The first thing I think about when I think of Bavarian Bier Cafe in Parramatta is inappropriate cleavage. It all started when Mary, Paul and I went for dinner just before I left for the States. Whilst the food was great and the service, for the most part, exemplary, there was one particular waitress who had her shirt buttoned practically down to her waist, possibly in an attempt to garner tips. Now, if the uniform for the staff was traditional like at The Lowenbrau, then a little cleavage would be understandable; but this was a business shirt, and her bra was visible. In Paul's words, "if I wanted breasts in my face, I would have ordered the chicken schnitzel".
But don't let that faze you (if in fact that would faze you). The restaurant and beir hall are located within the old St Andrew's church on Phillip St, and a lot of the original structure remains. Even the furniture reflects the previous nature of the building, and the stained-glass windows lend colour to an otherwise spartan decor. The food is your typical German, but is executed pretty well, and there's a large range of schnapps and German beers available.
Mary and I decided to start with schnapps while we were waiting for Paul. After we ordered, I went to powder my nose in the ladies' room, and apparently the waitress came bearing a large tray and ringing a bell, only to find Mary by herself, looking very embarrassed at the attention.
The butterscotch schnapps was sweet and fiery, but I actually preferred the sour apple variety - it was fruity and light, and the apple flavour was a great contrast to the alcohol.
The pretzel was very unappetising - it was a dry and shrivelled thing, incredibly salty in some places and flavourless in others.
The garlic bread was also disappointing - the bread was soft and almost cold, and I could barely taste any garlic.
This dish brought the bar back up. The pastry base was thin and crispy, and was a beautiful foil for the soft, creamy ricotta and caramelised onion. Flammenbrot comes in 3 variations here, and we selected the crispy speck, which was a good choice in my opinion: it had a good bite to it, and lent some salt to the almost-bland ricotta.
The Wiener schnitzel was also quite good; the crumbed outer was crisp and delicious, and the veal was moist and tender. It came with sautéed potatoes and a tasty herb mayo.
My pork belly was magnificent. The crackling shattered like thick glass upon impact, salty and sinfully good. The pork underneath was fall-apart soft and rich in flavour thanks to the Lowenbrau bier jus, and it was accompanied by red cabbage and a Granny Smith apple compote.
The Swiss schnitzel was excellent as well, juicy chicken covered in a layer of golden, crisp breadcrumbs, which in turn was covered by double smoked ham and Swiss cheese. This was served with a kipfler potato salad and a mixed green salad.
We were tempted by the Apple Strudle, but we saw someone at the bar that we used to go to school with and that we'd rather avoid, so we paid the bill and ran out. A visit to Bavarian Bier Cafe is definitely worth it though - even if you're not a fan of half-dressed waitresses, the food, beer, and beer-hall atmosphere make up for it.
Bavarian Bier Cafe
2-8 Phillip St
Phone: 02 8836 1400