Bavarian Beerhouse

9 Crutched Friars, EC3N 2AU

Price for two: £39.71

Bavarian Beerhouse on a quiet Sunday afternoon in the City

Bavarian Beerhouse on a quiet Sunday afternoon in the City

Situated close to the financial institutions of the City and Fenchurch Street Station, from where much of the former’s workers are ferried back to their Essex villas at the end of the day, Bavarian Beerhouse could have been designed exclusively for Thursday night blow-outs. And there’s evidence of a bit of that – the menu showcases something called a Jägertrain, a tequila slammer-like horrorshow with Jägermeister for stag do enforced fun. But come on a Sunday afternoon, when the City boys are polishing their Audis and the area is a haven of tranquillity, and Bavarian Beerhouse is a surprisingly authentic and likeable little place.

One of two branches five miles apart, it’s styled like a small-town Bavarian eatery, all chequered tableware (albeit red and white, rather than the Bayern blue) and pictures of Neuchwanstein Castle. On a Sunday two large screens show the Bundesliga, on this occasion Hertha Berlin and Hoffenheim attempting to play through a snowstorm. Until they switch it off for the commentary, atmosphere is provided by the music – raucous Schlager interspersed with DJ Ötzi and, hopefully with a dollop of irony, David Hasselhoff’s Looking For Freedom. We muse on what DJ Ötzi is up to now and conclude it’s probably “still having huge hits on the continent”.

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The fulsome menu is all you’d expect, and I opt for the traditional Wurstplatte, Frankfurters, Nürnberger and Bratwurst served on mashed potato and sauerkraut. The relatively small size of the plate can be misleading in just how much is there – the mash and sauerkraut goes deep and the bratwurst leans over both sides. The wurst is largely delicious – the bratwurst rich in flavour and depth, the nürnberger delicious with its distinctive, slightly citric taste. Only the Frankfurters taste a little shop-bought, but it’s no deal-breaker. The mash is delightfully soft, the sauerkraut very slightly watery for my taste but again, very edible.

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Mrs Turnforthewurst goes rogue and turns not for the wurst but the Käsespätzle, noodles with cheese, onion, cream and a mixed salad, the latter of which arrives like a sheepish gatecrasher. It is, again, disarmingly hearty – rich and flavoursome, although it leaves her a little bloated afterwards. It’s one of only two vegetarian options on the menu, and less is more might be an idea. Drinks were an Erdinger, from the tap and excellent, and a decent white wine. The service is good – we had to wait a while to get the bill, but then this is supposed to be Munich, not Manhattan, so savour the authenticity.

The trade is sprightly for a Sunday afternoon in the City, a mix of a handful of families, a few couples, a pair of Essex boys presumably still out from Friday and at least two groups of German guys, perhaps London residents pining for fare from home. They didn’t look disappointed, and nor should they be – for all its location, and the threat of the Jägertrain, Bavarian Beerhouse is a really pleasant weekend find.

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Food 8/10

Drinks 8/10

Authenticity 8/10

Staff 7/10

Overall 8/10

http://www.bavarian-beerhouse.co.uk/london/london-tower-hill/

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Herman Ze German

33 Old Compton Street, W1D 5JU

Price for two: £25.70

Herman Ze German, Old Compton Street. Hidden Behind a car.

Herman Ze German, Old Compton Street. Hidden behind a car.

First things first – Herman Ze German is a terrible name. Based on the incorrect notion Germans struggle to get their tongues round the definite article in English, it suggests that Londoners might only be prepared to sample German food in an arch, ironic way. It’s all a bit ‘Allo ‘Allo, or the kind of equivalent of those Dolmio adverts with the simple rustic puppets bursting with excitement over a weekly dose of jarred pasta sauce.

It’s a minor moan though, and they know what they’re doing. Herman Ze German’s founders have been at it a few years, beginning in 2008 when they began importing sausages from a family butcher back home in the Black Forest to a pub in Brighton. That led to a regular round of the festivals to the position they are now in – three permanent venues in central London, including this one nicely situated in Soho.

Herman Ze German do it simple and they do it well. Those well acquainted with German fare and make it past the moniker are not going to be disappointed – this is currywurst a born-and-bred Berliner would recognise. Those newer to it won’t be bewildered by the wall-mounted menus (it’s order at the counter, have it brought to your table at this branch), which is full of fare familiar to those with basic knowledge of German street food, or have just been to a Christmas market. It’s the Imbiss regulars  – various types of Wurst, Schnitzel, Pommes – with just the nod to cosmopolitan London. Jalapenos with wurst might be the first example of Mexico-Mecklenburg fusion cuisine.

The real deal

The real deal

We both went for the large Currywurst with Pommes at £7.99 each, me adding Sauerkraut at 50p (crispy onions are free). For drinks we had a Paulaner – presumably bottled as, curiously for London, it tasted of Paulaner – and a white wine. The man bringing the drinks hilariously pretended to deliver them the wrong way round, which leads one to suspect he may have had a hand in the name.

With hindsight, going large may have been a classic eyes v belly error. It is huge – at least two large Bratwurst each, a fulsome amount of pommes and so much sauce you had to effectively launch a search party in it towards the end to find the remaining sausage. But it’s terrific. The bratwurst is of an obviously high standard, the sauce deliciously authentic. We went hot, which is actually fairly mild to a British palate – there are the options of ‘burner’ and ‘ringer’ for a nation more used to a Saturday night curry. The chips are thin and crunchy and very more-ish. Even the sauerkraut has a lovely ‘snap’ to it, rather than the slop served up in Lidl jars.

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The staff are friendly. When overhearing us wondering what remoulade sauce was (a French condiment similar to tartare, although you already knew that) the waiter brought over a small sample bowl for us to try. The only real improvement which could be made would be turning the music, more Balearic than Berlin, down a notch. But it’s a relative quibble and didn’t seem to put off the passing trade, which on this Sunday was largely passing shoppers with the odd tourist.

So don’t be fooled by the name. This isn’t a Disney appropriation of German food, it’s the real deal in the heart of London. So ven is your Herman ze German day?

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Food 9/10

Drinks 9/10

Authenticity 8/10

Staff 8/10

Overall 8.5/10

www.hermanzegerman.com