If, at conception, you were offered the chance to be born in another country other than your own, which one would you choose? Italy or France perhaps? Or possibly a beautiful island somewhere in the Caribbean?
One country you may not consider is Germany. But why not? What would it be like to be a German citizen? Not so good if you want to tell funny jokes and watch good television. And definitely not the place to be if you like a freshly waxed leg or armpit. However, despite these minor issues, there are many things that the country should be very proud of - it's wonderful ability to make cars, for one. It's culture too - I hear that Beethoven, Bach and Einstein were hugely successful in their respective areas.
But, of course, Germany's biggest gift to the world is it's beer. And the best part is, the whole country gets to enjoy the party. Here in the USA, our biggest holiday is thanksgiving. We get a day off on Thursday, and if you are lucky, somebody somewhere decides that you get Friday off work too. Brilliant! But is it? In Munich, they have Oktoberfest. Where, for two weeks, everyone drinks lots of beer, and falls off tables. That sounds like much more fun.
The country has also given us some imaginative food. Hamburgers for instance - contrary to popular belief, they are not made with ham at all, but beef!!! Who knew? In fact, they were actually brought to the USA by immigrants from Hamburg, Germany. This was obviously a huge success, because they invited their cousins from Frankfurt, and thus another staple of American cuisine is born.
It was the latter gastronomic experience that I had in mind when my wife and I sat down for a stein or two at the new Hofbrau Haus restaurant on Lincoln Road. Purporting to offer a traditional Teutonic eating and drinking experience, the decor immediately drew us away from the fantasy - it's appearance owed far more to it's predecessor, The Lincoln Road Cafe than it did to anything you will ever see in Germany, or for that matter, Europe.
But we didn't let that bother us, - the menu tempted us with a plethora of delicious looking sausages, schnitzels and soups which we could not wait to enjoy.
My wife started with the potato soup, which was a hearty concoction of potato, mushrooms and sausage. Nothing ground breaking, but better than my unexciting chicken broth. It was during this time that we debated the authenticity of our German dining experience. We couldn't work out the nationality of our waiter, so we asked him where he was from. Cuba, as it turned out. Which, for the uninitiated, is not in Alemania.
The main course was first frustrating. Apparently the chef is very insistent that you can not make any changes to the meals on the menu. Which is fine if you are dining at the Ritz, but Hofbrau Haus is certainly not that, which just makes it annoying.
To give the restaurant its due, the main courses were pretty good. We both enjoyed a selection of different bratwursts, frankfurters and sauerkraut. If it wasn't for what followed next, I would recommend these dishes wholeheartedly. In fact, we asked the waiter to box some of the things we hadn't eaten, and looked forward to sharing them with friends that we would see later.
But, as we waited for the check, we happened to look across to the large window at the front of the restaurant, where we saw what appeared to be some sort of giant bug, walking across the inside of the glass.
Appearances, sadly, were not deceptive, and as my wife screamed, and jumped out of her seat, I contemplated the damage that the sight of a huge cockroach can do to your opinion of a particular restaurant. We decided to not share the rest of our sausages.
If I were you, I would definitely take the time to visit Hofbrau Haus. Have a big beer. Then go to Ms Yips for dinner...