Located just outside of London Bridge station, on the cusp of the hustling and bustling London Borough Market, down two flights of stairs and located in a basement hides a piece of Bavaria. Katzenjammers is a beer hall serving traditional food and drink originated from the south of Germany.
If it wasn’t for such modern touches as the electric lighting, you would think this is a distant village local watering hole in the German-Austrian countryside, not located in central London. It’s exactly what you imagine from a traditional beer hall, its layout is spread out with a low ceiling and the surfaces made up of woods and stone. To get the full experience I thoroughly recommend going with a big group. The tabling is hard, thick wood, which reminds me of church pews. Remember to bring a jumper or a pillow to sit on!
Bring a pillow. . . and a crowd. . .
Furthermore, there aren’t any stools at the bar or small seats for singular patrons. This place emphasises the socialising aspects like traditional village pubs, its easy to see how places like this became cultural hotspots throughout history. It’s supposed to be warm and inviting and sociable. It’s meant for meetings and groups. One problem is that this place has “reserved” signs on nearly every table when I’m there. Book in advance to avoid mcdonalds disappointment.
Not being a huge fan nor an expert of beer – (“why do they all taste like toast?”) – I found myself at odds with the dozen or so continental drinks on tap. Helpfully, should you find yourself confused or intimidated, the (extremely friendly) staff offer to let you try a shot of a beer before buying a glass. My tipple for tonight would be a Steiner of rose beer. This to my surprise hits the spot of sweet without being horrendously on the nose and knackering your pancreas for the next week. A litre Steiner goes for £12.70 and lasts roughly ten minutes. Sweet and tangy to taste, smooth and silky texture. It most certainly compliments a main course.
“. . .this is a meat lovers paradise, classic German food gives a large selection of Die Wurst, specially made with herbs, spices and mixtures of different meat.”
Food wise, although my curiosity is roused by the large menu I had to go with the classic national dish; currywurst – salted french fries, chopped up bratwurst in a smoky, spicy tomato sauce. For roughly £10 you too can taste this vastly underrated and glorious national dish of Deutschland. Traditional dishes such as schnitzels, sausages and breads are available. Service is fast, and the food is amazing quality.
There’s about two main meals on this menu that’s meat free so perhaps vegetarians might want to rain check heading here for dinner. For those of us less morally inclined this is a meat lovers paradise, classic German food gives a large selection of Die Wurst, specially made with herbs, spices and mixtures of different meat. This ain’t your average Richmond, folks. And it’s worth trying.
“Lemme see that drinks menu again?”
Naturally as conversation and dinner ends you’re inclined to a night cap. Luckily Katzenjammers provides a comprehensive schnapps menu with flavours in fruit, chocolate and goldschlager; which I’m certainly not scared to pronounce. Also on sale are a variety of Belgium beers in banana, honey, chocolate and passion fruit flavours that go down very nicely indeed.
The biggest draw back to this whole place is the sheer wall of noise. The acoustics and the building make this place sound like a live concert. This isn’t a problem if you have the lung capacity of a blue whale and the voice of Brian Blessed. For quieter souls I heartedly recommend to stay away during busier hours. I’m not the quietest person and it’s still frustrating when I must yell at the top of my voice to someone sitting opposite me. It ends up with everyone yelling over each other which exasperates the problem. We ought to have a speaking stick, where you can only speak if you are holding it. One stick to a table.
I suppose this is the best argument against going to places that are replications – hyper normality as tourism. Just because something is traditional, doesn’t mean it’s the best way of doing things. Having said that, you’re paying for an experience that many people would never be able to touch outside of countrysides in central Europe.
All in all, definitely a great night, just remember to pack your megaphone. Or beef up on your B.S.L.
Ich bin ein Katzenjammers.