Translation from English

Friday, July 26, 2013

Rolf's--the German restaurant with all the glitzy decor

Again, I last ate at Rolf's a long time ago and the food was superb, even if in the decorating (in anticipating Christmas) they had gone a little too far with what one witty woman friend of mine called " the Frou-Frou"!

Let's see what is cooking with Rolf's these days...generally excellent reviews, with a couple of REAL sour apples...but this place was never to everyone's liking in the old days, either

Rolf's Bar & Restaurant

129 reviews Rating Details
Categories: German, Bars  [Edit]
281 3rd Ave
(between 21st St & 22nd St)
New York, NY 10010
Neighborhood: Gramercy
(212) 477-4750
Nearest Transit Station:
23 St (4, 6, 6X)
28 St (4, 6, 6X)
3 Av (L)
Mon-Sun 12 pm - 4 am
Accepts Credit Cards:
Price Range:
Good for Groups:
Good for Kids:
Takes Reservations:
Waiter Service:
Outdoor Seating:
Good For:
Full Bar
Noise Level:
Very Loud
Has TV:
Wheelchair Accessible:

Review Highlights   What's this?

  • "Gluhwein (hot mulled wine) during the holiday season cannot be beat." In 20 reviews
  • "And the Christmas decor is worth the visit alone." In 68 reviews
  • "Lights and decorations and angels and beers, oh my." In 53 reviews
Rating Distribution | Trend
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129 reviews in English

  • Review from

    • 16 friends
    • 64 reviews
    Rolf's is one of the most beautiful restaurant/bars in the Kips Bay/Gramercy area.  They have a fantastic selection of German beers, schnapps, and Riesling wines.  The food is great and they have a lot of authentic German options.  The chicken schnitzel is as crispy as one could hope, and the bratwurst is exceptional.

    You HAVE to try to go during the Christmas season.  They have thousands of lights, garland, and decorations.  It is absolutely beautiful!
  • Review from

    12/29/2012 3 photos 2 check-ins here
    Rolf's was an accident in the finding, but was apparently a tradition in the making.  This year marks the third annual "Go to Rolf's, look at lights and get shitfaced" Christmas gala.  Get the big beer and you'll know what I mean.  BIG.

    A three and a half hour wait at Serendipity III and a nice nudge in the right direction (followed by a cab ride in the right direction) landed us at this magical land of beer, singing, friends, and very tight spaces all those three years ago, and we've been back annually ever since, sometimes even toting awe-faced family and friends.

    Be prepared to drink some good German beer (I prefer the Wifficinchianzen (sp. fail), or as I call it, "The "W" one").  Get up and CLOSE with some people and immerse yourself in the most Christmastacular celebration of trees, lights, ornaments, and the like so close to your face you might actually think you are stuck in a giant tree.

    Beyond the holiday season I see no differentiating allure to the place; i've never had the food...

    It looks fine.
    • Get your Christmas on!
    • Chug. Me. Ah.
  • Review from

    12/28/2012 1 check-in here
    This is the kind of place you go to once to see the gorgeous decorations, take a few photos and then never go back to again because it's insanely overpriced. Like, a pilsner is $13. Thirteen dollars? What am I drinking, beer infused with gold?

    It's undeniably beautiful inside but it does get very crowded and the acoustics of the place are not really meant to house over 100 people.

    I do think it's a great place to take visitors for something really unique, but other places like Panna II in the East Village have a similar decor-in-your-face overkill about them but aren't nearly as pricey.

    I'm glad I went, Rolf's has been on my list for a while but I can't say I'll ever come back.
  • Review from

    *This review is only relevant during the Holiday season

    I want to be so so excited about this place! But my level of excitement dropped every second I was in this bar. It is crowded. Not like, oh cute, this place is crowded, but like OMG I NEED TO GET OUT OF HERE.

    This is not the fault of the bar, its a huge attraction over the holidays.

    So, a large group of us came here for happy hour. Knowing this place is packed around the holidays due to all the LIGHTS and decorations we planned to meet at 6:30pm EST. This is really early! Right?  We could not even walk through the door. This was on a Tuesday evening. A Tuesday! At 6:30pm!

    We took turns going inside (it was that packed, we could literally not all walk in at one time), at least to see the lights for a moment, and I will say, it is pretty freaken cool. It is basically saturated with lights, ornaments and Christmas themed paraphernalia.

    Worth going to see, but I can't imagine a time to go and actually be able to sit and enjoy a drink (especially just seeing this place on a Tuesday!)
  • Review from

    12/19/2012 3 photos 1 check-in here
    I want you to imagine Christmas. Now I want you to imagine what Christmas would be like on a heavy amount of psychedelic drugs. That sums up Rolf's. Though I think going into Rolf's on psychedelic drugs would make your head explode. Rolf's is a great Christmas time tradition that I journey over to once every holiday season. The best Egg Nog in town, hands down. They also have a great beer selection which is not for those looking to have a quick beer. These bad boys are huge. The mulled wine is tasty too.

    I highly recommend you take a journey over to Rolf's this December.... or any December..... in fact every December.
  • Review from

    • 5 friends
    • 12 reviews
    I give Rolf's three stars because I've had two experiences with a 1 star and one a 4-5 star. My first experience with them, I never actually made it in the door.  I began calling the restaurant at noon to make a reservation for the next evening. The phone line was busy for nearly 6 hours. Finally, shortly after 6pm, it rang and what sounded like the host answered and promptly set the phone down without saying a word. I stayed on the line eleven minutes listening to jovial conversation and him greeting customers as they came in (assuming he would, at some point, return to speak to me...nope). I assumed this was their common practice and now I understand why the phone line was busy for more than 6 hours. Whenever it rings they must pick it up and leave it off the hook. Very irritating.

    I gave it a second go with a phone call in the hour just before they were to open and managed to reach someone for a reservation. So, we finally did make it. Overly packed, but once we settled into a table, all was fine. And the Christmas decor is worth the visit alone. Food and gluhwein were amazing. Pork chop is a must have! Dinners were fairly priced, while slightly on the high side, however, anything coffee, wine, dessert were wayyyy overpriced. $13 for the gluhwein and $5 for a regular cup of coffee. Wowsers!  I suppose its worth a try.
  • Review from

    12/28/2012 3 photos 1 check-in here
    ...Yet another holiday season review for the magnificently-decorated Rolf's.  This place is jam-packed with Christmas decorations the same way Rainforest Cafe is with trees, vines, and leaves!

    I came with a friend for a quick lunch, only to discover they don't have a separate lunch menu.  Option A was to split a wiener schnitzel entree, but we instead opted to split a bratwurst and some potato pancakes.  The wurst was good, but not 23 dollars good.  The potato pancakes were nicely fried with a tasty applesauce, but again, not worth the $14 price tag.  Two delicious eggnogs to wash down the whole feast, and we were stuffed to the brim.

    Rolf's is beautifully decorated for the holidays, but to me, still remains a bucket-list sort of place.  I'm glad I came, and I'd be curious to try the wiener schnitzel, but with my already excellent experiences at Zum Stammtisch (Queens) and Heidelberg (UES), it's unlikely I'll be coming back to Rolf's on my own volition.
    • Bar area
    • Decorations galore!
    • Dining area
  • Review from

    • 0 friends
    • 130 reviews
    I really like this place. The decor looks like you are in a Christmas village all year round. The warm spiced wine is a really nice thing. And the beer selection is obviously great. I had a schnitzel like entree that was heavy, but enjoyable. This is a really unique place, but it is definitely worth the trip if you are in the mood for something different.
  • Review from

    • 54 friends
    • 34 reviews
    1/6/2013 1 check-in here
    Wow! It's bright! If you go, it's best during the holidays. Lights and decorations and angels and beers, oh my! Talk about sensory overload! But it sure is beautiful. Great German beer and mulled wine. I had the roasted duck which was fatty (as duck normally is) and delicious, along with mash potatoes (yum!) and the red cabbage (not a fan even before stepping in) If I have one complaint....the German potato pancakes. I'm not sure how I feel about potato pancakes that are smothered in batter. I'm not German so what do you think? Am I wrong?
    Still great meal, great experience, great time. It would have been cool to have a German waiter in that asking for too much? Ha!
  • Review from

    • 6 friends
    • 5 reviews
    I went because I heard Christmas had exploded inside and it was true. I went the first time last Saturday evening; tried to make reservation early in the afternoon and they never answered. I had 2 phones ringing both numbers and I gave up after 20 plus rings. I tried calling repeatedly after an hour and they left both phones off the hook. We showed up anyway and the place was packed, like free food for homeless packed. We gave up when the host told us there would be a 2-hr wait for a table.

    I returned by myself at 6pm on Monday with lowered expectations. This time it was still packed but at least I was able to work my way to the bar to order a drink. Luckily a group of coworkers was on its way out so I stood for only 10 minutes and then I was able to sit down. I had a Jameson and Coke and it was served on a large wine glass filled to the top, definitely worth $14, and there's where my positive experience ended.

    I asked to see the menu and I was told they don't serve food at the bar. I looked around me and noticed most people who were sitting at the bar were just hogging seats with near empty glasses. The bar staff wasn't even busy considering the standing crowd could barely reach around and over sitting patrons to order drinks. Why bother keeping menus at the bar in plain sight??? They wouldn't serve me a $45 goose dish because I was not sitting at a table. Who do they think they are, the Rainbow Room?

    I took my time to finish my drink while surfing the web with my phone, and I made sure one of the seat hoggers' friends got my seat when I left. I'll never go back to this place again.
  • Review from

    One note: I can not speak to the food or 11 months a year that do NOT lead up to Christmas...

    With that being said, this place is Christmas on CRACK! It's awesome! It's like someone bought a warehouse full of Christmas decorations and tried to cram them all in to a small bar. Small is  the key word here, while larger than a lot of NYC bars, it does get very crowded. If you don't mind being crammed in with others or can score a good table, it's great. If you are claustrophobic than you may have a panic attack.

    If you can brave the crowd though the eggnog and mulled wine is FANTASTIC!
  • Review from

    • 17 friends
    • 13 reviews
    Rolf's is an experience.  You want the best potato pancake in town, this is the place to go.  The schnitzel, kraut and sausages are awesome.  Plus, they always have very good beers on tap.  The ambiance is authentic as is the experience.