West end, Mid-level
Southbank, VIC 3006
I may be a foodie, but I’m pretty chill about it all things considered. Though I am very much on the constant lookout for new places to eat (and blog), I’m happiest just stumbling across them in my own time instead of hunting them down. After all, I’m a pretty stressed person – I’ve yet to go to a masseuse who hasn’t commented on the tension in my neck and shoulders.
Because of that however, I never make the most of the myriad of foodie events that go on in Melbourne. I don’t want to learn to cook fancy dishes, I don’t want to go to a lecture about where restaurants source their produce, and I definitely do not want to eat festival-specific set-menus, as they usually turn out to be incredibly underwhelming. But when an invite turned up during the Melbourne Food and Wine festival for Hophaus Bier Bar Grill, I was won over by the promise of an all-German tasting platter.
I was incredibly surprised by the size of Hophaus. I wandered through the restaurant with my mouth gaping, going past a beautiful bar, cosy booths, round tables, and bar seating, before emerging onto the balcony, which was glittering in the calm after the previous night’s summer storm. I also met my new best friend – a whole suckling pig on a spit, who provoked a bit of a Homer Simpson Response from me. And if you’re wondering why there’s no photo, it’s because I couldn’t get one that didn’t look so much like, well, a pig carcass. If you’re still keen however, here is a much nicer shot by Gastrology.
The Tasting Board ($15) came on a cute little wooden paddle lined with newspaper. We were treated to a selection of Germanic delights, including pulled pork, corned beef, pork and veal sausage, marinated herring, house pickle, and some toasted rye bread.
Things made a good start with the Pulled Pork. Moist and tender, it was given a slight oriental twist with the use of cinnamon. Mixed in was some slaw to give it crunch, and the two slices of syrupy braised apple paired with the pork like peanut butter and chocolate.
I was equally as, if not more impressed by the Pork and Veal Sausage. It was deliciously meaty without the greasy after-taste, and the casing was satisfying snappy. Likewise, the Corned Beef was also very tasty, encrusted in a layer of spices. And to cut through all that meat, the House Pickle was crisp and refreshing – the perfect balance between sweet and sour.
The last item on the plate was the Marinated Herring. The fat slab of fish was briny and heavily salted, and though good in small doses, I just couldn’t handle that much sodium in one go, and left most of it untouched.
To balance out our meal somewhat, we ordered the Leaves, Shredded, Radish, Creamy Dill Dressing ($7) off the main menu. The first thing I have to say about this salad is that, the dressing tastes like Big Mac Sauce, and as a result, was annoyingly addictive. Which is just as well, because the rest of the salad was a profound disappointment. It consisted of mostly shredded iceberg lettuce, with only a scant few pieces of Mesclun and radish thrown into the mix. But then again, sauerkraut aside, German food is hardly known for its salad.
Though most of the tasting platter was pretty scrumptious, I had one major complaint – the bread. It was toasted so excessively that it each bite splintered loudly enough to make my ears ring, and my mouth was literally bleeding a little by the end. Aside from the painful bread experience and harried waitresses however, Hophaus has caught my attention enough to warrant a re-visit. I’m still not a fan of set menus for special events, but the pork knuckle sitting a few tables down has me intrigued.
Rating: 12.5/20 – but wait, let me try the pork knuckle.
This rating reflects my personal experience at the time of visit.
Sweet and Sour Fork dined as a guest of Hophaus Bier Bar Grill.