Hofbrauhaus (not sure how its suppose to be pronounced but I kept calling it Opera House all night for a joke, possibly due to the beer taking effect) is located on Market Lane in Chinatown of all places. It's a German restaurnat fashioned in the style of a bar. It has lots of wooden frameworks and is dimly lit. It also has these European type paintings and various art works around the place.
I had caught a lift from my friend John to the city. Just as he dropped me off on Lonsdale though, it started to rain very heavily. This meant that by the time I got to Market Lane, I was literally soaked. I went inside and my glasses fogged up, making trying to find everyone even harder. They were all seated right at the very corner of the restaurant so I couldn't see them at all. A quick phone call later and I located everyone.
I was already half an hour fashionably late, but was surprised to find that half the group hadn't arrived yet. I plonked myself down on the chair and dried my hair and glasses. The window overlooking the lane had a perfect view of Flower Drum's main entrance. I could do some celebrity spotting while I waited. One day, I must go to Flower Drum to see what all the fuss is about. Anyway, I grabbed a Hofbrauhaus beef as recommended.
The beer that arrived was this humungous mug containing a whole litre of beer. It tasted really good though, with a sweet flavour and a slight honey after taste I thought.
So while we waited for the rest of the group to arrive, I took some photos. Here are from left going clockwise, Kakada, Wei Ling, Ling, Jom, David and Justin.
When Ian, Thanh (yes there are many people called Thanh, guys and girls) and Amanda arrived, we ordered mains. Most people chose the Munchner Schweinshaxe, which sounds like some an order to decapitate someone but is actually the house special consisting of a )Pork Shank fit for a bear served with, what else, but sauerkraut and something called a potato dumpling.
The crackling skin on the shank is deliciously crispy. The inside consists of fatty smooth oily meat, still pink from slow cooking. The meat is very tender and falls off the bone. The sauerkraut with its acidic taste helps to break up all the fattiness. The potato dumpling tasted bad and was like eating flavourless chalk. I tried as hard as I could but just finish half the dish. I had already consumed a litre of beer, two beers earlier from work, a huge glass of wine at John's place so I couldn't fit in any more. Even my usual reserve spot in my stomach for dessert was filled up. The Apple Strudel was enticing me like a siren in the sea but I just couldn't eat any more. This was definitely a rarity, I can usually squeeze in some dessert no matter how full I am.
The service was good, with the waiters coming by quite often to check how things were going. If anything, they were a bit too good, removing plates very quickly even when you weren't quite done.
The atmosphere is much like a pub and noisy and boisterous. The band hadn't quite started up yet when we left. I also saw the dancers fitted out in their costumes sitting at a table but they would only start dancing later in the night. A shame that I couldn't get to see them in action.
Overall Rating: 14/20, Good place for something different occasionally. There aren't too many German restaurants in Melbourne I suspect. I won't be tackling their beers and main courses without assistance next time. I still want to try their desserts.
Scores: 1-9: Unacceptable, don't bother. 10-11: Just OK,some shortcomings. 12: Fair. 13: Getting there. 14: Recommended. 15: Good. 16: Really good. 17: Truly excellent. 18: An outstanding experience. 19-20: Approaching perfection, Victoria's best.