Kardinal Hall: Something old, new, borrowed and brewed

Charlottesville’s beer and food scene, hall-style


Kardinal Hall is a little bit of everything  — an expansive, open floor plan restaurant, a beer hall, an event space — Kardinal Hall does it all. 

Tucker Wilson | Cavalier Daily

Charlottesville’s beer scene is almost as well-known as its food, and because of it, the beer garden concept is a growing phenomenon in town. With a beer garden comes the influence of the alpine region — the world capital of beer. 

The alpine region, and especially Germany, has a well-recognized restaurant style of festive atmosphere, hearty food and a dizzying array of drink selections. Even I, as someone who has never been anywhere near the region, can conjure an image of the iconic European beer garden. The influence of the beer garden is undeniable in Charlottesville’s food and beer scene, and the modern take on the alpine classic can be found at Kardinal Hall.

Kardinal Hall is a modern twist on a traditional beer garden atmosphere. It’s a little bit of everything — an expansive, open floor plan restaurant, a beer hall, an event space — Kardinal Hall does it all. The Kardinal Hall’s layout says everything you need to know about the restaurant — an open floor plan, a bocce ball court, long tables and a bar spanning the entire restaurant.

The Kardinal Hall’s atmosphere comes from the space it resides in. Inside a repurposed Coca-Cola bottling plant, Kardinal Hall uses the warehouse-like space to its advantage. The loud, crowded hall invokes a sense of community and revelry. Its style is eclectic — part rustic, with a wooden bar and matching tables, and part art deco, with industrial lighting and metal accents. Just like its central theme, Kardinal Hall’s interior is a little bit of many things, and yet its central design still manages to feel cohesive.

As you might have guessed, the dining selection follows the same eclectic pattern. Most of their food is German inspired — hand cranked sausages, pork schnitzel and giant pretzels and the influence in non-traditional dishes as well. Even their chicken salad has a dash of spicy German mustard in the recipe. 

However, the food comes from more places than Germany. From their selection of Polish and Italian sausages, to their sinfully savory poutine hailing from Canada, to their offerings of charcuterie and artisanal cheese, the Hall pulls from all regions to serve a menu that spans traditional and modern tastes. They even have a few mixtures of old and new in their cooking, like traditional chicken schnitzel served on fresh-baked bread with bacon aioli and a fried egg, deliciously salty and a personal favorite. 

I’d also highly recommend any of their homemade sausages. They come with an array of possible toppings — though sweet peppers and caramelized onions was a personal favorite. Be warned, however, as the juice soaked — and thus delicious — pretzel bun will fall apart at roughly the fourth bite, forcing even the bravest of eaters forced to go in with a fork and knife. 

I also can’t call my food review complete without further mention of their poutine. A take on the traditional Canadian poutine recipe of fatty cheese curds, brown gravy and french fries, Kardinal Hall cooks their poutine with the cheese curds on top — melting and crisping them just enough to make the dish even cheesier than before. It is the perfect combination of fat, salt, starch and sin. I wouldn’t plan any events for a few hours after eating this dish, but that gravy makes it all worth it.

After you’ve blown past your daily sodium intake on their hearty food selections, you may wash it all down with their wall-spanning menu of drink selections. As the term beer garden suggests, Kardinal Hall sports a long row of draught offerings and more in bottles, but also supports a full cocktail bar, a wine menu, a selection of coffee, kombucha on draught and more. Just like their food, the drink menu caters to all tastes.

However, where I think Kardinal Hall shines best is the experience itself. Kardinal Hall is not your average sit-down restaurant, and on purpose. It sports a board games collection — including Chickapig, its own signature game — multiple bocce ball courts, a ping pong table, televisions — whatever the customer may need to stay a little longer. 

Most impressively, they sport a massive outdoor space, fully equipped with seating and a full bar. They also host nearly weekly events, from game nights to sports celebrations. Kardinal Hall is catered not at the fast eater, but for the group of friends and family — designed for staying a while and enjoying the food, the drinks and the space itself.

Kardinal Hall really can do it all — a family-friendly, German-inspired, community-centric, beer garden with a kitchen to boot. Your night may start with a craving for all the salty and savory goodness of their burgers or sausages, or for a drink with a group of friends, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that night didn’t stretch on to board games, drinks, snack food or more. No matter what you’re looking for, Kardinal Hall’s got it, and the impressive selection beyond that will have you coming back time and time again.

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