Tag Archives: beer

Restaurant Review: Bavarian Bier Cafe, Brisbane

Eagle Street Pier is Brisbane’s original and arguably most successful restaurant precinct.  It’s now been trading for almost 20 years, but in the last five it seemed to lose its way.   Pier Nine, the premier spot for seafood and high class fish and chips closed its doors as the Hill-Smith family focussed on winemaking and other interests.  City Rowers became Jade Buddha and Ted Stewart’s Vino’s restaurant and function centre closed after several years of inconsistent trading.  With new owners Stockland coming on board there was talk of a substantial redevelopment of the site which created uncertainty for traders.  Then the ‘global financial crisis’ came and everything got a little quiet and the rumours died down.  Throughout this Andy & Marcia George’s Il Centro and John Kilroy’s Cha Cha Char carried on offering calm and consistency at the centre of the storm.

The opening of Aria by celebrity chef Matt Moran in mid 2009 created renewed optimism for the precinct and now as 2010 draws to a close there is a rash of new venues opening their doors.  I’ll leave it for Stockland’s PR machine to list them all out, but some highlights are the contemporary Japanese Sake Restaurant and Hamptons styled Jude Café, both of which are in soft opening mode.  It’s got to be a difficult time to open a new restaurant with chronic staff shortages affecting many operators.

Let’s get this out of the way:  Bavarian Bier Café is part of a chain.  There’s already a bunch of them trading in Sydney along with Lowenbrau Kellen at the Rocks.  The formula is great German beer, a menu with something to please everyone and young female waitresses with plenty of cleavage on display, without straying into Hooters territory.  If you’re blond haired and blue-eyed, then so much the better. 

The Brisbane venue occupies the plum spot at Eagle Street Pier, upstairs with a 180 degree view of the Brisbane River and Story Bridge.  There’s a number of distinct dining areas with long bench seating for groups, high stools for boozy afternoons or Parisienne style tables for two lining the bottom tier of the indoor dining area with even more bench seating on the wrap around verandah.  A large bar curves around the central atrium with suspended glass racks reflecting light into the indoor dining area.  It’s not quite as spectacular as when 90′s night spot Grand Orbit occupied the premises but it’s a successful design that make the most of the dramatic curves and expansive multi-level space.

Obviously you’ll want to try the beer and schnitzel.  We polished off several Lowenbrau and Hofbrau steins (300ml, 500ml and 1 L all on offer) along with Franziskaner Hefe Weissbier Hell and bottled Paulaner Hefe Weissbier and Franziskaner Kristall Weissbier.  The ‘ladies beer’, a Weissbier with a choice of cherry, peach, banana or lychee flavouring didn’t appeal and the wine list was pretty pedestrian, but it hardly matters since the beer is so good.  Ordering wine here would be like ordering a Thai chicken pasta at the pub.

We chose a pretzel, beef schnitzel and Nurnberger sausages with mash, sauerkraut, onion rings and Lowenbrau jus for lunch along with french fries.  Everything was competently cooked and made with quality ingredients.  I revelled in the flavours of my youth, remembering stealing forkfuls of sauerkraut from the fridge as a kid and the deli next to the fruiterers where my sister and I were given cheese kransky and German sausages to snack on.  The schnitzel filled the plate and was adorned with nothing more than a lemon wedge.  The fries turned out to be chips but they were cooked just the way I like them.   The menu is pretty extensive with salads, starters, schnitzel, mains, house specialties and dessert as well as platters and pizzas.  Pizzas topped with German sausages will no doubt appeal to blokes drinking with other blokes after work who enjoy watching ladies sampling the cocktails and ‘ladies beers’.

Service was a little scattered but then the staff are still settling in.  There was a more than adequate staff to patron ratio when we visited on a wet Saturday afternoon, but getting the bill was close to mission impossible.  After our second failed attempt to get the bill, we got up to pay only to be led on a full circuit of the dining area back to a station metres from our table. 

I’ve already heard someone make comparisons to the venerable German Club opposite the Gabba, and whilst both offer German beers, schnitzel and pork knuckle, they’re two very different animals.  Yes the food is cheaper at the German Club and the beer selection isn’t restricted to stuff made by Anheuser-Busch.  However, the Bavarian Bier Café has great views and a concept that will appeal to tourists, locals and families alike.   As it’s two blocks from my house and has a kitchen that stays open until 10pm every night of the week, I reckon I’ll be back.

Bavarian Bier Cafe

Level 1, Eagle Street Pier

45 Eagle Street, Brisbane

07 3339 0900


Adventures: Eulogy, Philadelphia

When I visit a new city my routine is to ask the bartender ‘whats the local beer?’.  Especially in the US, my most frequent international destination, its also an excellent way to avoid watery, flavourless mass-produced beers and get a little of the local flavour.  Bartenders know stuff you see.  So in preparation for a conference trip to Philadelphia, I’d asked my good mate and conference co-convenor that same question.  Not only did Bob introduce us to the Coopers of Philly – a perfectly respectable lager called Yuengling - he took us to Eulogy Belgian Tavern, a charmingly ramshackle place only a local could know about. 

We were lucky to get a table, perhaps the waiter noticed the excited glow on our faces as he whipped away a ‘reserved’ sign and led us to a chrome and formica table wedged next to the second bar on the upper level.  After welcoming us warmly and providing us with thick spiral bound beer lists/menus we were left awestruck to ponder our preference from a list of over 400 different beers.  Its still got me beat how they accommodate so many different beers in such a pocket hankerchief sized place, but they do.  Nothing was too much trouble and even our most obscure selections were available.

Philadelphia and the surrounding area have a strong German heritage, which perhaps explains the profusion of small breweries in the area.  We started out with some great US craft brewers such as Founders (Michigan), DogFish Head (Delaware) and Victory Brewing Company (Pennsylvania) along with some more widely known Belgian beers from Duvel and Chimay.  This gargantuan list was arranged alphabetically by brewery name with notes on style, location and alcohol volume.  Our waiter was extremely knowledgable and helped some of the less adventurous and more overwhelmed members of our party find something to suit their taste.  The beers arrived perfectly chilled, poured at the table into glassware to suit each selection.

So with a beer in hand, we turned our attention to the menu which offers an excellent range of dishes from the usual Belgian favourites of mussels and frites to innovative mains like lavender roasted chicken with roast vegetables, to a selection of burgers from US hotel standard to the gourmet.  Two of us ordered the house made sausage plate with pork, venison and wild boar and two of us ordered mussels and frites, available four ways.  After much vascilating I went with the lavender roasted chicken.  Good choice.  Mussels and frites were also fantastic.  The presentation of the meals wasn’t fancy, served on household sized flatware best suited to the cosy quarters, however it is clear the chefs know their stuff.  And they deftly deliver a beer friendly menu with something to suit everyone. 

My beer drinking highlight was the Hitachino Nest Classic IPA, brewed in Japan and matured in cedar sake casks with packaging to die for.  This was a really unusual beer.  The cedar flavours were noticeable but nicely balanced with creamy malt and and some spiciness.  It was a nice match for the fragrant lavender roasted chicken maryland. 

Due to our somewhat grueling conference schedule (seven days straight in a dimly lit room, death by powerpoint, with added jetlag anyone?) we didn’t get through anywhere near as much as the list of 400 as I would have liked.  If you are visiting Philly, and I highly recommend you do, then Eulogy should be on your ‘must dine’ list.   And for Aussies feeling homesick, you’ll find Coopers Sparkling Ale and Coopers Vintage Ale at a bargain $5 a glass.  The owners were excited to hear that craft brewing in Australia is producing some great brews and were keen for suggestions on what they could add to their list. 

A fantastic night, and gratitude to Bob Penland for introducing us to Eulogy.