The Dish: It being Oktoberfest and all, we figured it would be appropriate to dedicate this week’s Versus to the beloved bratwurst. Whether you like beef, pork, or even veggie dogs, this time of year there’s something comforting about biting into a big, juicy link and washing it down with a cold beer. With so many brats to choose from in this city, the toughest part of this challenge wasn’t eating our weight in sausage, but trying to narrow down the challengers.
The Rivals: Bratz, 4759 Brooklyn Ave. N.E., 523-1680, U DISTRICT. What started as a small walk-up window under Cedars on the corner of 47th and Roosevelt is now a full-fledged German restaurant. The guy who owns Bratz used to be a cop in Germany. He said he decided to move to Seattle because there was a need for good bratwurst. He’s right. More important, he’s lived up to his promise of providing a good product. The Red Brat ($4.65) is a mix of pork and beef, and comes on a homemade bun. The small bun is almost laughable, but it’s a sturdy sucker that cradles the girthy brat like a prized trophy. Topped with sauerkraut, this brat is incredibly juicy, and not overpowered by any condiments (those you can find in squeeze bottles on every table). Our only complaint is that the bun wasn’t long enough; every bite resulted in the brat nearly sliding out of its soft, chewy pouch. It really was a hassle. A tasty hassle, but a hassle nonetheless.
Uli’s Famous Sausage, 1511 Pike Pl. #206, 839-1000, PIKE PLACE MARKET. You can’t hold a brat-off without including Uli’s, a Market mainstay. The friendly German giant known as Uli Lengenberg is Seattle’s very own master butcher. And now that he has a cafe next door to his meat counter, he’s attracting even more fans. Uli’s German Bratwurst ($7.25) is considered a menu classic. The pork brat is mild in flavor—no spices, just some citrus—and served in a fresh baguette with white-wine sauerkraut, grilled onion, Dijon, and housemade curry ketchup. During our most recent visit, Uli’s was out of grilled onions, and our brat came a little dry. Fortunately, what the sausage lacked in moisture, the kraut made up for. The friendly kitchen staff also threw on a couple of raw chopped onions, which added some zing to the brat and made us feel like we got our money’s worth.
The Champ: Both these brats gave us the urge to book the next flight to Germany. But this is Versus, and there must be a winner. We liked the actual sausage at Bratz better, but as a total package, Uli’s wins the brat battle. A bun that can withstand the power of a strong sausage is an oft-overlooked component, and Uli’s nailed it.