WVRST, a vowel-less wonder pronounced verst, is a sausage party if there ever was one. Owner Aldo Lanzillotta was inspired by the legendary beer halls of Munich and his own family history to create this communal watering hole and gourmet sausage eatery.
I spent a week in Munich this past summer and, with heavy rains the entire week, I became more acquainted with the beer halls than I had planned. The beer halls of Munich are filled with an old world eclectic charm, boisterous oompah bands and communal bench tables filled with hefty old German men sporting giant mustachios and rosy cheeks from the 5 liters of beer they just drank for lunch. At WVRST, the mustachios are of the ironic variety and the decor minimalist but the beer hall charm is maintained with giant plank tables, perfect for spilling into neighboring conversations.
I came to WVRST with my long lost French love who came to visit me for my birthday. It was relatively quiet for a Saturday night, but it was still only 6pm and by the time we left there was a reasonable queue forming at the till. The decor is certainly impressive upon entering from a short flight of stairs. Rows upon rows of exposed light-bulbs are strung to the ceiling creating a glowing toil of lighting perfect for making beautiful people more beautiful.
We were greeted at the door and led over to a counter with a display case of sausages. Customers order at the till then take a number and wait for their food to be served. The idea is to keep the place casual but it felt a little contrived to stand in line and order at a till; it didn't fit the restaurant and is not typical of a beer hall. I didn't appreciate the menu explicitly telling me to tip - it's Canada, I already know that.
The menu is simple with sausages served either currywurst style or on a roll and regular or duck fat (!) fries to choose from. Despite having only one main menu item, the glorious sausage, there's a surprising range of choice from classic pork bratwurst, vegetarian to foie gras and even kangaroo.
French man went for a traditional Italian sausage currywurst style ($6) while I chose a vegetarian bratwurst in a bun ($7) with a large side of duck fat fries ($6.50) to share. The Italian sausage was sliced and smothered in a smooth, curried tomato sauce.The casing, to my liking, wasn't tough or chewy and the meat was perfectly cooked and juicy. It was, however, significantly smaller than the comically large sausages served up in Munich and even French man, who regularly makes a meal out of coffee and cigarettes, was left a little hungry. If you're making it a meal, go for a double portion for an extra $4, or try two different kinds out of the eighteen different sausages available.
My sausage on a roll (white or whole wheat), came with the choice of two toppings from either caramelized onions, sauerkraut, sauteed jalapenos or sweet peppers. I paired onions and sweet peppers which went perfectly with my veggie sausage. Though I didn't get my whole wheat roll (they were out both times I went), I certainly wasn't disappointed with the white roll. The bread was soft and doughy on the inside with a light crunch on the outside. Sourced from Golden Wheat Bakery and Pastry the bun was a glorious addition to my veggie sausage and filled me up more than the currywurst would have.
Our fries were thick and buttery with duck-fat. I shamelessly ate more than half the portion and would have ordered more if I wasn't trying to stay reasonably classy in front of French man. I was impressed with the choice or not one, but two unique dipping sauces included with the fries, an homage to traditional Belgian style frites with mayo dip. The maple/rosemary was our favourite, sweet with a hint of rosemary while the WVRST sauce was creamy with a hot bite.
I came back a couple days later after a Monday night bike ride for a refueling. I settled on a chili chicken sausage on a bun from the eighteen different sausages to choose from. It was again cooked perfectly and juicy with a hint of spice. I topped it with sauerkraut and sautéed jalapenos, both piled on plentifully, which packed a serious bite made even bitty-er with a little hot mustard. It was an all around spicy sausage affair, exactly what I wanted.
Just like any self-respecting Munich beer hall, WVRST is as much about food as it is about beer. From local Toronto brews like Augusta Ale and Denison's, to European and Japanese imports, the sixteen different craft brews on tap and seventeen different bottles and cans are sure to please Toronto's serious beer connoisseurs. Staff come by to check on drinks but I still would have preferred a regular wait service set-up more typical of a beer hall. With sausages and fries being the only two menu options, the range of combination between meats, toppings and dipping sauces is impressive along side the styled decor and friendly staff. And most importantly, they are some mighty fine sausages.
Mon to Wed 11.30 AM to 10.30 PM, Thu to Sat 11.30 AM to 2.30 AM