It’s hard to know how to start this review. Do I begin by describing the barmaids who, encased in revealing tops, lure dumb-struck businessmen to the middle bar like sirens calling sailors? Do I talk about the interior, which has a high domed ceiling and art deco design that makes the set of Mad Men look modern? Or do I start by dissecting the various Bavarian beers?
Actually, I think I’ll start by talking about the bathrooms, which take my vote for being the most amazing loos I’ve ever seen. Covered in brown, white and beige tiles to form a reptilian pattern, they’re slightly reminiscent of the work by Barcalona’s Antoni Gaudi – or of being in Austin Power’s bathroom. Either way, and perhaps I need a life, they made my trip worthwhile.
Since I’m too much of a gentleman to describe the bar lasses in detail I’ll simply say the service during my past three visits has been consistently friendly – and on that note I’ll move on to talk about the bar’s atmosphere. On the plus side, the heritage-listed building is stunning inside, from the high ceiling to the old deco light fixtures and clock that seems to have stopped permanently at beer o’clock (aka 5pm). In fact, the interior architecture is so stunning that it almost lowers the tone to have the TV at the back blaring pop videos of half naked starlets, which irked WingWoman who accompanied me on my second visit here. However, we were both happy with our wagyu beef burgers although I probably should have been more traditional and ordered a schnitzel, especially as it was schnitzel Tuesday, which means patrons get a free shot of schnapps after their milk-fed meal. Talking of schnapps, 19 flavours are available although I’ve only tried the honey one, which is gorgeous and, at 35 per cent alcohol, is still weak compared to the Friesengeist Friesen Ghost schnapps that packs 56 per cent.
The beers, however, are the main attraction here and all follow the Bavarian Purity Law of 1516, meaning they each contain only four ingredients: hops, malt, yeast and water. My favourite is the Franziskaner Hefe-Weissbier Hell (5 per cent alcohol), which is a cloudy-looking wheat beer that packs a punch in terms of flavour and aroma (at the risk of sounding pretentious, I’ll say that it has overtones of banana, vanilla and clove). In fact, it’s made me rethink my earlier aversion to wheat beers entirely.
The Paulaner Premium Pils (4.9 per cent) is a close second, thanks to its crisp and bitter flavour followed by the Hofbräu Dunkel (5.5 per cent), which is a lager that has a dark caramel colour and flavour due to the roasted malt. Then again, those after a clean tasting lager with no surprises might want to stick to the Lowenbrau Original (5.2 per cent) that’s very easy to drink.
Bavarian Bier Cafes seem to be popping up all over Sydney – there’s another CBD branch on York Street in addition to bier cafes at Bondi Beach, Manly, Moore Park’s Entertainment Quarter and Parramatta. However, I’m not sure you can beat the Austin Powers loos in the O’Connell Street branch.
Bavarian Bier Café, 16 O’Connell Street, Sydney. Phone: 02 9221 0100 or see the Bavarian Bier Cafe website
Now it’s your turn – how do you rate the Bavarian Bier Cafe?