There's always a happy chaos at Löwenbräu , its Rocks location popular with tourists, birthdays and the occasional bucks night. We join the din and take our place at the long wooden table set with distinctive blue and white checked napkins. Overhead are stained glass windows and paintings of beaming ruddy-cheeked fräulein.
The arrival of our individual soup tureens, each large enough to feed a family, sets the scene for an evening of rib-sticking fare.
The mushroom soup
is thick, if a little salty. A splodge of sour cream slowly melts into the soup which we eat with fat slices of garlic bread, only lightly toasted on the edges and generously soaked with molten garlic butter.
Tree stump table setting
There's much bemusement when our table is set with wooden logs, mostly because of this perfect man
. I do like a man who chops wood. And who loves his mama.
The wooden posts act a rustic elevated stand to hold our parade of dishes which we'll be sharing this evening.
Braised lamb shanks on mashed potato
It's a meat-fest for even the most determined carnivore. Lamb shanks and beef short ribs are a celebration of protein, but my standout favourite is the beef cheeks which have been slow-cooked until the once-sinewy flesh simply fall apart, the meat soft, sweet and unctuous.
Slow roast beef short ribsWine marinated roast beef cheeksFranziskaner bier goulash
Bier goulash is served with giant balls of bread dumplings, stodgy carbohydrate bombs that do well to soak up the meaty goulash sauce. Crispy onion strings are addictive.
Venison stew with sautéed mushrooms and servietten knoedel steamed bread dumplings Venison stew
comes with slices of steamed bread dumplings. I find the veal a touch chewy but a generous serve of mushrooms provides a welcome vegetable component.Garden salad
In the face of so much meat, I find myself attacking the garden salad with relish. If there is ever a place for raw Spanish onions, a meat fest is one of them.
Oven roasted pork knuckle with sauerkraut and mashed potato
And yet, somehow we find room and eager inclination for a special order of schweinshaxn roasted pork knuckle
. Our attention is focussed solely on Suze as she wields a knife (maniacally, of course) and slowly splinters the skirt of bubbled crackling into pieces to share.
The crackling is salty but the crunchy reward is more than worth it. Noisy crackling, fatty tender pork, a mound of gravy soaked mashed potato and a side of sauerkraut - this is my idea of Christmas on a plate.
Cow bell ringing
Is it a genuine beer hall without alcohol-induced frivolity? Audience participation is always encouraged, and after enjoying a hammed-up rendition of cow bell ringing, random members are pulled, squealing from tables, to join in on the fun.
Cow bell ringing of Edelweiss
Did you know Edelweiss is perfect for cow bells? A careful placement of volunteers and a strategically pointed microphone results in a worthy rendition of the Sound of Music favourite. Suze does a stellar job!
Tuba playing is fun!
bolts from the stage when she's told she'll have to sing, but is coaxed back with a tuba.
Drinking games inevitably ensue, giant steins drunk by competing men and women although we're later told that the beer in them is alcohol-free. Lisa
does us proud in the women's section.
Overall the mood is merry, especially with our table getting into shots of schnapps in sour apple and butterscotch, served on long wooden paddles by smiling females. There is also beer to be drunk - the Franziskaner Hefe-Weissbier Drunkel is my favourite, a dark wheat beer that is smoky maltiness.
Cinnamon ice cream
We clamour eagerly around the giant platter holding dessert, a kaiserschmarrn
which translates to "Emperor mishmash" in Austrian German. Essentially it's a dish of eggy pancake, cut up into pieces during drying and then served with syrup, icing sugar, raisins and toasted almonds.
The smell is intoxicating, and I love the combination of soft chewy pancake with the crunchy almonds, some of them pleasingly bitter from over-browning. The raisins are sweet and almost candied from frying. It's the kind of nourishing deliciousness you could happily eat for brunch or supper. Apparently kaiserschmarrn is a popular dessert and is commonly available for lunch at tourist spots in the Austrian alps. It is can also be served with fruit compotes like apple, cherry or plum. I'd love to have it with a splash of Calvados apple brandy or Cointreau triple sec liquer.
The dish is said to have been first served to the Austrian Emperor Francis Joseph I, hence the use of the word "kaiser" in its name.
We eat this with little pots of cinnamon ice cream, plain vanilla dusted with cinnamon sugar but another great idea I want to recreate at home.
Thomas Beissert, Executive Chef for The Argyle and Löwenbräu KellerMarco Jacobs, Head Chef for Löwenbräu Keller
We meet both the Executive Chef, Thomas Beissert and Head Chef, Marco Jacobs who come out into the dining room briefly.
Löwenbräu bier club steins
Have you often wondered about the wooden cabinets filled with monogrammed bier steins at Löwenbräu? I finally corner one of the staff and get the lowdown. Each stein represents a member of the Löwenbräu Pure Bier club and anyone can join. Membership is $85 per year and includes your own personally engraved Munich stein that is kept at the restaurant for you to use, presumably to the green-eyed envy of your non-membered mates. Your first bier is free on each visit.
Members can choose from a range of sizes and designs and I'm told they do have female members, although there aren't many. The club holds regular events and dinners throughout the year.
Löwenbräu will be serving special dishes throughout its Christmas in July celebrations. Mulled gluhwein and alte witte plum schnapps with cream will also be available. A Swiss cheese fondue with bread and broccoli will be served every Sunday.
Grab Your Fork dined a a guest of Löwenbräu Keller and Zing Australia.