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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

Brauhaus Vetter

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Steingasse 9 69117 Heidelberg

Simply put, Germany is notorious for its beer.  Ask anyone in the world what they associate with Germany and German products and beer will surely be mentioned.  So what’s a trip to a historic city such as Heidelberg without visiting an old, local brew house?  Brauhaus Vetter, steps away from the historic Old Bridge passing over the Neckar River and the famous Bridge Monkey, is one such brewery known for its own home brewed beer and traditional German cuisine.

 

Take a step inside this old Heidelberg brewery and you will instantly become aware of the two sizeable beer brewing kettles next to the bar area.  The dining area is completely open and spacious, with several large wooden tables and old benches.  The tables are quite large and enough to accompany a total of twelve guests, with three on each side.  In fact, it’s sort of reminiscent of family community seating.  Hence, small groups or solo diners may need to share the table if the restaurant gets packed with patrons.  Floors are also made of wood.  Décor isn’t spectacular, but there are beautiful green plants decorating the ceilings.  American pop music plays from the speakers.  Of course, the prime seats in the house are those looking out of the windows as you have the opportunity to people watch.

The menu, offered in both German and English versions, features an abundant number of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, as well as an extensive list of entrées, ranging from the typical sausages and schnitzels to various combinations of breads and cheeses.  Naturally, the home brewed beer is featured at the very beginning of the menu.  There are also menu choices for large groups, including an entire platter of around fifty sausages.  Interestingly, during certain months, Brauhaus Vetter features daily specials.  For instance, throughout the months of February, March, and April, Monday revolves around sausages, Tuesday is schnitzel day, Wednesday is Haxe (Pork knuckle) day, and Thursdays are all about liters of beer.

 

Today being a Wednesday makes it is a perfect time for a German delight – roasted pork knuckle (Schweinehaxe).  An entire pork knuckle, served with Treberbrot (spent grain bread), and a dollop of mustard on a single leaf of lettuce costs a mere 7,80 Euro.  Half a pork knuckle will set you back only 4,90 €.  A warning though: Schweinehaxe is definitely not for the faint of heart!  There are so many deposits of fat – unhealthy layers hiding under the crispy skin and attached to the meat – that people really need to be careful while eating it.

 

Aside from the fat, the meat is moist, tender, and full of flavor.  Eaten in combination with the bread and the mustard, the dish tastes wonderful.  Where was this mixture when mother made sandwiches for lunch?  The skin is probably the best part of the dish.  Mmm, pork skin!  Simply scrape off the extra amount of fat (or eat it if you so desire) from the pork cracklings and enjoy the heavenly crispiness that is pork skin.  Surely a guilty pleasure!  Just don’t tell your doctor you ate it, though!

 

Knödel, large round bread (or also traditionally potato) dumplings, are huge spheres of disappointment.  An American equivalent would probably be dressing eaten on Thanksgiving, except Knödel is shaped into balls and prepared without the various herbs.  The flavor of the Knödel at Brauhaus Vetter is simply lacking.  Although the side order to the Schweinehaxe is accompanied by a brown gravy sauce and topped with fried onions, the dumpling is missing that special kick.  As is, it merely tastes doughy.  As a side dish to the roasted pork hock, it is simply an afterthought.

Brauhaus Vetter isn’t the most innovative or unique restaurant in Heidelberg.  After all, it is first and foremost a brewery.  Don’t expect trendy, fashionable dishes in this touristy part of Heidelberg.  But the chefs here at Brauhaus Vetter dish up hearty, delicious German food that will surely keep you satisfied throughout the entire day.  And, of course, the home brewed beer is always an excellent accompaniment to wash it all down!

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Summary:

Conveniently located steps away from the Old Bridge in Heidelberg, Brauhaus Vetter is a German brewery and restaurant offering a wide selection of home brewed, unfiltered, natural beer and an extensive selection of German cuisine.  Moderate prices.  Special selected discounted days (see website).  Known for its ‘Vetter 33’ – the strongest beer in the world.  Beer kegs and bottles available for purchase.

Hours: Sunday – Thursday: 11:30 AMMidnight
            Friday and Saturday: 11 AM – 2 AM

 

Overall – 4.5 stars

  • Ganze Schweinehaxe mit Treberbrot (Roasted Pork Hock with Grain Bread) – 4.5/5
  • Knödel – 3/5
  • Service – 5/5

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www.brauhaus-vetter.de/

Written by geschmack

February 24th, 2010 at 8:08 pm