Continental Beer Garden Livens Up Rosslyn
Surrounded by skyscrapers, the casual spot is an oasis of bar-food favorites.
Walking up to the new Continental Beer Garden in Rosslyn, it’s impossible not to notice that it sticks out like a sore thumb — in the best possible way. Continental Pool Lounge owner Curt Large planted this festive, colorful beer garden in the nucleus of gray Rosslyn high-rises, and folks are drawn to it like bees to honey. Planters full of crepe myrtle trees around the perimeter give the space a garden vibe, and strings of lights crisscrossing overhead add a festive touch. Both elements offset the fact that you’re surrounded by tall buildings, which also provide a refreshing amount of shade and channel a breeze on hot summer afternoons. Since it’s the beer garden’s first season, Large says he isn’t sure what he’ll do with the space when the weather turns cold.
Former “Top Chef” contender Marjorie Meek-Bradley was smartly chosen to craft the menu, which leans heavily on bar-food favorites. She has a history of making sausages from her time heading the kitchen at Roofers Union, and I’m a huge fan of her sinful smoked brisket sandwiches at Smoked & Stacked. My dining companion and I opted for the bratwurst, accented with sauerkraut and plenty of mustard and served on a pretzel roll; and the pulled pork sandwich topped with coleslaw and cheddar.
We started with the soft pretzel — a bargain at $5 because each order comes with two large pretzels. They’re served with spicy mustard, but it’s tough to resist the option of adding beer cheese for $2 more. The pretzels tasted like they were fried, and this was not an unwelcome development, even for someone like me who adores a traditional, unadulterated soft pretzel. The beer cheese was less of a dip since it was so stiff, but it had a nice, sharp cheese flavor with some sweetness from fresh garlic thrown in.
The bratwurst ($11) was juicy and flavorful, although the kitchen’s decision to put the sauerkraut underneath it instead of on top was a head-scratcher. The pretzel bun soaked up all the juices and left the sauerkraut kind of dry. Also, there was so much mustard on it that we had to scrape some off just to taste the sausage — but that’s not exactly what I would call a hardship.
We were also mystified as to why the pulled pork sandwich ($12) comes with cheese on it. After a bite or two, I had to admit that although the cheese takes away from the classic BBQ sandwich flavor, it adds a creaminess that would be most welcome after one too many beers. All sandwiches come with a choice of chips or salad, but we opted to add a side of fries ($5) instead.
Other sausage options include a half-smoke with grilled onions and cheese, and a chicken sausage topped with kale and artichoke spread. A platter of three —served with fries, a side salad and a pretzel roll — can be ordered for $18. Glances at other tables revealed that the skewers (shrimp, veggie, chicken or steak served over basil quinoa) also looked like a good option.
We hear that management is considering adding brunch, so watch for news on that front.
The Continental experience starts with flashing your ID at the entrance, then sauntering past the bocce courts to the covered bar, where your first task is to figure out whether you want to start with a local or German brew by the pint, can or pitcher, a glass or carafe of rosé on tap — or even red or white sangria. If you start a tab, you’ll get a number to put on your table, and servers will come around and bring you food or refresh your drinks. Otherwise, you can just close out each time and you order from the bar. The website mentions slushies and punch cocktails, but I didn’t see any of those on the menu.
There’s a wonderful “everyone is welcome” feel to the place, which has room for 150, and it shows in the multicultural crowd of couples on dates, parents chasing toddlers and toting newborns, and large groups of friends gathered around the picnic tables. Some folks might be chilling in the lounge seating with their dogs, and up to 30 people can sit at one of the indoor tables to the left of the bar — although it understandably remained empty on a recent night when the weather was nice. Housed in a converted service station, the space continues to embrace its blue-collar roots with refurbished garage doors and vintage gas station signs as part of the decor.
Go, Wait or Skip?
Go. This is everything you want from a beer garden.
Continental Beer Garden is open for dinner Tuesday through Saturday from 3:30-11 p.m. 1901 N. Fort Myer Dr., Arlington; 703-465-7675; continentalpoollounge.com/continental-beer-garden.