Buckling under the knuckle

Updated: 2011-08-28 08:01

By Rebecca Lo (China Daily)

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Buckling under the knuckle

A bountiful platter of Weiner Art - plump succulent German sausages bursting with meat and spices. Provided to China Daily

Hong Kong

Berliner's hearty servings of traditional German fare will have you hitting the wall in no time. Rebecca Lo rolls out the review.

My mother used to tell me my eyes were bigger than my tummy. In the case of eating at Berliner, she proved to be right, again. Opened in early August, the Olympian City 3 outlet is well positioned next to luxury residential development The Hermitage and ideal for families living in Kowloon West and Mongkok.

The roughly L-shaped restaurant is anchored by a bar immediately behind the entrance. To the left is the lounge, where you can savor mugs of authentic Bavarian wheat beer, scrumptious cocktails and heady schnapps served in mini glass steins. There is also a pretty outdoor patio adjacent to the lounge where you can dine al fresco or just enjoy a few drinks.

To the right of the bar is a lofty dining area with an open facade with a series of archways that lets diners look right into the generous open kitchen from the mall, and keeps the atmosphere lively and bustling. Large pendant lamps inspired by traditional European wrought iron chandeliers discreetly light the space, and there is a trio of large U-shaped booths for groups of eight to 10 to make merry.

Berliner is named after John F. Kennedy's famous statement, Ich bin ein Berliner.

As he rallied for reunification of East and West Berlin, he was also referencing Berlin's uniquely international place in the world.

In the spirit of JFK, Berliner's menu is forward-looking and contemporary with some of Germany's best dishes represented.

To start, I went for the frothy German chocolate cake, an admittedly girly drink that was a liquid version of black forest cake.

I also tried the Berlin punch made with apple wine, apple schnapps and champagne - a refreshing German version of the champagne cocktail.

Goulash soup with paprika croutons was hearty with big chunks of meat and vegetables.

Its rich, peppery spices reminded me of a cold day in Budapest caf diving into a bowl of hot soup.

Pumpernickel with smoked salmon, potato salad, capers and dill featured thin slices of chewy bread and fresh salmon tangy with lemon.

"Weiner Art", a platter with four types of sausages from four different German cities, is a little like a road trip on your plate.

But my favorite dish of the night was pot roast of beef in burgundy so tender you could cut it a fork, and it had a lovely mellowness from being slowly braised in the wine. Sides of potato pancakes and red cabbage were perfect: simple, straightforward and full of their natural flavors.

"It is home food," says restaurant manager Roland Flachsbarth, a native of Bavaria.

Buckling under the knuckle

"My mother used to make pot roast of beef on Sundays."

By the time the pork knuckle and pan-fried pork schnitzel arrived, I hit the wall. Both were delicious: the knuckle had a crisp outer skin that was akin to suckling pig, while the schnitzel was lightly battered with a hint of fresh herbs. It was too bad I could only try a bite or two of each, along with the apple strudel that rounded out our meal.

I'll have to remember my mother's warning the next time I visit Berliner. The alternative will be to bring a dozen of my closest friends to avoid carb coma. Dinner works out to $200 to $350 per person, and mains are large enough to share.

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 Buckling under the knuckle

The pork knuckle is a delicious challenge for the feisty diner. Provided to China Daily


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