|The stein chandelier at Bavarian Bier Café, O’Connell Street, Sydney|
With seven bier cafés across Sydney and a brand new one just opened in Brisbane, it’s pretty easy to experience the essence of Bavaria in our very own backyards. And it proves to be more than just beer guzzling and pork knuckles – though that’s available too, if you so choose.
|Beer and pork knuckle - just like in Munich|
|Stiegl Goldbrau 300ml|
This is impressive given some Australian mainstream beers contain up to 40 ingredients. I’m sure dad’s home brew doesn’t have 40 ingredients, but I’m sure there’s more than four. There’s no addition of sugar in Bavarian Bier Café’s range of Pure Biers, which is what converts to alcohol and subsequent throbbing-head hangovers.
|The Pure Bier menu|
All made without the addition of preservatives, the Pure Biers have a shelf life ranging 6–12 months, depending on the bier. All that work for our drinking pleasure.
|Freshly baked Bavarian pretzel with butter|
Roberta tells us that each Bavarian Bier Café has a team of chefs that cooks the same menu to a staggering consistency. Imagine, chefs in eight venues all making their pretzels daily, with flour imported from Germany no less.
It’s a part of their Pure Food push, highlighting that Bavarian Bier Cafés are not just beer barns – there’s pretty good eating too, using organic and sustainable produce where possible despite the difficulties in sourcing consistent produce for their growing number of restaurants.
|Tomato and caramelised onion tart with goat’s cheese and rocket|
Shall we start with a vegetarian option, perhaps? Pork knuckle free, the tomato, caramelised onion and goat’s cheese tart, topped off with a frizz of balsamic dressed rocket leaves, was a tame start with a short, buttery pastry case and lots of pesto. It’s a great combination of ingredients that should delight both vegetarian and meat-eater.
|Pissaladiere with Crystal Bay prawns and garden salad|
I’m not sure how authentic an interpretation it is of pissaladiere, but it’s a take on pizza and a fresh alternative to traditional Bavarian fare, especially the beautiful prawns.
|Bavarian antipasto platter - (from left, anti clockwise) salami, prosciutto and pork belly|
|Bavarian antipasto platter - (from left, anti clockwise) pork belly, smoked ham and salami|
I skipped the basket of European bread (looked like slices of rye) since I’d already scoffed a pretzel, but couldn’t go past the potato salad with its sweetly spiced dressing, or the sour and crunchy pickles.
The flammenbrot had a herbed soft cheese bottom and was topped with prawns, olives, caramelised onions, button mushrooms and semi dried tomatoes. It was so much like pizza, yet not, probably due to the absence of a salty, melt-y cheese and tomato sauced base. In any case, I think I could have had the whole dish and called it a night.
We'd also moved on to a different beer, the Hofbrau Dunkel, a dark lager that tastes unexpectedly light with some fruitiness marrying with a deep woodiness. I quite liked it but probably couldn't have much more than my 300ml stein.
|Slow roasted pork knuckle served on Sebago mash and sauerkraut |
with Lowenbrau Bier jus
|Crackling roast pork belly with Granny Smith apple compote and sautéed potatoes|
|Jager schnitzel served with sautéed potatoes|
However, the sautéed potatoes managed to save the day – an clever alternative to mash or fries. These small, skin-on slices of potato had been cooked with speck and onion, with both latter ingredients imparting sweetness and richness to the starchy side.
|Oven baked chicken schnitzel served with green salad|
|Bavarian tasting platter|
|Sausages of the Bavarian tasting platter|
|Pan fried salmon fillet special|
I hesitated at the thought of dessert; I was already suitably stuffed after the main, which I couldn’t even finish. Roberta assured me that a shot of Jagermesiter or schnapps, after dessert, would solve the problem as they’re meant to act as digestive aids. I can’t quite recall my last experience with those two shots, but I’m sure it didn’t end well.
|Apple strudel with vanilla anglaise|
|Chocolate delice with summer berries and toasted almond ice cream|
|Walnut and date pudding with honey ice cream|
|Classic lemon tart with double cream|
|Selection of cheeses served with red wine apple compote and lavosh|
|Schnapps and Jagermeister (second from left) - fuzzy, like I was after the shot|
I detected fruity aromas by smell, perhaps cherry, and upon shooting it, it reminded me of the liquid red Panadol medicine we would be forced to drink when sick as children, but much nicer.
It was seriously warming; first the throat, then the lower chest area where it felt like my stomach was squashed up into. And after a while, it did feel like it helped; if anything, just burning through the copious amount of food I'd ingested.
Thanks to Roberta, Dom, Bavarian Hospitality Group and Zing for the lovely feast at Bavarian Bier Café O’Connell Street.