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Spatenhaus an der Oper
Residenzstrasse 12, Munich

Loud, bustling, and a bit on the touristy side, this fabled beer restaurant is a favorite with locals and foreign visitors alike. And since it overlooks the opera on the Max-Joseph Platz, it is busy most of the time, which is daily from 9:30 a.m.  12:30 a.m.

The interior is huge, with a crowded combo of cozy nooks & crannies and large tables accommodating a variety of revelers. Heavy light wood dominates the scene, while a magnificent mural graces the ceiling in the front dining area. Service here can be perfunctory or exceedingly gracious and helpful, depending on the luck of the draw. The food, however, is the chief attraction: It is traditional Bavarian fare that is extremely well-prepared, generously proportioned, moderately priced, and certainly surpassed anything I sampled at the aforementioned Palais Keller. Suffice it to say, you won't go hungry here.

A basket of big, delicious soft pretzels graces the center of your table, and you will be charged for whatever you may choose to eat (1,00€ per pretzel). But don't get too filled up, as there are far more interesting items to assuage your appetite. Should you drop in for lunch, the wurstsalat mit käse (9,50€) is excellent. Thick slices of sausage are topped with shredded cheese and and come replete with slices of rye bread and a zippy dressing. But the spicy German mustard is also an essential traveling companion.

The salad of homemade beef in aspic (11,90€) is also an wonderful choice. The beef is  zestfully seasoned, and four generous rectangular segments are arranged on a bed of mixed greens and sided by a rich, creamy dressing. The presentation also comes with the most satisfying side of golden brown shredded potatoes -- the consistency of hash browns -- it has ever been my pleasure to ingest.

At dinner, we started things off with a hearty potato soup (4,90€). This was not cream based, but a flavorful broth embellished chunks of tender potato, bits of bacon, crunchy homemade croutons, and spirited tincture of marjoram. The perfect prelude for a cold, slightly snowy winter's night, it was faintly reminiscent of a homey minestrone.

Since our friends from Bremen, Heike and Rolf Eggers, joined us for dinner, we were able to sample an interesting cross-section of typical Bavarian dishes. The sauerbraten (15,90€), for example, was absolutely benchmark. The beef was incredibly tender, beautifully seasoned, sided with red cabbage & potato-semolina dumplings, and finished with a rich gravy. The roast pork (13,90€) was marvelously moist, also accompanied by red cabbage and dumplings, and consummated with a heady dark beer sauce.

The bratwurst (11,40€), consisting of 8 generous links set on a bed of caraway-infused sauerkraut, was quintessential Bavarian comfort food taken to the max. The Wiener schnitzel (19,90€) was classic in every sense of the word. The breading exhibited gentle ripples, was tender yet firm to the bite, and was companioned by more of those delicious golden brown shredded potatoes.

For dessert, the Rote Grutze (5,90€), a fruit pudding topped with a bourbon/vanilla sauce, was my wife's sentimental favorite; and the apple cake (7,50€) -- 2 deep-fried donut-like confections filled with apple slices and garnished with vanilla ice cream and dollop of whipped cream -- proved to be a homey delight.

The wine list was surprisingly limited; however, several glasses of Silvaner (7,10€), a crisp, refreshing acidic white wine, filled the bill quite nicely. Of course, to really get into the Germanic spirit, one should accompany the meal with Spaten-Franziskaner-Bier, the restaurant's own brew.

When in Munich, the Spatenhaus is always worth a visit.

The Artful Diner
November 2007

The Artful Diner is an independent, freelance food writer.  His latest review and an archive of past reviews for restaurants around the country and the world can be found on this site on the REVIEWS page.

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