Sunday, 20 July 2014

Bavarian Bier Cafe -

What an interesting turn of events. I'd been invited along to check out the Bavarian Bier Cafe a while ago and kept putting it off, there just always seemed to be something else on or somewhere else to eat.  I finally made a concerted effort to make a booking for lunch, but I needed to pick the right person to dine with, after all, the Bavarian Bier Cafe was as much about the beer as it was about the food.  I thought long and hard about which of my mates I'd bring along and decided that sometimes lunch buddy and former work buddy C would fit the bill.  After all, we would be doing a beer flight and it would be wasted on me.

Now I'm not saying C is a booze hound, I'd leave that up to him to say, but he does like a drop of the amber fluid and it had been a while since we'd enjoyed a break away from the office for a meal.  It was a freezing cold Friday afternoon in Brisbane, the type of day where the southerly breeze is blowing in and making the city and uncomfortable place to be.  The type of day that would be perfect being in a warm environment and eating some comfort food and sinking a few to boot.  As I made my way to Eagle Street and the Bier Cafe, I had my hands in my pockets and was just trying to keep warm as the cold breeze did its best to strip me of life.

I'd been to the Bavarian Bier Cafe once before with another mate, quite some years ago, and of course am a local, so I knew exactly where I needed to go.  Located just upstairs from Grill'd at the Eagle Street precinct, the Bier Cafe occupies a huge space and is right next to Sake (see post here). There was no way I was waiting outside for C to show up, so I made my way inside and was shown to my table, which had fabulous views of the Story Bridge.  While I was waiting, one of the waiters kept me entertained for a while and we chatted about many things, one of which was the loaded question 'had I been there before?'.  I was quite upfront in noting that I had been, a few years before, and had left pretty disappointed with the meal and the value.  Recovering quickly, he noted that both their food and approach had improved significantly over the years - phew (but I thought I'd know more in an hour or so).

Once my dining companion arrived and we'd spent some time catching up, we decided that we'd better look over the menu and get lunch under way.  Reading like a catalogue of traditional German fare, there were quite a few options that took our fancy.  I was reminded of my time in Germany a few years back (pre blogging days) and struggled to settle on what we wanted, there were just so many options.  We eventually settled on a platter, which would cover quite a bit of the menu.  But before any of the food came out, the beer flight that we'd ordered magically appeared before us.

The beer flight came in two options, three beers or five and wanting to get the broadest selection, we settled on the five.  Look, I'm not a drinker but I thought I'd at least have a go, so I could understand the flavours of the beer and I asked for shot glasses of the beer, just a little taste.  I'm not sure what it is with the Germans, but the concept of not drinking is quite alien to them.  In fact, during our time in Berlin, when I ordered water with dinner, more often than not I'd get a big glass of pilsner instead.  So was the case here, my shot glasses ended up being the full glass size, but only filled three quarters full.

Our five beers consisted of a pale ale, a pilsner, a dark larger, a pale wheat (ale) and dark wheat (ale). Being the trooper that I am, I thought I'd give it a crack, knowing that there would be no way I could drink all of that beer and remain remotely sober.  I started with the pale ale, which was surprisingly mild in flavour and went down OK - well, the first half of it.  I thought I'd better try a little bit of the other beers before the went warm (it was toasty and warm inside) but as I progressed down the line of beers, the became heavier and more bitter.  At the end, I'd pretty much had less than a full glass of beer - I know, lightweight.  C on the other hand quite enjoyed his beer and managed to suffer through all five glasses, with the dark larger being his pick.

The beers, all ten glasses, took up a lot of space on our table and when our starters were delivered, the table disappeared.  Looking to get as many German tastes in as possible, we went for the Bavarian delikatessen platter for two which consisted of pork pâté, cured and smoked hams, pastete, pork belly, kassler, mixed pickled vegetables and haus-baked bread.  Essentially a board of cold cuts with some house churned butter and warm crusty bread.  It's a very European thing to eat cold cuts on bread and after I lathered some butter on and slapped some smoked ham on, I could see why.  It was a really simple idea but went down a treat, especially with the beers on the go at the same time.

I was intrigued to see if a Bavarian prawn cocktail with a Bavarian cocktail sauce would differ from any other countries prawn cocktail.  It didn't.  I guess a prawn cocktail is a prawn cocktail.  We had some large fresh prawns presented on a bed of ice and a rather red and spicy cocktail sauce to dip them in.  They were great but I'm not sure if they were particularly German.

Starters out of the way, it was time for main course and we'd gone with the best possible choice to sample most of the menu.  The Munich brewers platter for two was huge, simply huge.  Consisting of crispy pork belly, port terrine, a huge roasted pork knuckle, four different haus-made sausages, chicken pork schnitzel, sauerkraut, red cabbage, creamy mash potato, granny smith apple compote and a Löwenbräu bier jus, it was the granddaddy of all meals.  

I didn't know where to begin with quite possibly the biggest plate of food I'd tried to consume but eventually went for the pork belly with salty crispy skin.  It was beautiful but once I'd tried the haus-made sausage, I'd put it out of my mind, the sausage was tasty and had a great texture.  C was less enamoured with the sausages but completely bowled over by the pork knuckle, which had so much crackling on it I'd thought we'd died and gone to heaven.  The pork knuckle had the most intensely flavoured meat and when combined with the crispy crackling, it was a winner.  In fact, the whole plate was sensation, with perhaps the exception of the pork terrine, which seemed a little lost on a plate with so much food.  

We were seriously stuffed and felt a little bad about leaving quite a lot of the food unfinished, but in reality, it would have been enough food for four people.  We also wanted to leave a little room for dessert.  Looking over the menu, we actually ignored the more traditional German desserts of strudel and black forrest cake and went for something a little more contemporary.  C opted for the sticky date and walnut pudding with a butterscotch sauce, which looked more refined that the behemoth main we'd just left behind.  It was a great pudding with some nice texture from the walnuts and C loved it, but my observation was that it could have used some more butterscotch sauce, but that's just a personal taste.

I'm currently in a lovely debate with one of my best mates about what a fondant is, I won't get into too much detail about it but CI, I've got you covered.  With this in mind, I chose the chocolate fondant with peanut butter ice cream.  It was the perfect fondant, turned out on the plate and once I'd cut into it, the soft and gooey centre oozed out onto my plate.  It was quite rich and I was thankful for the ice cream to balance out the chocolate but I didn't get a strong flavour of peanut, it more tasted like vanilla.  It's a shame, I think a strong peanut ice cream would have been perfect with the chocolate.

Reflecting back on my first visit to the Bavarian Bier Cafe, this visit could not have been more different and my waiter for the day had got it right, the food had significantly improved from my first visit.  The presentation of the food was spot on and it hit the mark in nearly every area, perhaps the terrine and the peanut butter ice cream being the only minor issues.

For such a large space, it really filled up, particularly on a Friday afternoon and there was quite the vibe going.  I found it hugely amusing when someone would order schnapps, the wait staff would bring the shot glasses out on a long board while ringing a cow bell.  It happened quite a lot during our lunch break and I had a chuckle each time.  

We'd had a pretty brilliant lunch catch up but we were both completely full, which is saying a lot for the two of us, who can pack it away when we want.  Feeling warm and happy from such a satisfying meal, we really didn't want to face the cold walk back to work.  We were given a little bit of a warming finish to the meal with a warm apple cider that had been fresh made that day.  Full bellies and a warming cider to finish off steadied the nerves for the cold wind that awaited outside....


**I was a guest of the Bavarian Bier Cafe for this meal

The beer flight of some well known german beers
Yep, this is what came after I asked for shot glasses - Germans love beer!
The cold meat platter was beautiful on the warm crusty bread with loads of butter
The huge pork knuckle - delicious
Heaps of haus-made sausage - I really loved these
Pork schnitzel - yum
The crackling on the pork belly was something special
From empty 
to full in a blink of the eye
The large space had people everywhere
The warm apple cider was wonderful on a cold winter's day
Great views of the story bridge and Brisbane river
The centrepiece of the Bavarian Bier Cafe is the huge bar
Don't let the blue sky fool you - it was cold and windy

Bavarian Bier Café Eagle Street Pier on UrbanspoonBavarian Bier Cafe


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