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Augustiner-Keller

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Arnulfstrasse 52 80335 München

Hundreds of pairs of eyes are fixed upon the playing field as the action starts picking up.  The pro Bayern München crowd erupts out of their seats in a gigantic roar as they loudly applaud an amazing goal scored by Thomas Müller.  Minutes later, another goal is scored in dramatic fashion as the team takes a commanding lead.  No, it’s not the scene at the Allianz Arena – rather it’s the energetic atmosphere at Augustiner-Keller inside the main beer hall.  What better way to spend a cold, rainy Saturday afternoon in Munich than sitting amongst a bunch of local Bayern München fans, eating traditional Bavarian cuisine, drinking some Augustiner beer, and watching arguably the most popular German football club on the big screen.

 

Augustiner-Keller is conveniently located a few blocks away from the Munich Hauptbahnhof.  The space is quite large and the establishment has its own parking lot.  There are various areas to sit here, including the outdoor beer garden and a large beer hall inside.  Downstairs, you can also sit in the cellar (hence, the name Augustiner-Keller).  Seating inside the main hall is uniquely different from the standard wooden benches and tables you would find at other beer halls.  Here you will find polished wooden tables and dark brown wood chairs.  Along the outer rim, under the windows, you can take in the festivities at a distance, sitting along the wooden wall benches.  The décor is quite old fashioned with a few framed oil paintings of famous individuals on one side of the wall.  Large, aged circular chandeliers provide ample lighting in the hall.  The curved ceilings are marked with several signs and logos.

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The atmosphere is vivacious and spirited.  Before the football match, a live band plays music to the delight of the guests.  Many diners stand proudly and raise their beer glasses to toast.  There are people dancing merrily and drinking with one another.  Some are deep in conversation.  Others enjoy the afternoon as part of a weekly group meeting.  Surprisingly, one of the band leaders downs an entire Maß of beer in spectacular fashion at center stage – clearly reminiscent of a scene from Hollywood.  The excitement pervades throughout the entire hall.

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On the menu is a good selection of Bavarian specialties. Naturally, you will find Augustiner beer featured in the drinks section.  At 7,20 € a liter, the price is comparable to other beer halls.  For a good Bavarian delicacy, try the Augustiner O’bazda.  Priced at 6,90 €, an order comes with 2 scoops of this unique mixture of cheese, butter, spicy paprika, and other spices, along with a single slice of Landbrot bread.  Garnished on top of the Obatzda are sliced raw red onions and chopped green onions.  At Augustiner-Keller, they use Frischkäse (cream cheese) in their Obatzda.  This creates such a smooth and creamy texture that pairs well with the crunchy onions.  Obazda tastes both buttery and cheesy, with the ideal amount of spices added in.  Ideally spread on the bread, the dish is a good accompaniment to beer.  The only downside to this starter is the amount of bread given.  1 piece of Landbrot is simply not enough.  Be sure to order more bread or a pretzel to finish up the cheese spread!

 

Main courses are a mixture of traditional German and Bavarian cuisine.  You will find standard fare such as Schweinshaxe, Schnitzel, roasted meats, and sausages.  Weißwurst is also featured on the menu.  Duck and other poultry can also be had.  There is a mixed platter (Schmankerlplatte – 18,50 €) featuring sliced duck, a piece of schweinshaxe, as well as other meats.  For something simple, yet appetizing, get the 11,20 € Schweinebraten (roasted pork).  A slice of slow roasted pork neck (Halsgrat) is served in its own natural juices, accompanied by a potato dumpling (Kartoffelknödel).  On the side is a small bowl of Blaukraut (red cabbage).  The roasted pork is executed well, succulent and delicious, and holds a lot of flavor.  Typical of pork neck, there is a relatively large section of fat on one side – avoidable if you’re watching your intake, but tasty and having a good consistency when eaten in conjunction with the meat.  Pork skin is good too, initially crisp and then mellow after soaking in the juices.  The knödel has only a slight taste of potato, barely recognizable.  Like the meat, it’s a good item to use to soak up the natural juices of the pork.

Desserts are limited to a few items.  However, you can’t go wrong with the Apfelstrudel (5,30 €).  Topped with powdered sugar and served with a generous amount of warm vanilla cream sauce, the pastry is such a pleasurable experience.  The layers of apples inside the strudel pastry are so flavorful and sweet; the vanilla cream adds that extra dimension.  Eaten all together, the Apfelstrudel and cream explodes in your mouth with flavor.

 

For something different and regional, try the Frische Dampfnudel.  At 5,90 €, it’s a little more expensive than the Apfelstrudel, but it is also a typical southern German dessert and a great way to complete an all Bavarian meal.  Dampfnudel is essentially a type of yeast dough bread – here it is sweetened a bit.  Light and airy, the dampfnudel is akin to a sweet bread roll.  As with the Apfelstrudel, the bread is served in a warm vanilla sauce that gets absorbed well, creating a sweet, dreamy experience.

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During the early afternoon lunch hours, the service is fantastic.  On this day, our polite waiter, Herr Maier, always had a smile on his face.  Extremely attentive, confident, and jolly, he made the dining experience so much better.  Although the hall wasn’t overly busy, Herr Maier’s patience and demeanor throughout the afternoon was superb and top-notch.  Our drink and food orders were taken with care and brought in due time.

Augustiner-Keller is well worth a visit.  Great food, excellent service, and a spirited atmosphere – factors that create a perfect dining experience.  And the final score?  FC Bayern München 3 – VfL Bochum 1848 1 as Müller scored all three goals for an impressive hat-trick.  With the win, FC Bayern secured the top spot in the Bundesliga standings and won the season title.  What a perfect way to end a meal in Munich!

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Summary:

Featuring one of the oldest and largest beer gardens in the city, Augustiner-Keller is an outstanding German restaurant only a few minutes away from the Munich Hauptbahnhof.  Serving up its own Augustiner brew, Augustiner-Keller is a great place to enjoy authentic Bavarian cuisine without encountering the huge number of tourists.  Great service.  Prices reasonable.

Hours: Monday – Sunday, 10:00 AM – 1:00 AM 

 

Overall – 5 stars

  • Augustiner O’bazda mit Frischkäse pikant angemacht, Landbrot – 5/5
  • Jungschweinebraten vom Halsgrat mit Kruste, Kartoffelknödel und Blaukraut – 4.5/5
  • Frische Dampfnudel mit Vanillerahmsauce – 5/5
  • Service – 5/5

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www.augustinerkeller.de/

Written by geschmack

May 1st, 2010 at 11:55 pm

Hofbräuhaus

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Platzl 9 80331 München

Consult practically any guide book to Germany, any tourist information pamphlet about Munich, or ask any German about restaurants in the area and Hofbräuhaus will most likely be mentioned.  After all, it’s one of the most well-known establishments in the city.  Today, there are even several ‘Hofbräuhäuser’ in other countries around the world – one of many German exports.  Due to its status as a world renowned restaurant and brewery, Hofbräuhaus should be a top-notch dining experience on all fronts.  However, it falls short in several areas.

Hofbräuhaus can be easily spotted from a distance.  Its grand structure is surely a sight to see.  From the outside, one might even mistake it for a hotel.  Inside, the place is sort of like a maze.  Seating at the Hofbräuhaus can be divided into 4 areas.

 

There is a good sized beer garden outside, with several trees providing ample shading during the warm summer months.  Inside, there is a festival hall as well as the main beer hall area on the ground floor.  Upstairs is a Bräustüberl.  Wooden benches with several engraved carvings make up the seating and dining area in the main dining area.  Overall, the atmosphere is lively.  The live band walks around throughout the restaurant and beer garden and delivers on the oompah German music.  In fact, you will be hearing the ‘Ein Prosit’ song quite often throughout the evening.  Waitresses walk around selling pretzels and sweets.  It’s also a relatively good place to meet people from all walks of life.  Tonight, my group was able to share a table with a welcoming group of Chinese people from France.  A couple of German guys asked to join our table as well as a nice couple from Sweden.

Yet, Hofbräuhaus has become overwhelmingly saturated with tourists that the authentic German touch seems to have escaped eons ago.  This is clear the moment you step inside the building as you will immediately notice the gift shop near the entrance.  The dining room itself is too loud and noisy. In the evening, you will most certainly come across obnoxious drunks that will utterly ruin your experience.  Tonight, an intoxicated, obese Caucasian man approached me and laughingly asked if he could take pictures of me snapping photos of my food.  Such a mundane act of taking photographs of food is nothing to laugh about, yet this idiot insisted on carrying through with his request.  Frankly, my evening was ruined before the meal even began.

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The menu offers an authentic, traditional Bavarian experience.  The list of drinks obviously features Hofbräu beer from their own brewery.  There are also alcohol free drinks, wines, and a few champagnes.  Salads, Brotzeit items, and a couple of soups are highlighted on the first page along with a few vegetarian and fish dishes.  Impressively, Hofbräuhaus has its own butcher to prepare the numerous sausage specialties from the region.  The main dishes are characteristically pork heavy.  You can find steaks and also the Bavarian roasted chicken.  Beef dishes are also numerous.  Desserts are also varied and sound delicious but you may not be inclined on trying them considering the service (more later).

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As a starter, the Bayerische Zwiebelsuppe mit Marjoran seems like a bargain at only 2,50 €.  The medium sized bowl is filled to the top with steaming liquid.  However, the soup is a bit watered down – it isn’t thick at all.  The onions are mushy and dissolve in your mouth.  On the plus side, they are relatively sweet.  Chopped parsley adds a nice touch.  On the whole, the soup still could be a lot better.  In fact, they should just serve French onion soup.

 

A highly recommended item to order is the Knusprig gebratene Schweinshaxn (crispy, roasted pork knuckle).  Served in its own natural juices with 2 dumplings on the side, the dish is priced fairly at 10,50 €.  The skin lives up to the dishes description – it is very crispy and pure goodness.  The pork meat is succulent and tender, though it is somewhat difficult to get the most out of it without digging in with both hands.  The natural juices add wonders to the meat as you can dip a piece to soak up the sauce for that extra burst of flavor.  Schweinshaxn is a hearty dish that goes well with beer.  On the side are 2 large dumpling balls that only help cut down the hefty amount of meat.  Made up of bread and potatoes, the dumplings have a slightly soft, spongy texture that is rather unusual.  It does soak up the juices extremely well, which helps because the dumplings alone lack taste.  Altogether, the dish is well executed though the presentation is sloppy.  It seems that everything is quickly scooped on the plate and served.  This carelessness and lack of attention carries on to another important dining aspect – service.

Be forewarned because the service is downright atrocious.  Outside at the beer garden, the impertinent waiter was utterly rude by demanding a quick decision on our beer orders.  Instead of coming back later, his direct ‘schnell!’ remark (meaning quickly) was enough to raise an eyebrow.  Furthermore, he refused to even take food orders due to the impending rain.  Understandable, as it rained quite a bit later on.  However, guests at a neighboring table were served food a few minutes afterwards.  This attitude merely perpetuates the stereotype that Germans are rude and direct people.

Inside, the change of waiters didn’t help the situation.  It took a good 10 minutes to flag down the worker responsible for our section of tables to order our meal.  Granted the place was bustling on a late Friday evening, but it’s still inexcusable.  The couple who later joined us at our bench waited approximately 40 minutes for 2 beers, despite repeatedly asking about it.  Ultimately, they decided to get up and leave without being served.  Obviously, this type of service would never pass in the United States – the waiters surely should be dismissed.

Come to Hofbräuhaus for the history and the environment, stay for some beers, but don’t expect great food or service.  Considering the long standing record of the establishment and reputation of the beer, you would expect excellence on all levels.  Sadly, Hofbräuhaus fails to meet those high expectations and is merely a tourist attraction.  Come once and never come back again.

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Summary:

Hofbräuhaus, one of Munich’s most famous establishments, is a traditional German brewery and beer hall with a nightly atmosphere comparable to Oktoberfest.  Serving beer from its own brew, Hofbräuhaus also serves authentic Bavarian cuisine.  Good overall atmosphere, but very touristy.  Live band music in the evening.  Reasonably priced.  Decent food, but extremely dreadful service under pressure.

Hours: Monday – Sunday, 9:00 AM – 11:30 PM 

 

Overall – 2 stars

  • Bayerische Zwiebelsuppe mit Majoran (Onion Soup with marjoram) – 2/5
  • Knusprig gebratene Schweinshaxn, in Natursoße mit zwei Reiberknödel (Pork knuckle in natural juices, served with 2 dumplings) – 4.5/5
  • Service – 0/5

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www.hofbraeuhaus.de/

Written by geschmack

April 30th, 2010 at 11:59 pm

Oktoberfest München / Münchner Frühlingsfest Hippodrom Tent

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Theresienwiese 80336 München

Beer + Munich = Oktoberfest.  The world renowned two-week festival held in Munich attracts millions of visitors every year.  The atmosphere is exuberant and highly charged.  People come to drink liters of beer, sample Bavarian delicacies and sweets, enjoy a trip on the various amusement park rides, and chat with friends, loved ones, or completely random strangers.  But if you aren’t able to make it to the world’s largest fair in the fall, the Frühlingsfest (Spring Festival) also takes place in the exact same area in the spring.  Although not as electric and teeming with crowds, Frühlingsfest will give you a clue as to what Oktoberfest is like.  In other words, Frühlingsfest is rightfully named the ‘mini Oktoberfest.’

During Oktoberfest, visitors have a chance to check out one of several beer tents (last year, there were around 14).  Inside, a particular type of beer is offered as well as a variety of food items.   Even though you will not have as large of a selection of locally brewed beers as you would during Oktoberfest, you can still find a couple of tents at the Frühlingsfest – the Hippodrom and the Augustiner Bräu festival hall.  Seating at one of these beer halls usually consists of wooden benches.  There are also boxed seats, separated from the other tables.

 

One of the first tents people see as they walk through the festival grounds during both Oktoberfest and Frühlingsfest is the Hippodrom beer tent.  Although not the largest on site, it is definitely one of the more popular tents during these festivities.  Here, you will find a mixture of young and old as they cheerfully sing beer songs and dance merrily with one another inside the colorful red, yellow, and green tent.

 

The beautiful waitresses wear their traditional dirndls, the men lederhosen.  During both festivals, a live band plays loudly inside at center stage, amplifying the air  At times, when the tent is heavily packed (particularly during the evenings), the place can also be unbearable as the area gets engulfed with smoke from the large number of smokers.  That being said, the best time to visit during Oktoberfest and Frühlingsfest is early in the morning and afternoon when the masses haven’t yet made it for lunch.  Reservations are absolutely required past 6 PM.

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Aside from ordering a Maß (liter) of beer here, which comes from the Spaten brewing company in Munich, you can also order one of the dishes off the limited menu in the Hippodrum tent.  The menu features various items eaten during German Brotzeit, including a Bavarian cheese specialty Obaztda.  Of course, you will also find several different types of sausages, such as the traditional Bavarian Weißwurst with sweet mustard.  Pretzels are also highly recommended – the large pretzels are gigantic!  Schnitzel, Schweinsbraten, and duck find their way on the menu.  But a really popular dish to eat during lunchtime in the beer tents happens to be Hendl (roasted chicken).  Not only is it popular, but also a nice change from the pork dishes.

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Officially listed under the menu as ‘Mittagshendl mit Alfon Schuhbecks “Bayerischen” Brathähnchengewürz und warmem Kartoffel-Gurkensalat,’ this delectable dish is essentially a half roasted chicken served with a warm potato and cucumber salad.  Priced at 9,10 € during lunch hours (before 3 PM), it’s certainly a good dish to choose while having a drink.  The chicken is juicy and tender; the skin full of flavor and, without a doubt, the best part.  Some parts of the bird, particularly the wing, are crunchy.  The other portions are fall off the bone tender and can be taken apart quite easily.  The spices used are not overwhelming at all.  Unfortunately, they do not penetrate the white meat of the chicken well.  A simply squeeze from the lemon wedge will solve any lack of flavor.  Overall, the roasted chicken ranks as one of the best.  The potato salad is also a perfect side accompaniment.  Topped with chopped chives, it is simple and flavorful but not overpowering.

Oktoberfest is certainly a one of a kind event.  It’s definitely a must if you ever plan on visiting Germany.  However, if you simply cannot make it during the fall, the Frühlingsfest is a nice alternative.  Come for the nostalgia, the atmosphere, and the great entertainment and fun.  But more importantly, come for the beer and authentic Bavarian cuisine.

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Summary:

The Hippodrum beer tent at the Oktoberfest and Frühlingsfest is one of the most popular tents on the festival grounds.  Serving Spaten beer and a fair amount of authentic, traditional German cuisine, Hippodrum is the perfect place to be to enjoy the festivities.  Reservations highly recommended (essentially required during the evening).  Good service even under pressure.

Oktoberfest usually begins in late September until early October; Frühlingsfest in April until early May

 

Overall – 5 stars

  • ½ Mittagshendl mit Alfon Schuhbecks “Bayerischen” Brathähnchengewürz und warmem Kartoffel-Gurkensalat (Roasted Chicken with Alfon Schuhbecks chicken spices, served with warm potato salad) – 5/5
  • Service – 5/5

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http://www.muenchen.de/Tourismus/Oktoberfest/7548/index.html
http://www.hippodrom-oktoberfest.de/
http://www.hippodrom-fruehlingsfest.de/
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Written by geschmack

April 30th, 2010 at 11:45 pm