Notably, the Old Street branch of the Bavarian Beerhouse is populated predominantly by men. Whether this is the pull of beer in litre mugs (known as a Mass in German), or the friendly dirndl clad serving girls, I am not entirely sure. Either way, it is lively, light hearted, and Londons closest recreation of infamous Oktoberfest experience.
Something of an indoor beer tent, infused with student union chic, the interior offers no great surprises. There is a simple set up of shared, long wooden tables and benches, with the odd display of beerhall memorabilia and Bavarian kitsch. The space itself is deceptively large, with a somewhat cavernous set up of several reasonably sized dinning areas. There is also a rather cute, Alpine chalet inspired private room available for hire. A great space for a party (as the likes of Ronnie Wood will testify), although the deposit is steep, and involves either a lot of guests or a lot of drinking.
Bavarian Beerhouse Interior
We arrived at 7.30pm, and at this stage the beerhall was fairly placid, with a few checked shirted, medium grade hipsters having a quiet pint. Steadily, the beerhall filled up, as a few large groups arrived, including stag and hen parties. Noise levels rose. The music rose. Guests rose from their seats and sang along. At some point, I noticed I was raising my voice to talk over the music. Then, I noticed the frill encased cleavage paraded behind the bar. A hint of feminist bile rose in my throat, and I thought, Im not going to like this place.
And then, something strange happened. We were overcome by the atmosphere; by the intoxicated jollity and the intoxicating enthusiasm. This, I hasten to add, was long before we had even looked at the schnapps menu. Look around my guest said and show me someone who isnt having a good time. Including the waiting staff, and including ourselves, Im not sure I could have.
Your lovely waitresses for the evening
Surprisingly, the beer list is not particularly lengthy. Nevertheless, all beers are on tap, and there is a good cross section of classic German varieties (including pils, dark and wheat beer) from premium Bavarian breweries. The rich, syrupy Krombacher dark is a particular revelation, and my guest, a German and a beer enthusiast, was impressed by the quality of the beers tested. Unsurprisingly, the wine list is even briefer, but the few on offer are good and reasonably priced. The schnapps list is comprehensive, ranging from traditional liquors (try the red berry flavoured Rote GrÃ¼tze) to modern party favourites, such as Porno Fizz (Ill trust the reader to interpret).
Service was relaxed and warm; we felt hosted, rather than served. Our waitress guided us through the menu, offering recommendations, and teaching us games to play with each drink.
The beerhall serves traditional German dishes (sausages, schnitzel, pork shank), which tend to be hearty and excellent quality. Full meals are available, as well as (primarily sausage and pretzel based) bar snacks, which both come in generous portions.
Tasty German beer on offer at Bavarian Beerhouse
The quality and authenticity of the beer and food is in part because almost everything is imported from Germany. Taking this into account, the prices, which tend not to vary from the average gastro pub, are surprisingly reasonable. Bar snacks cost up to £5.60, whilst main courses range from around £10-16. Beers are priced at £4.30 for a pint, or £8.20 for a two-pint behemoth. Refreshingly, although beer is the bars raison detre, non beer drinkers are not stung with disproportionately expensive prices for wines (from £4.10 a glass), or spirits and mixers (from £3.90).
To some extent, the Bavarian Beerhouse is an acquired taste. The clientele are mostly young and lively, and the atmosphere is laidback and a little rowdy. You may not impress a date or a client by bringing them here. Still, it is certainly a fun place to be, and if you have a taste for it, or find yourself unexpectedly developing one, you might just have a fantastic evening.