Link 'N' Hops: For Better or Wurst
Smoked pork with cheese and andouille sausages
Even if you'd never been inside Atwater Village's newest sausage-and-beer pub before, passing through Link 'N' Hops' reclaimed-wood door frame might cause a few rumblings of deja vú.
The dark wood, dim lighting and vaulted ceilings might remind you immediately of Würstkuche, which is probably the idea. The recycled-cardboard menus detailing several species of European sausages and triple-dipped Belgian fries might look familiar, too. At this point you're probably wondering if owner Andy Hasroun, who also runs the stellar 55 Degrees Wine next door, has a good copyright lawyer on retainer.
But this is Los Angeles, where imitation is not frowned upon but encouraged, and the idea of opening another place to enjoy a pint of beer and a plump length of seared meat seems just as appealing as it did before places like Steingarten and Wirtshaus dominated the landscape -- so long as it's done right. Unfortunately, Link 'N' Hops -- though only open a few weeks -- might not be off to its strongest start quite yet.
The soft-opening sausage menu looked pretty fascinating -- items like turkey mole, Chinese five spice, jalapeno salmon -- but the current menu has sunk back to playing it safe, subbing in the usual roster of bratwurst, andouille and a few wild-game amalgamations seasoned with things like Marsala and cognac. Of course, it's worth noting that the sausages themselves -- especially the vegan ones, oddly enough -- are actually better than most places in town, well-charred and bursting with fat and spice. The problems arise when they're are smothered in a sea of carbs: a long, dense roll too cumbersome for its humble task. The sparse layering of pickles and limp sauerkraut doesn't help things, either. Those fries, suffice it to say, are more reminiscent of the undercooked wedges at KFC than anything you'd find in Brussels.
Still, if you're the sort of hophead swayed by a row of gleaming taps, you probably will be altogether pleased. The beer list is sensibly priced and well-curated, striking the rare balance between obscure Belgians and local craft brews in a way that you might expect from a place that has a bottle shop next door. The staff is upbeat and informed, willing to discuss their favorite IPAs like a music junkie flipping through a set of old Clash LPs.
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