Before visiting Bierschenke, I thought that “eat, drink and be merry” was just another cheesy catchphrase for Christmas cards. Surely not the norm in many London restaurants, where the price for eating and drinking to your heart’s content is often a bill that leaves you everything but merry. Bierschenke, though, is a whole different breed. The atmosphere (and beer selection) is fit to inspire all kinds of merriment, and value for money is fantastic: think eating twice as you would anywhere else, at pretty much the same price.
To my ears, the words “authentic Munich beer hall” evoke flowing rivers of beer, mountains of marvellously stodgy food you can only wash down with more of that booze (not that you need an excuse to order it), and drunken chants coming from rowdy banquet tables. That’s exactly what you get at Bierschenke; the word “authentic” is no exaggeration. Even more in character: wooden furnishings and an impressively long line of beer taps mark out the decor, staff members all speak fluent German, and if you stop by on a football night, you’ll most likely catch the Bundesliga on TV. The ambiance is perfect if you’re planning to get hammered with a large group of friends, or want to savour great food in a lively surrounding – but perhaps not ideal if you’re after a light dinner in a quiet setting. As long as you’re warned, and ready for things to get loud, you’ll be fine. By the time you’ll leave, you’ll be wondering where Bierschenke has been all your life.
Before we move on, I need to make a confession you might not expect from a beer hall review: I don’t drink beer. Since leaving uni, I’ve barely been drinking at all; where Brits challenge themselves to Dry January, the real feat for me would be having 31 drinks in a whole year. Bierschenke’s selection of German and signature beers is wasted on me, but that’s not to say I don’t enjoy taking my partner out for one, or watch with wonder as the City suits surrounding us down countless pints and Steins (that’s one litre per Stein, on an average of three Steins per suit and four suits per table…you do the maths). Multiple rounds of shots invariably ensue, followed by loud, off-key singing, proving without reasonable doubt that they’re having a good time. That’s “drink and be merry” covered, without even touching on “eat”. Speaking of which, if you’re worried that one Stein too many will have you wake up in Ealing Broadway at 1.30am, fear not: Bierschenke’s wonderfully carb-laden dishes will ensure you make the last tube home and get off right where you’re supposed to (as the wise man said, there’s nothing wrong with Ealing Broadway, unless you live in Leytonstone).
When our plates landed in front of us, we felt like Gulliver sitting at the giants’ table. My partner ordered the pork shank, beautifully presented and positively huge: he reports it was excellent, although a tad too fat for his liking; large enough to feed two people, and definitely too big for one (you gotta believe the guy. I once saw him eat a whole chocolate loaf for breakfast, and then have lunch as if nothing had happened). My goulasch featured a more sensible helping of meat…paired with three enormous bread and potato dumplings. The meat was tender and well flavoured, with just the right amount of spice; it took one dumpling and a half to fill me up, and yet they were so good, I couldn’t help wolfing them all down.
Dessert would have felt like overkill to many; to me, it was more of a necessary indulgence. I can resist vanilla ice cream, I can (usually) resist Kaiserschmarrn – but saying no to Apfelstrudel is just not an option, even when it comes in two massive slices I can barely fit in my stomach. What a treat it was: with its thick layer of buttery pastry, its generous apple and raisin filling, and its oozing, warm vanilla sauce on the side, this is easily the best strudel I’ve had in London so far. As for my meal, my verdict is a big fat thumbs up: if this is the way to foodie Nirvana, I’ll walk it again any time.
4 London Wall Buildings
London EC2M 5NT
(nearest tube stations: Liverpool Street, Moorgate)
Open Monday-Friday 11am – 11pm, 12 noon – 12am on Saturdays
0207 100 2500
Note: Zomato invited me to visit Bierschenke, and contributed to the cost of my meal. All opinions are my own.