18-28 Market Lane
Melbourne, VIC 3000
Hofbrauhaus is a bit of a Melbourne institution. Like The Waiter’s Club and Supper Inn, it’s been around for as long as anybody cares to remember, and the distinctive experience has not changed since day one. Or so I’ve heard.
If you’ve ever watched a Viking cartoon as a kid, or seen any photos of Oktoberfest, then you know exactly what Hofbrauhaus looks like. They even had an in-house brass brand leading the tavern in a traditional drinking toast, before launching into classic tunes. And yes, all the ladies were in dirndls.
There is a lot to tempt on the menu, but perhaps most drool-worthy of all is the Schweinshax’n ($43.5), an enormous Bavarian roast pork knuckle, with sides of potato and more potato. The mash is heavenly, containing at least 65% (my guess not theirs) butter making it silky smooth and mousse-like in texture. The chunkier potato salad was light and vinegary, and the trio of tubers was completed with a spongy potato dumpling. But enough about variations on the potato (who am I kidding – there is never enough about variations on the potato); let’s knuckle down!
This knuckle was really something; for such a large hunk of meat, it was remarkably well-cooked. The ham hock was sticky and gelatinous, pulling away from the bone in large, steamy chunks. But although it was rich, it wasn’t cloying in the slightest – the fruity beer jus made sure of that.
And look at that crackling! Every inch of this golden armour was perfect, and there was plenty to go around, so I could crunch to my heart’s content.
Despite only having tried one dish, I think I’ve more or less got the measure of Hofbrauhaus. I mean, it’s not like the massive amounts of protein, carbs, and booze would come as a surprise to anyone. Most of the people there on the night were in large groups, sharing tankards of beer and the legendary HB platter, but I reckon a one-on-one date with the goulash would be just as good.
Rating 14/20 – das original und das beste.
This rating reflects my personal experience at the time of visit.