AMADEUS BAVARIAN BEER STUBE(111 Richmond West, at York, 416-366-3500) Complete dinners for $50 per person (lunches $40), including all taxes, tip and a pint of imported beer. Average main $19. Open daily 11:30 am to 11:30 pm; bar till close. Closed some holidays. Licensed. Access: barrier-free. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
An annex of the recently launched Amadeus Viennese Restaurant next door, the Bavarian Beer Stube could be called a Peel Pub for Bay Street suits. This cavernous 300-seat bierkeller is also conveniently located opposite the Sheraton and Hilton Hotels and the newly completed Four Seasons opera house, making it a must-visit pit stop for German tourists and lieder lovers alike.
Perhaps that explains the cheesy Tyrolean dirndls worn by the female floor staff, outfits so laughably sexist that I'm amazed no has held a candlelit protest vigil out front.
The bartender gets off no easier. Though not decked out in lederhosen, he's sporting a pair of harness-like suspenders that suggest he's about to be hitched to a sleigh.
Behind him, a pair of plasma TVs broadcast not History Channel stock footage of the invasion of Poland, but the stock ticker and an Italian football game. Instead of a non-stop schlager mix of Heino, David Hasselhoff and Rammstein, the sound system or what we can hear of it over the roar of the room's exhaust seems stuck on Marlene Dietrich's version of We're In The Money. There's nary an Oktoberfest oom-pah-pah to be heard.
Besides the upfront bar area complete with tall tables minus chairs for those who prefer to dine standing up with their stein in one hand and their sausage in the other, there's a raft of tables set up for more conventional supping as well as a couple of secluded booths at the resto's rear. There ensconced, we're pleasantly surprised when a remarkably chipper server oblivious to her getup presents the Beer Stube's bilingual card that ventures beyond our expectations of meat mit more meat.
Sure, there's sausage. Four grilled skinny breakfast-style Nürnberger brats ($9.95) get sided with vinegar-dressed cabbage slaw showered with crumbled bacon and wedges of deep-fried Pommes Pont-Neuf spuds. Almost pâté, a savoury pair of steamed veal weisswurst ($11.95) are plated next to mustardy potato salad garnished with slivered red radish and served with a doughy pretzel that arrives at table hung on its own stand. Sadly, both are sabotaged by pots of mustard that taste like the cheap Heinz hot dog stuff.
Another starter finds meaty slabs of sweetly pickled Bismarck herring ($7.50) topped with a raw slaw of apple and celery seeds and a handful of mesclun deliciously dolloped with lemony sour cream dressing and marinated red onion rings.
Along with a sprig of fresh dill, these same rings add balance to delicately smoked salmon over crisp, grease-free rosti partnered with hard-boiled quails' eggs and crunchy deep-fried capers ($12.50). Only chilled beef salad ($8.50) disenchants, a well-done slice of Sunday dinner roast doused in salad dressing.
From what the menu describes as "unsere beliebtesten hauptspeisen, our most-sought after main dishes," we quickly polish off the house schnitzel ($19), a lightly breaded escalope of Provimi veal sided with roasted red potato, a twisted lemon wedge and a ramekin of tart cranberry jam.
You'll likely need a serious nap after knocking off the Farmer's Feast ($19.50), thick, fatty slices of crackling-topped roast pork, honeyed-ham-like pork tenderloin and deep-fried wurst matched with sweet sauerkraut and a baseball-sized bread dumpling.
Still hankering for animal flesh? Try the beef roulade ($18), slices of braised well-done roast beef stuffed with meat loaf laced with carrot and gherkin. Its heavy accompaniments of spinach spaetzle and deep-fried onion rings technically qualify as vegetables.
The menu's only vegetarian main comfort-food-style egg spaetzle tossed with mild Swiss Appenzeller cheese ($12.50 with green salad) comes with optional cubes of Black Forest ham.
And if that's not rich enough for you, add on a side of Granny-style mashed potatoes thickened with gravy and cream or teeth-achingly sweet braised red cabbage with apple and juniper berries. They could double for dessert alongside the house raspberry linzertorte ($5.95)!
Not to get all self-congratulatory, but this week marks the 10th anniversary of my inaugural column for NOW. For anyone keeping track, this means that I've gone full circle from Amadeu's in the Market - my first review ever in these pages (see Recently Reviewed, page 27) - to the Amadeus Bavarian Beer Stube.
I'd like to thank Fran Schechter and Francie Wyland, NOW's ever-vigilant copy editors, for all their help over the years. Who knew I had participles, let alone dangled them on a regular basis?