6), a refreshing spinach salad. The best value is the vegetarian plate ($16), a hearty helping of red cabbage, mashed potatoes, potato pancakes and spatzle, or German noodles.
After a round of sausages and salads, Killmeyer’s dessert menu is the perfect solution to lighten the meal. Their selection includes ice cream with rum-marinated fruits ($6.50) and traditional apple pancakes ($5). Their ice cream turns an ordinary dessert into a medley of savory flavors, and the crispy texture of Apfelphannkuchen ($5), buttery apple pancakes, coupled with a rich, sugary vanilla sauce, is a wonderfully luscious conclusion to a filling meal.
Killmeyer’s daily specials are also something to take advantage of-price-fixed meals are offered Mondays for just $15, a $25 all-you-can-eat House Buffet option is available Tuesdays and a $10 bratwurst plate special is offered Wednesdays.
In addition to serving up fine German cookery, the restaurant regularly hosts live music on weekends. “The Happy Tones,” a band of energetic men dressed in lederhosen, performs on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. Customers can even learn to do the authentic “chicken dance” on weekend afternoons. An oompah band, or a Bavarian-style ensemble, the group’s music is layered with the rowdy yet folksy tones of tubas, accordions, clarinets and trombones.
Killmeyer’s is more than an hour’s bus ride from the St. George Ferry Terminal, but the dining experience is well worth the trip. In a city where Italian pizzerias and Chinese restaurants dominate the streets, Killmeyer’s is an atypical experience that combines mouthwatering dishes, an authentic Bavarian décor and live entertainment to offer a refreshing dose of German culture. “It’s just a fun place to be,” said Tirado.
Killmeyer’s Old Bavaria Inn
4254 Arthur Kill Road
Staten Island, NY 10309