Life is full of odd little coincidences. The longer one lives, the more they seem less like coincidences and more like a glitch in the Matrix.
For example, for reasons known only to the vicissitudes of local advertising agendas, our burger and beer edition happens to also be our Pride edition. And since I can’t think about writing without first driving aimlessly for hours, I had made it as far as Guerneville before my car needed a charge.
I plugged in, strolled into Books & Letters, bought Berlin by Bea Setton, then asked my phone to find me a place to eat. It did, and an AI chatbot called a restaurant on my behalf before I could stop it. Fortunately, the restaurant in question hung up on the robo-call, which I applaud (I mean, why hasten the AI uprising?). Welcome to BROT, which proffers a “modern German concept serving delicious classics in a warm Bavarian atmosphere.”
To be clear, by “modern” we mean contemporary, not a glimpse of the future, which, as anyone who’s visited rural Guerneville knows, only arrives in the rivertown in carefully curated drips (i.e., the car charger). That said, it was there that I tasted the future of hamburgers, a.k.a. the BROT Burger.
Whereas, hamburgers served elsewhere in Sonoma and Napa adhere to the cultural hegemony of the American burger (American cheese, lettuce, pickles, ketchup), BROT makes an assured pivot. Sure they offer the American-style burger (ditto an Alpine-themed variation with Swiss cheese, grilled mushrooms and an aioli), but, as my affable waiter astutely observed when I hesitated, versions of the other burgers are available everywhere—but a BROT Burger is unique to BROT.
With Emmentaler cheese, two types of cabbage (in both sauerkraut and fresh iterations that glow like neon) and a special “haus” sauce, the burger is elegant in its simplicity and complex and powerful on the palate ($20). Served with fries, it pairs well with, frankly, any selection from BROT’s impressive “bier” menu.
I recommend having a liter or two of the Schneider Weisse, original style—a wheat beer that boasts a centuries-old beermaking pedigree, redolent of baked goods, nutmeg and clove.
It was during my second beer that I realized I was reading Berlin, drinking a Bavarian brew and enjoying my BROT Burger, on the eve of Pride in a town dubbed by Insider as a “unique, queer version of rural America.” Right place, right time, in just the right way—I’m definitely living in a simulation.