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Biergarten Haus, Atlas District - German Food and Beer Garden at 13th & H Streets NE

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We were looking for a place to watch today's World Cup game, when I read about a NEW place called Biergarten Haus on H Street, right next door to the Rock N Roll Hotel. Apparently they just opened a couple of weeks ago. Given the 99 degree weather, the outdoor BeerGarden didn't sound quite so appealing at 2pm, so we went elsewhere (Flanagan's Harp & Fiddle in Bethesda), but LATER (around 7pm) we decided to check it out.

It's a 21+ only place, so it's not a kid friendly place to dine. Once you walk in, you feel as if you've walked into a nice, dark, cold bar in Germany, with oodles of German beers on tap...giving you a feeling that a good rendition of OKTOBERFEST is about to ensue. As you walk past the bar, you see the entrance to the large open air Biergarten. A very celebratory high tent top loosely covers 2 huge projection screen TV's, numerous wooden tables & benches, tables for 2 on actual beer barrels & an outdoor bar. A walk past that bar puts you passing the small stage where a fun LIVE polka band was playing & leads you to the truly outdoor Biergarten, covered only by HUGE outdoor table umbrellas & a fully blooming Fig tree.

With so many German beers on tap & no clue what to order as I'm generally not a beer drinker, my boyfriend correctly suggested the yummy Franziskaner Hefeweizen, a smooth, ever so slightly sweet (but not like a Lambic) beer with clear tones of banana, honey & clove. A DEFINITE choice for non-beer drinkers or those that would like a soft & smooth refreshing beer.

With all the right ambiance: outdoor Beergarden, live Polka band & yummy beer, we of course, had to try out the food which looked incredible.

We all got the DELICIOUS Knackwurst Platter (veal, pork & fresh garlic) with the YUMMY sauerkraut (cooked with stewed apples, Caraway seeds & bacon) & the potato cake (taste was OK, but it wasn't crisp or memorable like its plate companions), topped with a tasty fresh white bun.

After the more than satisfying meal, although quite full, we all decided that when in Rome (or a Biergarten), you gotta try the Homemade Black Forest Cake...and boy are we glad we did!! rolleyes.gif Rich sweet creme, soft & moist German chocolate layer cake & tart cherries, all topped with generous shavings of German chocolate.

Ohhhh...I almost forgot. Don't expect to only hear live polka music & German drinking songs (plenty are played), but we were also treated to a sudden random karaoke rendition of Garth Brooks' "I Got Friend's in Low Places" huh.gif Silly but fun, because it was only that one song.

You could see they are still not fully up & running as we saw 3 empty mounted TV wall brackets in the full outdoor Biergarten. We overheard that they are waiting to have murals painted outside before installing those TVs. My friend who lived in Germany for over 1 year said he was definitely feeling this place, the beer & the food.

Definitely a new favorite hang out spot. biggrin.gif

Curious to hear what others have to say about this place.

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They're going to put TVs in an outdoor Biergarten?

Please tell me I misread.

From what I understand these are just projection screens for showing the World Cup outside and aren't permanent fixtures

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From what I understand these are just projection screens for showing the World Cup outside and aren't permanent fixtures

There are sort of 2 Beergardens. The 1st one has a very high open air ceiling with a tent top, but is open to the elements on one side & has the 2 giant projection TVs against the wall. Those TVs could perhaps just be for the World Cup. But the other beergarden is completely Al Fresco, with only HUGE table umbrellas & a Fig tree for shade, and that's where we saw the 3 permanently mounted (yet still empty) TV brackets on the wall. We even saw the HDMI cables hanging from the roof to the TV brackets. I think they are waiting to have the outdoor cabinet enclosures built & the murals painted before mounting them. You have to realize that indoors, besides at the downstairs & upstairs bars, there are TVs, but NO seats or tables.

I forgot to mention that the beer prices are quite reasonable & most of them are on draft ($6 for a .5 Liter & $10 for 1 Liter). Oh... and the Spicy Mustard (WOW that was good). Next time will definitely try it with a pretzel :)

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Nice place...liters are more like $11 or $12 ($17-$19 for Doppelbocks). And the weisswurst is griddled instead of poached, so it comes way overcooked and can only be peeled by hand. I also hope they are able to get onto Churchkey's coattails and allocate a tap or two to a less well-known brewer.

And, pretty pretty please, Holzfassen? They'd probably have to get a local brewer to do them, but mmmmmm I do like me some bier vom holzfass.

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It's a 21+ only place, so it's not a kid friendly place to dine.

No, its actually very family friendly. When we were there last weekend, there were tons of kids both indoors and outdoors. However, anyone under 21 must be accompanied by a parent with the same last name for World Cup events. I'm not sure what their general policy will be.

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No, its actually very family friendly. When we were there last weekend, there were tons of kids both indoors and outdoors. However, anyone under 21 must be accompanied by a parent with the same last name for World Cup events. I'm not sure what their general policy will be.

Oh OK...so during World Cup, that makes more sense. What did you think of the food & beer?

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The Germany/England match on Sunday was my first time there and I have to say I'm pretty impressed, beyond the hiccups that are to be expected with a new place drawing such obscene crowds. The ambiance is gemütlich inside and festive outside. (I'm glad they kept downstairs free of televisions--now if they'll just have a stammtisch that I'm invited to, I'll be all set.) I saw plenty of kids during the match and all seemed to be enjoying themselves. A place like this should be family friendly, especially outside and downstairs.

The few hiccups, which I'm sure will be resolved in due time: didn't have any food because we were told that we couldn't order any food during the one hour that they shut down the kitchen between breakfast and lunch (from noon to one). The kegs seemed to have some temperature issues--the hofbrau helles was coming out much warmer than is normal (I'm not an American that demands ice-cold beer, so it wasn't a big deal, but I assume it wasn't intended). Also, when I ordered a Märzen, was told they only had bottles, which was fine. But the barkeep should have mentioned it was a Märzen rauchbier. It was too busy to bother telling him that he should warn people next time. I enjoy rauchbiers--but it's something you should definitely warn customers about because it's such an acquired taste.

I look forward to returning during the world cup final when Germany beats Brazil--and after that, I look forward to leisurely weekend afternoons and evenings eating and drinking outside.

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This place made my German husband cry tears of joy. We tried this place out for a friend's birthday and I'm having trouble getting him to go anywhere else. Most of the beers have fresh taps, and the ambiance is pretty swell, but the neighborhood can be a little sketchy. If you are looking for the Bavarian beer experience, this is as close as you're going to get. If you want good Belgian (and slightly better food), stagger down the street to Granville Moore's.

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We had a show at the H St Playhouse tonight & stopped by Biergarten Haus. I had decent schnitzel, but the accompanying rotkohl was not as good as mine, and the spatzle was heavy. Our service was great, and we loved the atmosphere and music. Not worth a special trip, but if it was closer to home I could see spending a lot of time on the patio listening to polka music.

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We went last Friday. There were 4 of us.

We drank our way through the Oktoberfest beer list, enjoying them all. The service was fine, if a little odd. She checked on us SO often that we couldn't decide if she was bored or we worried her.

We also got food to share - pretzel rolls, currywurst, and pork shank. All good. We hoped for a few more options on the menu, but enjoyed everything we had.

So, it was fine. Then we got the bill. The menu says that they will auto-grat any parties of 6 or more at 20%. As I said, there were 4 of us.  And there was an auto-grat on our bill. We looked at it, wondering why it was quite so high, and saw the auto-grat. So we asked about it. And the waitress was quite flustered. And she said, "I'll check."

We did what we always do when this happens - look at the bill, consider if they deserve the tip that has been applied. If so, they get it, but not a penny more. If not, we complain and insist that it be taken off, leaving what we think is appropriate. Either way, it will be a long long time before we go back to a place that does this to us. So, we decided to let it stand, but to make it plain that this bothered us.

Note that much of our food and drink was ordered during happy hour, so we probably would have tipped a bit more than the auto-grat.

She came back, and told us, "The manager put it on by mistake." This didn't make any sense to us. And there was no apology. She said, "I can take it off." We said, "Fine, but at this point, it makes no difference. This is a problem. It should never have been put on." We paid and left.

Some day, I will figure out a good way to handle this. For now, I guess I will stick to being annoyed, pointing out the problem, and avoiding places that do this.

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So, it was fine. Then we got the bill. The menu says that they will auto-grat any parties of 6 or more at 20%. As I said, there were 4 of us.  And there was an auto-grat on our bill. We looked at it, wondering why it was quite so high, and saw the auto-grat. So we asked about it. And the waitress was quite flustered. And she said, "I'll check."

We did what we always do when this happens - look at the bill, consider if they deserve the tip that has been applied. If so, they get it, but not a penny more. If not, we complain and insist that it be taken off, leaving what we think is appropriate. Either way, it will be a long long time before we go back to a place that does this to us. So, we decided to let it stand, but to make it plain that this bothered us.

Note that much of our food and drink was ordered during happy hour, so we probably would have tipped a bit more than the auto-grat.

She came back, and told us, "The manager put it on by mistake." This didn't make any sense to us. And there was no apology. She said, "I can take it off." We said, "Fine, but at this point, it makes no difference. This is a problem. It should never have been put on." We paid and left.

Some day, I will figure out a good way to handle this. For now, I guess I will stick to being annoyed, pointing out the problem, and avoiding places that do this.

Probably a separate thread, but why does it bother you if you were planning to tip that much or more?

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Is it places that do this, or servers who do this?  Kind of sad that the whole place suffers for a couple individuals, but I understand.

I had a friend who stopped going to a place because one particular server was basically stealing from him.  He always paid by credit card, would tip and sign the merchant copy, and then either leave the customer copy or rip up the customer copy and leave the refuse.  Apparently the server would turn his 20% into something much larger, and he didn't catch on at first and didn't keep his credit slips for a log.  But, he ordered the same thing there everytime, and noticed that his credit card statement would have different amounts for the same meals.  It was that one server.

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Can't speak for Biergarten Haus or their operating system, but operators on the whole have become incredibly sensitive to the ability of their employees to violate the trust placed in them by guests.  Unfortunately, the reality is many people are out for the quick buck regardless of how shortsighted or inscrupulous it may be.  Many operating systems have safeguards in check which (at the owner/operator's discretion) require managers to add the "auto gratuity" for a server.  My gut would tell me that, regarding saf's experience, a manager wouldn't even be inclined to look at a table of four's check without reason much less add the auto-gratuity by mistake.  This sounds like a server who knew they could manipulate the system.  SAF, as an operator, I would always beg you to ask or question circumstances like these, not only so you keep your well-deserved money in your pocket but so the dishonest people are taken out of the system and get what they deserve.  

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Probably a separate thread, but why does it bother you if you were planning to tip that much or more?

It bothers me because I have known FAR too many servers (I was a bartender and a waitress for a number of years, long ago) who would do that, hoping that the customer would not notice, so that she/he might get a double tip.

It bothers me because I have known far too many servers who would do that if a table was primarily women, or black, or foreign, because they were profiling the customers.

I am willing to bet that she thought we had drunk enough (or should that be, she thought we were drunk enough) not to notice, and that she hoped to get a double tip. With no evidence of that, we didn't cut the tip, because the service was fine. But it's pretty annoying.

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Is it places that do this, or servers who do this?  Kind of sad that the whole place suffers for a couple individuals, but I understand.

I see what you're saying, but I have no way to know if it's the one server or the whole place when this happens the first time we go somewhere, and I don't really have a reason to give them a second chance.

If that were to happen someplace I am a regular, I would speak to the manager, and expect a decent explanation, an apology, and they would stay on my list.

Although, we gave up going to another place that had known us for years. We eat a lot, we drink a decent amount, no we aren't rowdy - we're polite and not too loud really. Anyhow, this other place - we went in with 9 people. Ordered a ton of food and were enjoying dinner. A table in the other part of the room had an infant that screamed non-stop from about the time our apps arrived until we left. The staff did nothing to mitigate the noise, despite being asked. And they put an auto-grat on the tab. It was disclosed on the menu that they would do that to groups of 6 or more. I would have expected them not to do that to longstanding regulars who they KNEW tipped very well. But they did, and it was on the menu, so it was legit.

Still, that night the service was sub-par, and they added an auto-grat without making it obvious that they had added it. The check was not well itemized, and we spent a LONG time figuring out, ok, that's food, that's bar, that's tax, what's that. It was NOT clearly labeled. That one we argued, because they fell down on the service between not assisting with the noise and tacking on the auto-grat. And that one, I think, shows a problem with the whole place, because the server was one we had had before, and we spoke to the manager at one point during the night, and there were still problems.

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On a related note, years and years ago I was in some bar/restaurant in Washington (I think it was in Washington), and ordered food and drinks, and then more drinks, then maybe more food, more drinks...you know, that kind of thing. When I got the bill (and I always examine the bill and will correct a mistake even in my own favor), I saw that with each successive order the tax was calculated on the new subtotal, not the new order. That is, they were charging tax on the earlier tax as well as on the food and drink, repeatedly, compounding madly as they went. This was presumably a programming error, not an error by whoever was ringing these things up. It was actually pretty funny.

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Unfortunately, the reality is many people are out for the quick buck regardless of how shortsighted or inscrupulous it may be. 

And that is why it annoyed us so much. That is exactly what it looked like.

We tip well - really quite well. We are polite, reasonable people who like to eat and drink well. Servers who do their job well have earned a good tip, as our system currently works. Thinking you won't get a good enough tip and trying to pad that tip is not doing your job well. It's trying to take advantage of your customer.

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Is it places that do this, or servers who do this?  Kind of sad that the whole place suffers for a couple individuals, but I understand.

I had a friend who stopped going to a place because one particular server was basically stealing from him.  He always paid by credit card, would tip and sign the merchant copy, and then either leave the customer copy or rip up the customer copy.  Apparently the server would turn his 20% into something much larger, and he didn't catch on at first and didn't keep his credit slips for a log.  But, he ordered the same thing there everytime, and noticed that his credit card statement would have different amounts for the same meals.  It was that one server.

This is one of the reasons why I always try to tip in cash.

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This is one of the reasons why I always try to tip in cash.

I tip in cash, and write "cash" on the slip, because when I used to wait tables, I had a manager who would hold credit card tips for WEEKS, and would take a large cut from them for himself.

Sometimes when I do this, people assume it is so the server doesn't need to declare it. No, I always declared my tips, and I assume that waitstaff will do what they believe is right. I think they should declare them, but I am not trying to control that. I'm just trying to make sure they actually get the tip!

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I tip in cash, and write "cash" on the slip . . .

Yup. I do this, too, just to make sure that nobody can write something on that line--and to let everybody in the restaurant know that I didn't stiff anybody. Mainly I try to tip in cash because, if you put the tip on a credit card, the credit card company gets a percentage of the tip. Screw that.

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We went last Friday. There were 4 of us.

We drank our way through the Oktoberfest beer list, enjoying them all. The service was fine, if a little odd. She checked on us SO often that we couldn't decide if she was bored or we worried her.

We also got food to share - pretzel rolls, currywurst, and pork shank. All good. We hoped for a few more options on the menu, but enjoyed everything we had.

So, it was fine. Then we got the bill. The menu says that they will auto-grat any parties of 6 or more at 20%. As I said, there were 4 of us.  And there was an auto-grat on our bill. We looked at it, wondering why it was quite so high, and saw the auto-grat. So we asked about it. And the waitress was quite flustered. And she said, "I'll check."

We did what we always do when this happens - look at the bill, consider if they deserve the tip that has been applied. If so, they get it, but not a penny more. If not, we complain and insist that it be taken off, leaving what we think is appropriate. Either way, it will be a long long time before we go back to a place that does this to us. So, we decided to let it stand, but to make it plain that this bothered us.

Note that much of our food and drink was ordered during happy hour, so we probably would have tipped a bit more than the auto-grat.

She came back, and told us, "The manager put it on by mistake." This didn't make any sense to us. And there was no apology. She said, "I can take it off." We said, "Fine, but at this point, it makes no difference. This is a problem. It should never have been put on." We paid and left.

Some day, I will figure out a good way to handle this. For now, I guess I will stick to being annoyed, pointing out the problem, and avoiding places that do this.

I just read this, so let me offer my thoughts, for whatever they're worth.

I was with you, up until the penultimate paragraph. It may (or may not) be true that "the manager put it on by mistake," but I would have taken the server at her word, paid it (assuming you wanted to leave 20%), and thanked her for checking - she already knew you were bothered by it, so the additional comment seems superfluous to me (but again, I wasn't there, so I can't really "judge" the situation).

Can't speak for Biergarten Haus or their operating system, but operators on the whole have become incredibly sensitive to the ability of their employees to violate the trust placed in them by guests.  Unfortunately, the reality is many people are out for the quick buck regardless of how shortsighted or inscrupulous it may be.  Many operating systems have safeguards in check which (at the owner/operator's discretion) require managers to add the "auto gratuity" for a server.  My gut would tell me that, regarding saf's experience, a manager wouldn't even be inclined to look at a table of four's check without reason much less add the auto-gratuity by mistake.  This sounds like a server who knew they could manipulate the system.  SAF, as an operator, I would always beg you to ask or question circumstances like these, not only so you keep your well-deserved money in your pocket but so the dishonest people are taken out of the system and get what they deserve.  

That having been said, I also read Christopher's thoughtful response, and I agree with him more than I agree with me. :)

I would be very surprised if the manager auto-tipped a party of four - I hope Biergarten Haus reads this.

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I just read this, so let me offer my thoughts, for whatever they're worth.

I was with you, up until the penultimate paragraph. It may (or may not) be true that "the manager put it on by mistake," but I would have taken the server at her word, paid it (assuming you wanted to leave 20%), and thanked her for checking - she already knew you were bothered by it, so the additional comment seems superfluous to me (but again, I wasn't there, so I can't really "judge" the situation).

That having been said, I also read Christopher's thoughtful response, and I agree with him more than i agree with me. :)

I would be very surprised if the manager auto-tipped a party of four - I hope Biergarten Haus reads this.

Without wanting to belabor the point much more or wage a war of semantics, I would also offer if a server says they "can take it off" a check, they didn't need a manager to put it on the check.  At the very least, the server was innocently delinquent in failing to review the check before presenting it.  Worst (and probable case), this is a server targeting holes in a business' system and the people who patronize (or used to) the business.

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Without wanting to belabor the point much more or wage a war of semantics, I would also offer if a server says they "can take it off" a check, they didn't need a manager to put it on the check.  At the very least, the server was innocently delinquent in failing to review the check before presenting it.  Worst (and probable case), this is a server targeting holes in a business' system and the people who patronize (or used to) the business.

I don't think you're belaboring the point, and I'm reasonably convinced by everything you say here. Thanks for your thoughtful insights. Or would that be your insightful thoughts? Either way, thanks! <--- That was an attempt at (lame) humor, much needed in a situation such as this one. :)

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