WORCESTER – Plant a black, red, and yellow flag and don some lederhosen. Downtown Worcester’s Franklin Street is now home to a small hamlet of German food and culture.
From bratwurst to beer cheese and schnitzel, on Monday, Grid Hospitality Group Chef Terrell Wilson debuted an updated pub menu at the Worcester Beer Garden. Reflecting a sophisticated selection of culturally-influenced and locally-sourced ingredients, Mr. Wilson’s curation hints at an eclectic culinary pedigree, years of industry experience, and spot-on flavor instinct.
The reasonably-priced, 33-piece menu, which Mr. Wilson called “typical bar food, but a lot more elevated” – was built from conception to execution to refinement in just four weeks.
The first of three planned menu updates across the tri-brand company, Mr. Wilson married traditional pork schnitzel and a southern fried chicken sandwich – the perfect pair to a second Saturday-afternoon pint – with two chicken schnitzel sandwiches with opposite flavor profiles.
A buffalo chicken schnitzel sandwich topped with a blue cheese-stuffed jalapeno popper, hits the mouth with a bang. At $14, this crispy patty paired with the heat of buffalo sauce and jalapeno will entice any spice fanatic. Don’t fret, a calmer version of the sandwich – caramelized onions, Dijon aioli, and baby arugula – is available for $12.
Launched on the first day of autumn, the pulled pork slider is the answer to Monday’s change in season. For $11, a diners’ cravings for foliage, apple season, and sweater weather are satisfied with the apple, cabbage slaw piled high on top of the tangy pork slider.
Hitting all the bases, the Beer Garden also offers the traditional burger and fries ($11, $6). But don’t underestimate this usually conservative offering, Mr. Wilson’s bacon-topped
burger and paprika-aioli fries are unlike any other in the city.
The menu’s enigma is a plate called burnt ends, a favorite of Mr. Wilson’s. While the Beer Garden doesn’t offer a dessert menu, these bite-sized pork belly cuts coated with an in-house stout beer barbeque sauce could easily satisfy a late-night sweet tooth. With a maple tone, they offer a toffee-like crunch followed by a savory punch.
Presented in a basket to share, they’re easily a weeknight dinner or the perfect partner to a tall boy.
Echoing his desire to run a sustainable kitchen, burnt ends also allow Mr. Wilson to use all parts of a cut of meat – let alone exercise his creativity.
Continuing the German influence, the menu includes two sausages – a beer-braised bratwurst featuring caraway sauerkraut, fried onions, and beer cheese in addition to a spicy sausage topped with tomato-bell pepper relish and fried tasso ham – as well as a German potato salad.
With vegan and gluten-free options, all are wilkommen im Birergarten. (welcome at the beer garden).
A graduate of Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Mr. Wilson joined the Grid Hospitality team in early August after honing his taste buds and gastronomic awareness with Hilton Hotels & Resorts and the Walt Disney Co.
On Wednesday, a new menu will be rolled out at Craft Table & Bar, “the flagship” of the company, said Mr. Wilson.
A “local, sustainable, and seasonal” focus drives the kitchen – “the heart” of all three restaurants – said Mr. Wilson.
Laughing, he said he may as well get a tattoo of the three-word mantra.
Revolution Pie & Pint’s menu will also be updated in the coming weeks.
Emily Gowdey-Backus is the director of communications at the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce. She can be reached via email.