If you work in Melbourne’s CBD, you are probably familiar with Hofbrauhaus, a Market Lane icon that has served up a hearty and authentic Bavarian experience since 1968. Hofbrauhaus features in many corporate memories of long, beery after-work meals that stretched on late into the night and involved a lot of Stein-clinking and schnitzel-eating.
Hofbrauhaus has a sister venue at Hotham – Arco Ski Lodge Bavarian Bier Hall Und Café, where you can get yourself a huge feed of authentic Bavarian cuisine, washed down with imported beer made by the best brewmasters in Bavaria.
Marko Draeger is justifiably proud of his venue, which manages to combine great food and drink with a cruisy atmosphere.
“I’m the only German on the mountain,” he says proudly with his genuine German accent, and he works hard to ensure people get a great, authentic Bavarian experience. They certainly won’t leave hungry.
While vegetarians are catered for and people with specific dietary requirements will be accommodated as much as humanly possible, this is really a meat-eater’s paradise.
The Platter challenge
Pretty much all the menu items are unique at Hotham, but Arco’s signature dish is the infamous Arco Platter, which serves 2-3 people, or 1-2 extremely hungry people with excellent digestion.
The platter features pork knuckle, sausages, Schnitzel, Kassler, Spätzle, red cabbage, mashed potato, pork jus and Bavarian mustard. The mere mention of Kassler, Spätzle, and red cabbage brings back beautiful memories of my German grandmother’s cooking and the nostalgic feeling warms me almost as much as the Arcobräu Weissbier, a tasty, fruity Bavarian wheat Bier with hints of lemon and banana.
Did someone say bier?
Speaking of beer - Arco Ski Lodge exclusively serves beer (bier!) from the famous Arcobräu Brewery, winner of five Gold Medals at the 2013 European Beer awards. Three are bottled and three on tap, so grab yourself an authentic* 1-litre Stein or, if you want to try all three tap Biers, maybe opt for the 300ml or 500ml glasses.
There’s also a range of spirits and Schnapps sourced from Austria and Germany, as well as reasonably-priced top-shelf spirits, and the kids are looked after with traditional Isaperle soft drinks.
Arco has an extensive bar area next to the restaurant, and the feel is definitely one of open-armed European welcome. It’s a comfortable local where you can kick back and relax, and on Sunday nights play a few games of Mario Kart and have a few laughs with other guests. Prost!
*Apparently it’s not well known in Australia that a genuine German Stein is always 1 litre, and heaven knows the Germans are particular about these sorts of things! No small Steins at Arco.