24 Market Lane Melbourne, VIC 3000
A bunch of us headed to Hofbrauhaus on Saturday night to grab some dinner after a movie. It’s situated on Market Lane, right next to HuTong Dumpling Bar. If you’ve ever been down that street, you would know that it’s narrow, smells a bit funny and is always chock-a-block full of people and cars. This Saturday night, there was what seemed like a bachelor party in full swing when we arrived, and so the street was even rowdier than normal.
We had made a booking for 5 people, and when we arrived (on time), the waitress at the front told us that our table wasn’t ready yet and that we could wait at the bar next door. Unfortunately, the bar was so full we could barely fit. There was a massive crowd of people waiting to buy beer, and tables all around the room where diners were eating. In the end we decided to just wait outside, but thankfully our table freed up fairly quickly and we were escorted upstairs to the main dining area.
It’s difficult to describe the atmosphere of this place unless you’ve been somewhere similar before. All the wait staff were donning classic German beer maid/man costumes (although I felt the female waiters far outnumbered the male) and there was a live band performing what I presume was (very loud) traditional German music. There’s no denying that it felt very authentic and what I imagine Oktoberfest in Munich to be like, but unfortunately, it was not the best setting for a group of friends who just wanted to enjoy dinner and a discussion about the movie.
We were seated on a large wooden table with another group and given menus to order from. There were quite a few beers to choose from and someone ordered a few litres for the table ($21-25 per litre). I’m no beer expert, but the boys seemed to enjoy them.
It was hard to decide what to order – none of us had had German food before, so we ended up opting for the ‘HB Platte’ for 2, the ‘Jagerbraten’ and the ‘HB Wurstplatte’ between the 5 of us, which basically covered most items on the menu. I have to say, I was pretty impressed by the size of the dishes. The HB Platte for 2 could easily feed 3 people, and each individual main is more than enough for one.
The braised beef in the Jagerbraten was really nice and tender, and the mushroom sauce was very rich and flavourful. I enjoyed the buttered spatzel a lot – it had the texture of doughy pasta and could have been better seasoned, but tasted amazing when mixed with the mushroom sauce.
The HB Wurstplatte was basically a selection of different sausages on a bed of mashed potato. My favourite was the dark red sausage – which I think is the Kasekrainer, but don’t quote me on that. The mashed potato was pretty great though, very smooth and buttery and not gluey at all.
The HB Platte consisted of pork knuckle, pork belly, sausages, schnitzels and a bunch of sides. The best part of the dish – the crackling of course! It was perfectly salty and crunchy and covered the entirety of the pork knuckle and the pork belly, so there was plenty for everyone. I personally enjoyed the meat of the pork belly a lot more than the knuckle though, as it was much more tender and evenly cooked. The knuckle had a few bits that were obviously overcooked and dry. The sausages on offer were the same as on the HB Wurstplatte, and the chicken schnitzel was fairly average and not particularly memorable. I quite enjoyed the potato dumplings though, although they could have done with more sauce. There was also a bread pudding on the side with apple sauce, which was nice and provided a nice contrast to the rest of the meal.
For me, the main downside of the meal was that all the meats were quite salty and greasy, and none of the waiters offered any water during the meal, so I ended up very thirsty by the end. The music was also extremely loud, which meant that there was absolutely no opportunity to chat throughout dinner without yelling into each other’s ears. In the end, we left as soon as we’d finished eating – and it was a huge relief to be able to hear myself think again.
Overall, Hofbrauhaus was an interesting experience, but I would not recommend it if you want to have any semblance of a conversation during your meal. I’m glad I went, but probably won’t be returning anytime soon.