Although these hot weekends we have been enjoying in Perth make getting to sleep at night a little bit difficult, it has been the perfect weather for two of things that Perth does best – beers and beaches. Although I am not a huge fan of the beach due to my fair skin burning after about 5 seconds of midday sunshine, I am a big fan of getting amongst a few beers on the weekend especially with a good group of friends around. Last weekend our location of choice was Zapfhall, a pop up German beer hall perched above the main strip in Freo, with a selection of traditional German beers and food that is good enough to make you believe you’re at the real thing for a little while
A group of us had bought tickets to come here a while ago, over the Christmas/New Years Eve break. Much to our surprise, the day we had booked to go they turned out to be closed – disappointing to say the least! We scrambled around to find a new venue and whiled away that day at Little Creatures Next Door so not all was lost, and we were offered up a free pint on our return for the inconvenience.
When we wandered up at about 4pm last Saturday arvo, there were a few people around but enough free tables to spread out with the crew. Settling in, we grabbed a few menus to see what was on offer and it was exciting to see some beers that you don’t normally get around Perth. This included Weihenstephaner and Hofbrau, the sight of which triggered memories of being at Oktoberfest many years ago. I have to say I was all of a sudden much more grateful for the offer of a free drink and the $20 credit we had from tickets bought many pay-days past, as a pint of beer here sets you back $13; a price that definitely hits the hip pocket hard no matter how good the beer is. There is also some Custard and Co. cider floating around which is a little cheaper, and a cocktail list with a few options around a very respectable $16 if you’re that way inclined.
Grabbing a few drinks, it seemed appropriate to start the afternoon with some snacks to stop the beer taking effect too quickly. Ollie and I decided on the beer bread and obatza ($8) as you can never go wrong with a healthy dose of carbs. The beer bread was absolutely tip-top, dense and fluffy and interspersed with walnuts for a little bit of a fun twist. I wasn’t sure what the obatza was when we ordered it, but it turned out to be a traditional Bavarian beirgarten food comprising of two parts soft cheese melted with one part butter along with some paprika and a little bit of beer (thankyou Wikipedia!). As anything that is two parts cheese and one part butter would be, it was freaking wonderful and made me feel like I had found the pot of a gold at the end of the rainbow. There was also some olive oil for dipping which wasn’t too shabby either.
The other starter that was ordered for the table was the potato chips with crispy chicken skin and aioli ($7). I didn’t try any of the chicken skin, but the potato chips were thick and crunchy, and salty enough to hold their own against the creamy aioli.
One of the more popular items on the menu was the trio of bratwurst sliders ($21), which included on each of:
- sautéed spinach, yoghurt cheese (which basically tasted like sour cream)
- pickled cucumber, apricot compote
- bacon, beetroot chutney
These weren’t that well received, the bread was a apparently a little dry and the sausages themselves weren’t all that exciting. The apricot compote on the sausage was a low point – an ‘unusual and challenging experience’ according to one of my housemates.
Ollie had the bratwurst hotdog with apple sauerkraut, hot mustard, ketchup and cheddar cheese ($17) which went down a lot better. He mentioned that it was a bit spicy but he didn’t have the same complaints that those with the sliders did – I think the more traditional hotdog flavours helped with that.
And then it was time for the pork knuckle ($30) – and boy-oh-boy was it one hell of a pork knuckle. Taking up most of the plate and almost as long as my forearm, as the waitress set it down Ollie asked me if I had ordered that all to myself to which I replied with an emphatic yes. It was covered in crispy, delicious crackling and although I was initially a bit unsure about the corn puree, it wasn’t too sweet and complemented the salty crackling well. The meat underneath all that crispy goodness was tender and moist, falling off the bone in every nook and cranny of that knuckle. As Ollie had suspected, I did not finish it and he was looking gleeful as I handed him my plate to finish it.
A more unusual dish to see on the menu in a German beer hall was lemon and thyme salmon gravlax with fennel and onion remoulade , pumpernickel and beetroot puree ($19). Those who were allergic to gluten-y goodness on our table ordered this one, and it was reportedly tasty and fresh (although I refuse to believe that it could be as good as pork knuckle).
At this point in the night, the cocktails and beer starting flowing a little bit faster, and that is where I will leave this post as my memory gets a little bit more hazy. But our afternoon at Zapfhall was almost as good as afternoons get (as long as I don’t look at my bank account in too much detail) thanks to the yummy food and great company!