Saturday, 26 March 2011

Bierhaus: Confused but Good

A good post deserves a good title. It took me a while to pick one, and the only way I managed was by promising myself I'd post the alternatives I considered, so here goes:

An Italian restaurant with German Beers?
An Italian Beer House?
An German-Italian Beer House?
An International Beer House?
An Italian restaurant with Larger Selection of Beer?

Anyway, I could go on forever, but I think the point is made: any beer house with a German name that serves "Carpacio Di Beef",  "Spaghetti Pomodoro" and the days Risotto has some serious explaining to do. But first the story of how I got there!

Now I don't have a thing with beer houses. Honestly! I don't know how I've ended up going to another one so soon. Friday was a national holiday and I had picked the short straw in deciding where to go for lunch. Traditionally on this holiday people eat "Bakaliaro Skordalia", basically deep fried battered cod with a garlicky potato and oil purée. That's not what we were going for, but given the brilliantly sunny day, we were thinking along the lines of a fish tavern by the sea. Unfortunately so was everyone else.

We took the car and trekked all the way to the south, out of the city and to an area called 'Agia Marina' only to discover tables packed with people practically going into the sea! We could see the desperation of the customers who gave up trying to get something from the panicked waiter (yes, singular - one waiter) and eventually doing their own waiting! We decided to pass.

So plan B was to go where no one else would have thought of going on this particular day. Where better than a beer house not too far away, in Varkiza, called Bier Haus. I'd done my research earlier and it wasn't too hard to find, situated not on the shore line but hidden away in the residential area above the main sea side road.

On entering Bier Haus, my first thought was "Wow, this is an amazing place to come in the summer after a swim in the sea to enjoy an ice cold beer"! It had a three levelled terrace with seating that was perfect for letting the summer sea breeze in. My second though was "Why are these people eating pasta?".

We sat down and started going through the menu which you can check out for yourself online, and please leave me a comment, let me know that I'm not crazy in saying that about ten percent of it featured remotely German food. I mean I'm reading 'Carpacio', 'Prosciutto', 'Balsamic Vinaigrette', 'Roasted Vegetables with Haloumi', 'Rocket Salad', 'Spagetti Pomodoro', 'Risotto', and the list goes on. Their site does give a little hint though in their description of the place: "German cuisine, adjusted to Mediterranean-Greek demand". Note so self: open a restaurant with "Chinese cuisine, adjusted to Mediterranean-Greek demand". It'll serve duck gyros with ginger tzatziki.

OK, mocking aside, the food we ordered was decent for what is was, the waiter was very pleasant and I did take photos this time (though my photography skills have yet to catch up with my cooking skills), so I am going to put in the effort to tell you about it.We ordered a salad with, among other things, strawberries (better to be in fashion than in season?), roasted vegetables with grilled Haloumi, a mushroom pie, a mixed grill and a roasted pork shank.

The Salad was different. I think the strawberry didn't really belong and the dressing was too sweet for my liking (maybe some acid would have done it justice).

The mushroom pie was tasty, but I would have described it as a cheesy mushroom quiche. 

The gilled vegetables were nicely cooked and had a pleasant crunch to them. However, any possible char grilled taste was covered with the otherwise bland and neutral sauce they were served in. Am I the only one who has never before been served grilled vegetables in a sauce before (which by the way may have well been the same sauce that the shank was covered with).

Now this was, as far a mixed grills goes, a good mixed grill. The chicken was wonderfully tender and juicy, the veal was perfectly cooked medium (that was very nice surprise), the pancetta grilled just right to melt the fat without drying the meat, and everything had that grilled smokiness one expects from a mixed grill. The sausage... eh... I could have done without. And the chips, oh the chips! I admit, I have a soft spot for fries, but these were really really good fries. Fresh, thin, crispy to the ear on the outside and moist and soft inside!

Finally the centrepiece, the roast shank.On the one had it was pointlessly served covered in a sauce of unknown origin and chopped pieces of tomato, on the other hand, the inside was so so meltingly tender and it was served with those amazing fries. I would have liked the skin to be more crispy - but not if that would have meant loosing that juicy interior.

Bottom line, I would go again; in the summer, after a swim. To enjoy a cold beer (though what I didn't mention was that the beer selection wasn't really as large as you'd expect from a beer house) and definitely some food to share, but it's not really somewhere I'd go out of my way to visit.

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