When I think of eating traditional German food like big fat sausages, roasted hunks of pork, potato dumplings, sauerkraut and more sausages, I don’t think of the City of London. So when I was invited to a German beer tasting at Bierschenke by Zomato, I was a bit dubious. However, I accepted because I really like the people from Zomato and I want them to keep inviting me to lovely places, and also I knew that going on a German beer tasting would make Andrew really, really jealous. Yes, I am shallow and mean.
Even though Bierschenke is just a 10 minute walk from my office, I nearly missed it as the huge traditional beer hall is actually tucked down a side road by Moorgate tube station. But the noise of braying city boys led the way, and I eventually barged my way past the suited smokers into the venue.
My first impression was that it was rammed full of noisy city boys in suits, and they’d have to do a pretty good bratwurst to get me to say anything positive about the place. This kind of loud and shouty joint is not my cup of tea – I wouldn’t recommend going there for a date or a quiet chat with a friend – but I eventually managed to push my way down the stairs and through the throng to the Zomato crowd, where a smiling traditionally dressed server was waiting for me with a refreshing cold German wheat bier (Bierschenke Weißbier).
Zomato, for those of you who don’t know, is a kind of tripadvisor for restaurants – you can use their app or website to find restaurants according to your specific criteria and read user generated reviews from people like me who like to write about what they eat (check out my profile here). A group of us who regularly use the site had been invited along to enjoy a night at Bierschenke and so I was introduced to everyone before we settled down to the bier tasting. It’s a great way for me to meet fellow foodies and talk about my favourite subject.
We then started our tasting menu: the notes from Bierschenke are below and I’ve added my own comments in italics.
Nice and easy to drink – it tasted like a typical German beer to me.
2. Bierschenke Lager: a bottom fermented, characterised by its yellow-golden colour and a quaffable and aromatic taste with a harmonious finish.
I liked this more than the first one – I am not sure I could drink a mas of this, but I could manage a pint or two!
This reminded me of British lager – it was too fizzy for my liking.
4. Paulaner (Original Munich) Dunkel: a Bavarian dark lager, deep mahogany brown with a creamy tan head. A sweet malt aroma leads on to a body which is balanced by caramel and chocolate notes.
This was a darker beer than I would ever choose, but it was quite pleasant. I wouldn’t want to drink more than a half pint of it though.
5. Schlenkerla Rauchbier: A dark aromatic and amber lager with smoky flavours, brewed with original Schlenkerla Smokemalt.
This tasted of smoky bacon crisps and divided the room. Personally I found it quite unpleasant and wouldn’t ever choose it again, but I’d buy it for someone else for the novelty value.
When I received my invitation from Zomato, there was a mention of food, but I assumed we’d get a few pretzels or bowls of chips to share. I was so wrong. You can forget about the beer, the food here is what I would come back for. The table shared two huge (and I mean seriously huge) platters of food which included:
- Schweinshaxn (de hintere, de große) – Large roasted pork shank
- Hackbraten – Traditional German style meatloaf
- Jägerschnitzel “Schweineschnitzel mit frischer Schwammerlsauce” – Schnitzel “Hunter Style” bread pork escalope with creamy mushroom sauce
- Pommes Frites – Chips
- Kartoffelpüree – Mashed Potatoes
- Blaukraut – Red Cabbage
- Sauerkraut – Sauerkraut
- Semmelknödel – Bread Dumpling
- Kartoffelknödel – Potato Dumpling
- SAUSAGES by Klaus: Frankfurter, Debreciner, Nürnberger, Bratwurst
- Quarkkeulchen – Cream Cheese pancake
- Kaiserschmarrn – Traditional cut-up sugared pancake
- Hausgemachter Apfelstrudel – Homemade Applestrudel
- Apfelmus – Apple Sauce
- Heißen Himbeeren – Hot Raspberries
Everything was hearty, tasty, stodgy (I mean that as a compliment) and plentiful. The only thing I didn’t try was the mushroom sauce to go with the schnitzel, although the others were raving about it.
My absolute favourite thing was the pork shank, along with red cabbage and mashed potato. The meatloaf was also delicious. I found the dumplings a little bit gluey but I think that’s how they are rather than a fault of the preparation.
For the puddings, the cream cheese pancake was my favourite, with some hot raspberry sauce. But I ate a bit of everything to be sure, and there’s nothing I wouldn’t happily stuff into my fat little mouth again.
But the best thing about Bierschenke is the genuine feeling of authenticity. All of the staff are native German speakers, and everyone I spoke to was lovely. All of the food and beer is imported from Germany. Even the long tables are made from Bavarian wood. It seems that the owner and the staff are doing their best to create the traditional German beer hall experience in the heart of London and they are certainly succeeding.
As I said, there are too many noisy men in suits for my liking, but don’t let that put you off: the food and drinks are fantastic and if you go with a group of friends then I am sure you’ll have a great time.