Jim McCartney acquired his love of beer as a teenager drinking along the waterfront in Breezy Point, Queens. His interest in German food was cultivated by the meals he shared with his dad, a banker, at the German restaurants of Glendale.
Now, McCartney, a former Brooklyn assistant district attorney and Manhattan Catholic high school theology teacher, is embarking on a third career that combines his two early loves. He’s become a restaurateur and bar owner with a long-time friend Bill Daly, with the recently opened Prost Grill & Garten in Garden City, Long Island.
Modeled on a modern Berlin-style bistro and inspired by a Wurstküche, an exotic sausage bar in downtown Los Angeles, Prost offers 24 beers on tap, half of them German, and a menu filled with sausages and more.
Opened since August in a Franklin Avenue storefront next to the LIRR tracks that once housed a dry cleaning shop, Prost brings something different to a main street where the nearest beer destination is the Belgian-flavored Waterzooi.
Daly and McCartney, who had the idea of creating a bar and grill, last year flew out to Los Angeles to check out Wurstküche. “We loved it,” said McCartney. For more ideas, they flew to Munich and Berlin, where they discovered the “modern clean look” of bistros there. They incorporate some of those elements into the design of Prost, though it’s unlikely bar tops and tables in Germany were not made from the reclaimed wood of three bowling alleys as they are at Prost.
McCartney said he went the German route, because he felt the community needed something different. “There’s nothing like this here except Plattdeutsche Park,” he said referring the sprawling, venerable Franklin Square bastion of Teutonic cuisine.
Prost’s draft beer list, not surprisingly is strong with German beers, including Franziskaner, Radeberger, Spaten, Hofbräuhaus, Warsteiner, Weihenstephaner, Tucher and Gaffel Kolsch on draft; as well the local Barrier Brewing kolsch and rauch beer. But three’s also Brooklyn IPA and Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA and Sam Adams Boston Lager, to name a few. Bud and Coors drinkers will find their brews served in bottles.
“We’re constantly exploring diffident beers to be on tap,” McCartney said, noting his surprise that brews from Germany have been out selling the American craft beers on tap. His top sellers, so far, he says, are Hofbräu, Spaten Oktoberfest, Gaffel Kolsch and Weihenstefaner. Glassware, too, matches the brands, for the most part.
The menu, devised by McCartney and Daly with chef Thomas Rockensies, a Culinary Institute of Americagraduate who is McCartney’s cousin by marriage, leans heavily, of course, on sausage offerings. These include traditional German (includes bockwurst, bratwurst and knockwurst), Italian sweet and hot, Moroccan lamb merguez, a variety of chicken sausages, and a variety of exotic meat sausages including venison, alligator and buffalo. There’s even a soy-based vegetarian offering. Toppings include sautéed onions, mushrooms, sauerkraut, onions and peppers, cheese sauce, chili, jalapeno or red cabbage. There’s also a Bavarian pretzel the size of a dinner plate and an Alsatian flame cake, burgersand a handful of German entrees, not to mention Buffalo chicken wings. Sauerbraten is a weekend special.
Sausages, which start at $7, are served on a baker’s roll with a choice of two toppings. A large side of very good fries with dipping sauce adds $5 to your tab. Half-liters of brew start at $7. Full liters are available, too.
Prost Grill & Garten, 652 Franklin Ave., Garden City; 516-427-5215, is open from noon to midnight Monday through Wednesday, and Thursday through Saturday from noon to 1 a.m.
All that’s missing, thankfully, is an oompah band for that we’ll bend an elbow and toast “prost!”