In preparation for our trip to Southwold, we had the intention of buying a multitude of delicious deli foods and snacks from Borough Market in London Bridge. We had skipped breakfast so that we could "sample" snack and grab lunch at a stall, so by the time we arrived in South London we were starving. Then disaster struck. The market was still closed for the Christmas holidays. Fail! Thwarted and jaded after journeying across the City for nothing, we scrounged around for alternative lunch venues.
Randomly, Keith did a search on his phone and found Katzenjammers, which is a German / Austrian restaurant. If I am being honest with myself it sounded very unappealing. Reluctantly, I agreed to look at the menu. As if the image in my head was not bad enough Keith pointed to some random stairs leading underground. Images of Austrian serial killers swarmed in my head. "You are joking!" I scoffed in disbelief.
Miraculously, curiosity overcame fear and I followed Keith down the staircase with strange murals of steins and bottles on the walls. In the dining hall, it was several minutes later when I realised that we had not spoken, our eyes were wide open and mouths agape like crocodiles. The room was large and open planned with an obviously well stocked bar at the far end. The ceiling was vaulted, but plainly decorated; just white washed brick work and large poster pictures. The furniture consisted of pale, blond large kitchen tables with heavy benches. We found it quirky and fascinating!
I happily agreed to eat. The menu had a choice of at least 35 beers. The wine list was less expansive, and in fact, two of the red wine options were not available. It could have been on account of the holidays.
For starters, I chose what I can only describe as Bavarian macaroni and cheese. Keith picked a Bavarian ravioli topped with tangy tomatoes and crispy onions. The portion size of my pasta was huge. The cheese used was very mild and non-greasy and intermingled was red onions. It was strange, but not necessarily in a negative away. With every moorish mouthful I ventured, I expected it to turn into mac 'n' cheese. Of course it never did. Keith's herby pork ravioli was cooked perfectly. The texture was firm and the ravioli was smothered with a thick, juicy tomato sauce. Whilst it was very similar to Italian ravioli, it was made special by the rustic homemade feel to the dish.
We ordered more beer and wine whilst we waited for our mains. A group of strapping young lads were taking up two tables. At one stage, one of the guys was balancing a tankard of beer on his chest (much like a seal with a ball). The waitresses did not smile until the moment they placed whatever they were serving down in front of them. Then they would burst into a genuine smile. They would carry multiple tankards of beer in one go and slop then down as beer spilt everywhere. The group of lads would roar everytime this happened. It occurred to me we had walked into a Bavarian cliché. Then, at one stage the strapping young lads took it in turns to do press-ups! All that was missing was a monkey wearing lederhosen playing a lute!
As if on cue, the waitress appeared with traditional schnitzel for me and pork and beef sausages for Keith, both accompanied with pommes frites. The strapping lads, beers, and now sausages were all very masculine. I was basking in the high levels of testosterone in the room. My schnitzel looked very appetising. Again, it was a generous portion size, but also a beautiful golden colour. The pork was lean, tender, whilst the breadcrumbs coating provided the meat with crunch. As one might expect there was ample selections of sausages; platters, taster plates, single sausages or two types. Keith chose a beef sausage which was tender and smoky and a pork sauage which was spicy, peppery and chewier. It was a proper, wholesome dish. We seemed to be eating forever, which was probably on account of the colossal portions. We liked that.
Dessert was a let down. We spied the strudel and made a pact that we would only order it if it was homemade. We asked the waitress and she confirmed it was. As the atmosphere was quite lively, there was a chance she misunderstood us. I am sorry to report that it was almost certainly a Sara Lee strudel. To add to the disappointment the ice cream was about 60% ice and 40% some tasteless matter pretending to be a dessert. Oh well! We love strudel so no real harm done.
A late lunch in Katzenjammers was unexpected. However, we loved the unusual atmosphere, uniqueness of the restaurant and homely cooked meals. It would be great for dining out with friends. Beer swilling good fun!