a newly-opened bavarian beer garden in Park Slope helps make this restlessly changing hood a community of “new friends”
by amanda mccoy • photos by jon Gordon
In recent years, the beer garden concept has exploded, with Williamsburg’s Radegast Hall and Biergarten, Fort Hamilton’s Lock Yard, and downtown’s Black Forest Brooklyn but a very few examples. In Park Slope, however, Greenwood Park, right next to Green- Wood Cemetery, has held sway over an appreciable chunk of the neighborhood. Profiled in this magazine, and thriving more than three years since its debut, the open-air gastropub/brewhall was overdue for a dose of competition, however.
Some has arrived, in the form of The Brooklyn Bavarian Biergarten, an extension of Prospect Avenue’s Grand Prospect Hall, with its grand iron gates and what Time Out New York not inaccurately described as “Disney does Hapsburg” interior. With its multiple private function areas and lovingly restored interior, the 112-year-old structure, owned since 1981 by the Halkias family, can be very safely categorized as one-of-a-kind in the city.
Originally known as Prospect Hall, the building opened in 1892, surrounded by the wealthy German and English residents then populating the Slope. It was meant to serve as a grand meeting place and venue, modeled after the royal palaces of Europe and also to emulate the borough’s then-most awesome structures—the Brooklyn Academy of Music and the grand hall of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.
“Germans used to be sitting in this very garden drinking beer,” Cathy Hay, Public Relations director for the Biergarten (and brewer in her own right) remarked. “So we are really just a nod to a terrific history.”
Conceived as an upscale alternative for Slope (and further flung) suds lovers, the layout seems nearly as much topiary and park as drinks venue, but purists can be assured that its list of drafts reflects more than three decades of event service research.
“There’s wonderful history with just about each and every selection we have here,” Hay said, adding that several of the imports come from one of Germany’s oldest breweries. As one might expect, a considerable number of German beers made it onto the list, however, given the owners’ strong sense of state pride, the roster of domestics consists solely of craft varieties from breweries in New York State.
The menu presents a generous and mixed array of classic Bavarian dishes (such as soft pretzels and assorted sausages), along with down-home classics like chicken wings and fries. Also included are a number of non fleisch options, such as vegan sliders and vegan schnitzel.
Asked what separates his space from so many others, the owner—known to most as “Mr. H”—declared, “It’s a beer garden which is a real garden,” which is demonstrably true. Tall trees ascend just next to the tables, potted hibiscus and mums bring touches of color, and three separate waterfalls add drama.
Mr. H related that staff members find peace in the garden, too, recounting when his banquet hall manager told him, “I sat in front of the fountain for 20 minutes, just gazing at the water…it’s completely mellowing.”
Mrs. H offered that while she had been initially reluctant, her husband had long wanted to bring the beer garden to life, and after seeing what the new space has meant to the community in just a few short months, she expressed gentle guilt for not having opened it sooner.
Mr. H explained that after the beer garden opened, for the first time he realized that he had neighbors, “and neighbors realized that they had neighbors.”
Brooklyn Bavarian Biergarten
263 Prospect Avenue / 718.788.0400 / brooklynbavarianbiergarten.com