Bridgeport has a cool new hangout. Yeah, you read that right. The “cool” comes from the good folks that brought Southwestern Connecticut a couple of very good restaurants, Harlan Social in Stamford and Harlan Publick in South Norwalk. This concept is very different from those two.
Harlan Haus—go ahead, pronounce it using your terrible Arnold impression—is a German beer hall. Well, it’s not like any German beer hall you’ve probably been to. German-inspired is the correct description since it’s housed (haused?) inside of an old People’s Bank. High ceilings, lots of white marble, spacious, it’s all that. There’s also a big bar, plenty of wooden bench communal seating, and a game room with foosball, darts, and shuffleboard.
Straight up, it took me a second to really FEEL this place, but I got over it. It’s a super fun atmosphere that was cranked up more than usual because in the house that night was Chef Plum with his Restaurant Roadtrip crew (I tagged along with them for photography) and at one of the big tables was a German dance group. If you combine that with Harlan Haus’ newness—they opened in the first part of January—and a wild Saturday night crowd, “fun” is putting it lightly. “Off the chain” is a more accurate description.
Contributing to that fun vibe is the booze. Don’t be a killjoy, you know booze equals a good time. You could go for wine or a cocktail, but beer is king here and a focal point. There are 10 taps, eight of which are rotating, two are reserved for Hofbräu Dunkel and Harlan Honey Kolsch, made specifically for Harlan Haus by Captain Lawrence. More beer is offered in bottles where you’ll find U.S. craft breweries represented and just as many imports from other countries like Belgium, Germany, and Austria. Try their Honey Kolsch though; it’s refreshing, sweet, and goes down too damn easy. If you’re feeling thirsty, order it in a liter, or grab a two-liter Das Boot if you’re a true beer guzzling boss.
The food at Harlan Haus is likely what you think it might be; various sausages, giant pretzels, pierogis, and hearty meat dishes are represented on the menu. There are some veggie options (But why?! Kidding! Not mad at ya!), sandwiches, and the glorious Harlan Burger makes an appearance too. Most of the snacks and house-made sausages aren’t only tasty, they’re affordable. Classic wursts range from $4-$5 (add-ons, including making it a sandwich can increase that), craft wurst combos on rolls are $7 or $8, and most small plates are under $10. What’s better is that if the place is packed and you don’t have a table, you can order sausages/sausage sandwiches right at Harlan’s Wurst Bar. If you’ve got an eating partner, the best deal is the Half Haus for $45 that includes a half beer can rotisserie chicken, half rack of ribs, three chef’s selection sausages, German potato salad, pickles, beet salad, and sauerkraut.
I got to devour a lot of food at Harlan Haus and I’m still thinking about it not too far removed from my visit. I also left with a good feeling about the scene in Downtown Bridgeport, which needs packed places like Harlan Haus, and new businesses like Eat Noodle (former Can Tiin location). Hopefully this is a sign of good things to come for the area. After one time at Harlan Haus, and after you chug the rest of the beer in the heel of your Das Boot, you’ll know what I’m talking about.
155 State Street
Bridgeport, CT 06604