Dining: Pork Knuckle at the German Club

by The Editor

With winter almost behind us, The Canberran felt it apt to spend one last night at one of the Southside’s most unsuspecting venues for indulgent behaviour – The Harmonie German Club in Narrabundah.

One of those curious ethnic-based clubs somehow managing to limply survive through the years, the locals simply know it as ‘The German Club’. Most of these people, it would appear, rent a caravan in nearby Symondston.  One young lady must have been on a special night out as, rather than lower the tone of the evening by drinking straight from her can of Woodstock bourbon (available over the bar for $6.50) she was glamming it up with a straw.

Upon entry, one feels uncomfortable without a rugby league jumper, poor dentistry or a pack of Holiday 50s.   I’d imagine if a customer walks in sporting all three, some sort of bell rings, and that customer wins a meat tray to take home and gum on.  It’s really the most amazing venue.

Every cloud has a silver lining, and to find it at the German Club, you simply have to grab a stein of beer from the bar, walk up the stairs and nestle yourself in the salubrious wood paneled dining room.

The Restaurant

There’s only one item on the menu.  Okay, there are actually a number of things on the menu, but there is only one thing you should order:  the pork knuckle.  A heart attack wrapped in crackling, it’s hard to imagine $26.50 could put you any closer to death.

Fair to say, a couple of steins of frothy beer is probably not the way to prepare your stomach for an onslaught that involves consuming what is essentially half a hangi, but the gentle haze of German ale does dull the senses from the stink of the post-war carpet.  Our waitress is a cute little thing decked out in a dress, smock and braided pigtails.  I can’t help but wonder if this is what German brothels might look like, but then I remember the internet.  Thoroughly accommodating, Heidi takes our order (pork knuckle all round), and a drinks order (steins all round) before skipping off to the bar (or perhaps a shift on the webcam).  We’re all set to go.

The Food

With surprising speed, the pork knuckles arrive.  The plate has the visual appeal of a parsnip.  The only colours on the plate are brown (the pork knuckle), brown (the gravy), cream (the mash) and grey (the sauerkraut).   Still, it smells absolutely amazing, and upon extracting Excalibur from the knuckle, a quick tap on the crackling reveals it is cooked to perfection.

I’m an old fashioned purveyor of pork.  For me, the crackling is the main prize, and I like to separate it from the meat, place it to the side and save it for dessert.  On this occasion, it feels as though I am pulling a square foot of crispy fat from the plate, and my eyes light up at the prospect.  A square inch off the side gives me a taste of what is to come, however there is a fairly substantial amount of pork, mash and sauerkraut to get through before I return.  I get stuck into the meal with zeal, washing down the slightly dry meat with large slugs from the steins, recently replenished by Heidi.  It’s starting to hurt, however I am dedicated to the cause.  Very close to the finish line I think there is no way I could possible eat another bite, before all of a sudden finding a piece of crackling under a bone, and all of a sudden I’m at it again.  Mmmm… fat.

The Verdict.

There can be no better way to fill your belly on a cold winter’s night before heading home to hibernate under the covers than a night at the German Club.  Make it past the used-car-salesman-style meat raffle, the blaring Friday night Footy and the horror that is the two metre by two metre framed jigsaw puzzle in the main bar, and you will find the best three kilos of schwein in Kanberra.

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