3/354 Brunswick Street, Fortitude Valley
I don't much like takeaway pizza but I love Italian-style thin based pizza. Similarly, whilst I'm not crazy about snags in general, German sausages are a whole different ball game. Our friend Britt brought our attention to an authentic German-style sausage purveyor in Fortitude Valley. Brat Haus started off in December 2013 as a market stall and can still be found at various market sites throughout Brisbane (including: New Farm, Mitchelton, The Gap, Cannon Hill, Bardon, Brookfield and Manly; check out their website for full list of locations). This venture was so successful that they were able to plant a permanent store in the valley and another one in Caxton Street.
A few weeks ago, we arranged to have dinner with Britt and Cajun at the Fortitude Valley location of Brat Haus on a Friday night. The restaurant has a cosy dining space and extended back courtyard that actually belongs to the neighbouring Mexican restaurant. Apparently you can eat Brat Haus dishes in this area but you can't bring your beers over.
We parked at a wooden bench and table set against the wall. Having actually been to Germany (specifically, the Bavarian portion of Germany that prides itself of this type of food and bev), I can say that Brat Haus does emit an authentic German beer hall vibe. It's casual with just the right level of noisy, boisterous conversation.
Bier stick - spicy little meat wands
Marc and I arrived a bit later than the others and they had already ordered some 'bier sticks' and pretzels to start with. I've never tried anything like bier sticks at a restaurant before and really liked it. If you've ever had Hans Striker salami sticks before, it's like that but softer and more giving. I loved the smoky cured flavour and it had a peppery zing to it as well.
Big soft pretzel rolled in sea salt
When I was in Germany, one of my biggest revelations was how much I love pretzels. I nearly ordered one at every meal and more as snacks in between. I've looked up how to bake them at home and upon seeing the recipe specifics, have cast that idea aside as too difficult. It's wonderful to know there's a convenient and reliable place to buy authentic pretzels in Brisbane. These were exactly how I remembered, even better perhaps for the fact that they were freshly baked and piping hot. The inside was soft but the exterior had the iconic yeasty chewiness and pops of rock salt. Delicious.
Trio of German sausages to try
As a group, we tried a platter of sausages cut into bite sized portions. Britt selected the spicy knackwurst, cheese kranski and double smoked bockwurst. I tried to figure out what the difference was between a 'wurst' and a 'kranski' and got nowhere. Semantics aside, all the sausagey bites we tried were super juicy and full of flavour. Marc and I both liked the cheese kranski best although for me it wasn't a clear winner because I kept going back and forth between the three and found it hard to decide which I liked more.
I was fairly full by this point but we still had our mains to contend with. The mains at Brat Haus are such good value, at just under $13 per serve. This is very economic for an inner city/valley location at dinner time on a weekend. With each of the mains, you could choose two of the three sides of garden salad, potato salad or chips. Everyone also got some sauerkraut on their plate.
My pick of the night was the chicken schnitzel. It was way too much for me to finish but I found myself pushing the limit with the chips. They were really good chips, so crunchy and golden. We had an ample choice of sauces at our table too. I didn't really make a dent in my sauerkraut simply because it's not something I enjoy (unless it's hidden with sausage in bread).
Frikadellen - German-style rissoles, grilled and served with mild mustard
Marc and Cajun both ordered the rissoles. Britt chose the meatloaf. Each of the options looked as filling as the last.
Bavarian laberkase - traditional meatloaf, grilled
I can safely say that Brat Haus is not one of those restaurants that leave you longing for more afterwards.
I can't talk about a German restaurant without mentions of beer. Beer was sold in 1L, 500ml and a smaller size that we didn't bother with (beer serving sizes is something I actually got schooled about on the night but have since forgotten). Marc and I tried the Lowenbrau Lager. The challenge with drinking such vast quantities of beer is that the food is already so filling. I literally went home after this meal and fell into a comatose sleep until the next morning.
We had a great meal and catch up at Brat Haus, Fortitude Valley. The environment is perfect for after work food and drinks or weekend social events with friends. My favourites were the sausages we tried, the cured sausage at the start of the night and the freshly baked pretzels. Mains here were excellent value, large in size and served quite quickly too.