Sausages, spätzle, and spectacular goulash at this German restaurant.
Brotzeit is one of the new attractions at Shangri-La Plaza Mall’s brand-spanking new street level promenade. An import from Singapore and currently the tenth location in the world, it offers a unique eating experience centering on German cuisine, specifically that from Bavaria, one of the 16 states that make up Germany. It’s always exciting for me to explore the cuisine of a country that I’m only slightly familiar with – what new tastes await!
Billing itself as a German Bier Bar and Restaurant, “Brot” is German for bread, “Zeit” for time, the two thus denoting a hearty meal punctuated with bottles of beer. More on this later.
Bread is a staple food in Germany and a basket of sourdough and multigrain – I suspect a rye and wheat mixture – accompanies the two soups we order. Goulash Soup (P270) is something my Bin considers himself quite the expert on, it apparently being something he grew up with. My mom used to cook this soup for me too and the one at Brotzeit’s is spectacular. Served almost scalding hot, the broth has a deep beef flavor practically tingling with paprika and caraway. Bite-tender chunks of beef pock the broth and potatoes too. Note to self: come back and eat this on a rainy day and share with no one.
Sousing at the bottom of the Onion Soup (P270) is a surprise – a cheese dumpling. Lifted from the abyss by my spoon, it surfaces like a sphere – or a Frisbee. Very dense and al dente, it’s a savory dough dotted with shards of cheese. I like it enough although I find the onion soup itself somewhat underwhelming.
My Bin and I know about Brotzeit’s Pork Knuckle (P1,280) so when we see it on the menu but with the “While Stocks Last” addendum, we order it posthaste. I’m told that it’s cooked in the authentic Bavarian style that makes the restaurant’s German guests feel quite at home. Marinated overnight in Paulaner beer then steam-baked with beer too, there’s not a single drop of oil added, though I’m unsure if that includes the thunderously crunchy skin. Whatever it is, pork knuckle is one of my absolute favorite dishes in the world, especially the baked knuckle that Old Swiss Inn does impeccably. Sadly, Brotzeit’s knuckle is tough and in dire need of seasoning. The so-called special sauce it comes with is equally dismal. Perhaps it will be better next time.
Brotzeit has a bewildering array of what they call Sausages & Platters, testaments to wurst, German for sausage, truly mouthwatering things that can make an entire meal. German custom calls for eating six to twelve wursts from a tin plate with horseradish instead of the more common mustard. Should you wish, Brotzeit has a surfeit of platters (not made of tin, though) that sufficiently satisfy said German custom. There’s no horseradish immediately apparent but a trio of sauces: hot mustard, sweet mustard, and spicy chilli. We enjoy the Pork Cheese Sausages (P480) and my, how addicting are the potato salad, sauerkraut, and fresh pickles that the main dishes come with!
Brotzeit is equally a bier (beer) bar and a restaurant, its interiors are evidence of the German love for it. Wooden banquettes in dark finish and a long bar counter up front dominate, with the latter offset by gleaming beer taps and accoutrements. Taking up residence on an entire wall is Brotzeit’s signature mural with a playful depiction of German beer’s history and cultural importance.
Now about the beer. Wine is more my poison and for medical reasons, I can’t drink beer but it seems obscene to be here and not order one. Offered in 0.3 or 0.5 L, the restaurant is rightfully proud of its beer as it’s made with spring water and produced according to German beer-making traditions. My Bin and I share the Adler (P150), one of the lightest beers on the menu kicked up with some lemonade. Purists will decry this addition no doubt, but it suits us beer newbies just fine.
One of my responsibilities in raising a foodie child is ensuring that my ten year old is exposed to a variety of cuisines – the more unfamiliar, the better. Though she’s happy with the pork cheese sausages, I urge her to try something else. Scanning the menu, she asks, “Mom, what’s spatzul-lee? Her brow is furrowed in frustration, both at such a long word and the seeming discomfort such an odd-sounding dish might bring. “SPET-zul, hon,” I assure her. “It’s a noodle.” Comforted by this, she orders the Cheese Spätzle (P580) and we all end up loving it. Like a great big mac and cheese, each spoonful lifted from the plate yields supple strings of cheese seemingly reluctant to separate from the pack. And those crispy onion rings atop are a genius garnish. Because spätzle has such a high egg content, it’s softer and juicier than other noodles. Interesting to note that almost half of the noodles produced in Germany are consumed in Bavaria, probably in the form of spätzle.
Brotzeit has some of the largest portions I’ve seen served in Manila. Not at all daunting, these helpings are hearty, characteristic of this kind of food which is stick-to-your-ribs and terrific for sharing; plus, any leftovers can be taken home and eaten tomorrow. Another thing I must mention is that I find Brotzeit’s food a bit under-seasoned. I don’t have a salty palate but I find asking for some salt and pepper a necessity here. Other things which I don’t try this time but are highly recommended to me by other people are the crispy chicken salad, grilled pork sausage, breaded pork escalope, and the Brotzeit Platter, a “greatest hits” plate, so to speak.
The apple is Germany’s favorite fruit so it makes sense to order the Apfelstrudel (P280). Like the pork knuckle above, the strudel is one of those things I want to like but it’s cold. And dry. Thank goodness for the thick vanilla ice cream which lubricates it somewhat.
The Emperor’s Cake (P350), is fascinatingly described on the menu as “a shredded pancake.” Riveting sell aside, I suppose it could be agreeable to some, but not to me. It has a texture reminiscent of an overcooked soufflé, and no, that’s not meant to be an insult since this cake has no delusions about coming off as light and airy. It’s a dessert that’s neither here nor there but what will really nail one’s opinions open or shut about this dessert is the so-named plum sauce that it comes with. Tangy and only slightly sweet, I like it very much (though it doesn’t do much for the pancake itself). For my Bin and Boo however, the plum sauce is unbearable – their faces contort almost simultaneously into an expression like that of biting into a whole, raw lemon. “My god, so polarizing!” My Bin declares as he downs yet another glass of water.
Come to Brotzeit with an open mind and an appetite. And don’t forget to bring a group of like-minded friends so that you can sup on beer and sausages and make up your own mind about that plum sauce.
Brotzeit German Bier Bar and Restaurant
Unit 112 Street Level Shangri-La Plaza Mall,
(02) 631 1489