Brats and the Little Cheese Pub, though technically separate restaurants, might as well be discussed together. They have the same chef, occupy adjacent Chelsea storefronts, and opened within three months of one another.
And they share a theme seen a lot lately, common to places like Macbar, the Meatball Shop, and Crif Dogs: a narrow focus on many versions of just one dish: wieners and sausages at Brats; cheese at the Little Cheese Pub. The chef, Daniel Angerer, has a serious, full-service restaurant, the Austrian-themed Klee Brasserie. I found it underwhelming, but that was four years ago, and much may have changed since then.
That Angerer would open a cheese pub is ripe with irony, as he is best known for putting a recipe for breast milk cheese (his wife’s) on his blog. After the story was picked up in the Post, the health department told him to take the human cheese off the market. He later denied he had served it in his restaurant, but Gael Greene got a private tasting:
Surprise. It’s not the flavor that shocks me—indeed, it is quite bland, slightly sweet, the mild taste overwhelmed by the accompanying apricot preserves and a sprinkle of paprika. It’s the unexpected texture that’s so off-putting. Strangely soft, bouncy, like panna cotta.
If you’re not paying close attention, you could easily walk into the Little Cheese Pub expecting Brats, or vice versa. Indeed, I’d already taken a seat, and had to ask the server why the Cheese Pub menu seemed to have none of the wieners I was looking for.
The Little Cheese Pub resembles a conventional wine/beer bar, with its dark wood faux rural chic décor. There are several long communal tables and a number of two-tops with bar stools. You can order composed cheese platters, cheeses à la carte, or one of a half-dozen varieties of mac & cheese. The French Man Mac ($13; below left), served in a hot skillet, is better than it looks, with morbier cheese, balsam onions, and a hefty duck meat ball.
At Brats, there are eight sausage and wiener entrées, all house-made, $6.95–10.95, from a conventional bratwurst to a French duck sausage. An entertaining illustrated menu shows photos of the dogs, alongside models in seductive poses, with balloon quotes showing “wiener” double ententres.
The server said a similar menu is on the way for the milkshakes, which include such flavors as vanilla with bacon confetti, PB&J with honey popcorn, and the Volcano (not for children), infused with tobacco.
I ordered the Dragon (above right), a pork sausage with pickled kimchee cabbage, pea shoots, and a spicy sriracha mustard—not your standard hot dog, but I enjoyed its slow, tangy burn.
There’s a variety of side dishes (none of which I tried), and a generous selection of wines and beers. They’re all under $10, which makes sense, bearing in mind that this is basically an upscale hot dog stand. Most of the seating in the narrow space is at the bar.
Brats (362 W. 23rd St. between Eighth & Ninth Avenues, Chelsea)
The Little Cheese Pub (362½ W. 23rd St. between Eighth & Ninth Avenues, Chelsea)