Lowenbrau Keller, The Rocks, Sydney

'Willkommen', a pretty fra

'Willkommen', a pretty fraulein greets us at our table

There is a lot happening in Sydney this month of October 2011.

Not only is the Crave Sydney International Food Festival happening in cafes, restaurants and parks all over Sydney, Oktoberfest is also happening at Bavarian bars, German restaurants and pubs all over the city. It is indeed a great atmosphere if you are caught up having a drink or dining at one of these outlets.

October is also internationally known as Breast Cancer Month and Pink Ribbon Day is on 24 October 2011. During this month, we are also among one of ten food bloggers from around the world competing in the Royal Selangor 30-day ‘Get Your Jelly On’ challenge by posting a recipe each day on their blogs for thirty days to raise awareness and support for breast cancer.

We decided to give our Royal Selangor jelly moulds a small break by visiting one of the many German restaurants where Oktoberfest is in full swing. By far the biggest one in Sydney is Lowebrau Keller at The Rocks and if you want a great Oktoberfest in Sydney, there is no other place like this one!

This restaurant is huge and by that it is spread over two levels where I estimate it would seat almost a thousand people. We arrive at 8.30pm on a Friday night and this place is rocking and in full swing despite the wet and cold weather outside.

Large crowds in the ground floor dining room at Lowenbrau

Large crowds enjoying Oktoberfest in the ground floor dining room at Lowenbrau

I have been coming to this restaurant for years now and it looks like things have hardly changed. Think free flowing beer, loud, crowds, giant pretzels, beer-tasting palettes, oven-roasted pork knuckles every which way you look and you get the idea.

Free flowing beer at the bar

Free flowing beer at the bar

As our table is not ready, we squeeze and worm our way through the crowd until we settle at a spot by the bar.

Peak hour traffic at the Lowenbrau keller

Peak hour traffic at the Lowenbrau

The bartenders are at full swing and beers are literally flowing non-stop from the taps. Three to four sets of hands are simultaneously working overtime pouring and leveling off beer heads for thirsty drinkers.

It is a spectacle in itself watching all the huge glass mugs being used and replenish as fast as we can count out loud.

Franziskaner Hefe-Weissbier Hell

Franziskaner Hefe-Weissbier Hell, small $8.00 large $12.00

We both order the Franziskaner Hefe-Weissbier Hell, an unfiltered beer (5% alcohol content) that is full of banana and vanilla flavours.

Pretzel $2.00

Pretzel $2.00

Mysaucepan feels a little peckish so she gets a pretzel from the bar. Not the best pretzel that we have tasted because the dough is very chewy nevertheless a bit of salt and the beers whets our appetite even further.

Trombonist of the Omp-pah-pah band

Trombonist and MC for the omp-pah-pah band

Hoards of tourists flock to this place to soak up the atmosphere where there is an omp-pah-pah band on each level of the restaurant taking centre stage. Classics like My Favourite ThingsDo-Re-Mi and Sixteen Going On Seventeen from the 1965 hit musical The Sound of Music have diners taking to the stage with sing-alongs and dancing.

Oktoberfest at upstairs dining room, Lowenbrau

Oktoberfest at upstairs dining room, Lowenbrau

This restaurant dishes out food as fast as you can count and at each level, service staff are ushering diners to their tables,  serving huge jugs of beer and food and resetting tables are we make our way to ours.

Replenishing mustard and sauces

Replenishing mustard and sauces

When you come to a German restaurant, you really need to order the house specials. These include a Schlachtplatte ($39.50) which is Lowenbrau’s selection of Bavarian sausages, chicken schnitzel, meat loaf and roast pork belly served with mashed potato, sauerkraut, braised red cabbage, bread dumpling and bier gravy.

Schweinshaxn $34.50

Mysaucepan settles for the Schweinshaxn, which is oven roasted pork knuckle served with sauerkraut, mashed potato and Lowenbrau bier sauce. This dish is by far the most popular and we must have seen as least a few dozens being served on our way to our table.

Schweinshaxn $34.50

The pork knuckle is tasty although the crackling is quite tough and dry. The mash potato is creamy and sauerkraut stock standard. Judging by its popularity, this dish is made in volumes and I suspect quality would suffer somewhat.

The last time we were here was about two years ago and I have my favourite dish and every time I am here, I never fail to order it.

Zuricher Geschnetzeltes $31.50

The Zuricher Geschnetzeltes has been truly my favourite dish at this restaurant for many years. I remember this dish used to be about $19.oo way back perhaps ten years ago and I would have married any German girl who would cook this dish for me. Back then, the sauce is thicker, creamier and there were long, tender strips of pan seared veal on one side and golden brown potato rosti on another side of a rustic cast iron pan.

Over the years, I have witness this dish slowly deteriorate to its current state –  watery sauce with a small piece of potato rosti floating in the middle and veal meat that has been pre-cooked and broken up rather than veal strips and served on a regular deep dinner plate. Disappointing as it may be as I reminisce what this dish used to be, it is still nevertheless tasty albeit a shadow of its former glory. After tonight’s rendition, I know I am going to prepare this dish for myself at home with proper cuts of veal, freshly grated potatoes seasoned with beautiful EVOO that would come out of my oven in a toasty golden brown.

In having these two dishes tonight, the trick is to use the creamy veal sauce as a dip for the dry pork knuckle meat and the combination of these two dishes together does pan out to be passable. For anyone coming to Lowenbrau for the first time, I would recommend these two dishes as a combination to complement each other.

Nail hammering competition at Lowenbrau

While we dine, we are also entertained by competitions happening on each floor. The nail-hammering competition pits three men together and the winner is the fastest one hammering the nail into a log of wood.

Women are not left out and it seems the roles are reversed where they compete in a beer-drinking competition.

Although the food is average, I find it excusable because Lowenbrau is a theme restaurant, that is, most diners that come here are also factoring the entertainment value into their dining equation where food is not the be all and end all. Somehow, we find it easy to forgive the average and stock standard food because it does taste somewhat good when you are in a happy mood.

What was a roasted pork knuckle

Despite the dry pork knuckle, I still find myself finishing off Mysaucepan‘s leftovers because when it comes down to it, the food is still pretty tasty.

Will I come back again? I sure will but not for a while. And if I have friends visiting from overseas, I have no hesitation bringing them here if they so wish because this is one atmosphere that is worth soaking up.

Lowenbrau Keller
Cnr Playfair & Argyle streets

The Rocks, Sydney 2000
Tel: +61 2 9247 7785

Open 7 days, 9am till late

Note: Lowenbrau Keller is also in the Entertainment Book where the offer is one complimentary main course when another main course of equal or greater value is purchased up to a limit of $39.00.

Lowenbrau Keller on Urbanspoon

Visit the Crave Sydney International Food Festival website at www.cravesydney.com

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10 Responses to Lowenbrau Keller, The Rocks, Sydney

  1. JasmyneTea says:

    I love German food, but would probably only go to Lowenbrau for the entertainment – there are definitely better restaurants in Sydney in terms of quality of food. I love your photos though, and I bet it was a great night out!

  2. Geni says:

    Too fun! Great food, great music, great drinks. Why was I not invited. So jealous!

  3. Sissi says:

    I love Franziskaner (in fact my favourite beers are white, like Franziskaner, and Guinness… those in between can stop existing).
    I like pork knuckles, but from my Central-European experience and memory men eat the skin and women always leave it ;-)
    I have to check if Zuricher Geschnetzeltes is this restaurant’s invention or a dish which can be tasted in Zurich. If it is a real Zurich specialty, I must taste it next time I go there. (Rösti is definitely a German-speaking Switzerland specialty).

  4. Fiona N says:

    Hello there Sissi.

    Zuricher Geschnetzeltes is a popular dish invented by the Swiss (on the German side), well at least they claim so anyway :)
    I know of 2 places serving up what many considered the best Zuricher Geschnetzeltes; so next time you are in Zurich, do try Zunfthaus Zurwaag on Munsterhof 8 or Brasserie Johanniter on Neiderdorfstrasse 70.

    Hope this helps.

    • Chopinand says:

      Hi Fiona N,

      Can you cook this dish for me?? :) :) I put this dish along side my fave char kway teow!

    • Sissi says:

      Thank you so much, Fiona! In the French-speaking part of Switzerland (especially the one very close to France), French cuisine seems to be more popular…
      Thank you for the restaurant addresses! I hope to use your advise very soon!

  5. Carolyn Jung says:

    Somehow I get the feeling this place never has a problem getting the party started any night of the week. ;)

  6. Winston says:

    Ohhh man… I really wanted to come here when I was up in Sydney few weeks ago cause they started celebrating Oktoberfest. The food and beer really appeals to me. Maybe next time =)

  7. Kimby says:

    What a fun-looking place! I agree with you, sometimes “just for the fun of it” outweighs food “quality” — sorry to hear your favorite dish suffered, though. Glad you took a break from the jelly mould adventure — hope you left with a renewed spirit and excitement to finish out the rest of the month with a flourish. I’m still amazed by what you’ve come up with — so appetizing, beautiful and TASTY! (I was even inspired to get out my Chopin books and play… like your header photo; I have the same books!) The Opus 25, No. 1 was a good workout for the fingers! Take care.

  8. Hahaha, I can’t believe you have that Löwenbräu Keller in Australia! :D And did the Schweinshaxn come with that knife in it? :D

    Now I must confess something to you: I’ve never been to the Oktoberfest in München! (But I’ve been to Bavaria a couple of times and like it a lot.) I’m from northern Germany that is *very* different to Bavaria in many respects (northern Germany also a variety of nive beers, btw). Some day I’ll expose myself to the Oktoberfest, maybe … ;)

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