Just when I was starting to get sick of my usual Ypsi haunts (which, coincidentally, is amazing for my waistline and bank account), the Wurst Bar opened on Cross Street.
The Wurst Bar opened on a block of West Cross that I previously was never tempted to go. An atypical Eastern Michigan University student, I was not even remotely interested in this bar when it was Theo’s*. Seriously. I could not have been less interested in Theo’s. (Nor was I interested in the Tower Inn, though I did pop in there for the occasional post-ENG 424 drink with our old Written Communications crew.)
My, how times have changed. The interior of the former Theo’s – gross college bar extraordinaire – has been transformed into something unrecognizable (well, to be fair, I probably wouldn’t be able to recognize Theo’s interior anyway, seeing as how I really never went in there). The menu has undergone an equally astounding transformation.
Ladies and gentlemen, let’s give a warm welcome to the Wurst Bar. Specializing in gourmet bratwursts and burgers, a rotating selection of over 100 veggie burger recipes, and a beer list heavy on craft and microbrews, the Wurst Bar is destined to become Hipster Haven – but it’s also DELICIOUS.
The interior of the Wurst may cause one to wonder if Urban Outfitters opened an Ypsi outpost: the decor is heavy on cardboard animal heads and plastic chandeliers. Vintage movie posters adorn the walls, and black leather (or pleather) banquettes adorn the floor. The menu and specials are written in colored chalk on old-school green chalkboards and the perimeter walls are painted a deep, maroon-y red.
It may take a few minutes to notice all these details, however, as this gloriousness greets patrons upon walking in the door:
The meat case, filled with dreams and promises of what’s to come.
We found a seat (at a little past eight on a Saturday night, we seemed to have hit the happy medium between the dinner and drinking crowds) and perused the menu.
We started with the Curry Wurst Mini Corn Dogs.Served with a spicy catsup and a very garlic-y pimento cheese, these nuggets of perfectly-spiced meat arrived encased in cornmeal batter worthy of any county fair. The combination was heavenly, and we agreed these were a keeper.
The brat menu is divided into two columns: “Usual” – featuring the house specialty, a PBR-poached brat seasoned with marjoram, ginger, celery seed, and coriander; as well as a spicy Italian sausage and a couple veggie options – and “Unusual” – with highlights such as rattlesnake chorizo, a turducken sausage, and a rabbit option. The burger menu was similarly divided, with “Usual” featuring both a beef and a veggie patty and “Unusual” getting a little more non-traditional with the toppings. (A burger AND brat together on one bun? Peanut butter on a burger?) Both burger and brat offered the option of a pretzel or brioche bun.
After much deliberation, I ordered the rattlesnake (mixed with pork and and seasoned with chipotle, oregano, and red wine) – which, according the bar’s website is one of their best-sellers. Diane went for the turducken, which was reminiscent of Thanksgiving with additions of pecans, cranberries, and apples. Noe went all in on where meat was concerned, ordering the brat/burger combo that is the Wurst Burger, served up with sauerkraut and Swiss cheese. We all chose tater tots as our side, Diane and I opting to mix sweet potato and regular tots.
YUM. The rattlesnake chorizo was warm and spicy – the chipotle giving it a slightly smoky flavor. The meat was extremely flavorful as well, though quite honestly I could not discern any notably different taste from the addition of the rattlesnake meat (but that could possibly be because I was distracted by the delicious seasonings). I ate it with spicy stoneground mustard (very zingy, almost a horseradish-like sensation) and sauteed onions.
Diane’s turducken was rich and filling. Her choice of sauteed onions for a topping and the pretzel roll added a sweet and salty element that complimented the richness rather than competing with it.
Noe’s Wurst Burger was an exercise in meat excellence. I pulled a piece of the PBR-poached brat off the burger and ate it by itself – wow. This may be the Wurst Bar’s “basic” brat option, but it is juicy and flavorful and incredibly delicious.
The tots were all extra-crispy (the way we like them) and the sweet potato variety were accompanied by a cinnamon-spiked marshmallow fluff for dipping. I’m not a fan of the sweet potato/marshmallow combo in general but the fluff was greatly appreciated by those at our table who DO enjoy it.
We weren’t overly adventurous in our beer selections – Bell’s all around, Best Brown and Winter White – but none of us are true beer aficionados, though we all enjoy beer and in the case of Diane and I are trying to avoid another potentially expensive tasting hobby. The Rikster did up the beer game when she showed up and order the most amazing chocolately/spicy beer, which was like a Mexican hot chocolate meets chocolate or espresso stout. I can’t remember what it was called, but I’m sure she’ll be able to fill in that piece of information.
PBR is also available in both draft and bottled form. Rikster followed up her heavier dessert beer with a draft of Pabst, explaining that “Drinking PBR is like drinking a loaf of bread – wonderful.” I couldn’t wordsmith it better!
The prices were extremely reasonable – the beers tend to run in the $4.50 – $5.00 range and brats/burgers range from $5.75 – $7.00. The quality is hands-down higher than the price.
The Wurst Bar is an excellent addition to Ypsilanti and gives that section of Cross Street a much-needed boost of creativity. Definitely check it out next time you’re in the mood for meat or just need a break from Depot Town (don’t we ALL need a break from Depot Town now and then?) – maybe we’ll see you there.
*I mean NO disrespect to the operators or patrons of the former Theo’s – as I said, I was an ATYPICAL college student!