On a recent visit to Melbourne, as I sat down to what was intended to be a quick dinner with my father and brother before a flight back to Sydney, I got a text message from Jetstar. “Your flight this evening has been cancelled”. Oh my god. I spent the next twenty minutes on the phone to Jetstar trying to book a different flight only for them to put me on an early morning flight the next day, delaying my original flight by twelve hours. I don’t even know where to start with explaining how inconvenient and irritating this was.
On the bright side, at least it meant that we could stay at The Hof Downtown in the Docklands for a longer and more elaborate meal than originally intended. It was quiet on the Monday night that we went, but there were still a few work-wearied groups sharing a beverage or two.
We started off with a fresh warm pretzel served with whipped butter. I personally prefer a softer pretzel, but others liked the crust. Either way, it was delicious though difficult to share equally between three people!
I can hardly remember my father drinking any alcohol during my childhood. From what I can remember, he’s never been much of a drinker. Things have changed in recent years though, and he does enjoy having a beer or two when we go out for dinner, not to mention a glass of wine at home with dinner on some evenings. I ordered the Arcobrau Pils for him, a light and refreshing beer which he described as very more-ish and drinkable, a perfect match for food. My brother ordered the standard Hof’s Lager, and I had the Apfelschorle – a light sparkling and refreshing apple juice.
I knew that we were going to be ordering a gigantic meat platter, so insisted on ordering a healthier side salad as well to try and achieve a more balanced diet! The Rucolosalat, or rocket salad came with a side of charred roasted pumpkin that was deliciously caramelised and sweet. The rocket salad was dressed daintily with a lemony dressing, and sprinkled on top with grains of quinoa and thinly sliced radish. All in all, a lovely side dish.
Unsurprisingly, I over-ordered and got these Aubergine Pommes which we really didn’t need given how much I had ordered. Still, I don’t regret ordering these polenta-covered eggplant chips, because they were simply divine – crispy on the outside, and nice and soft on the inside, served with tangy garlic mayo.
The main highlight of dinner was the Hof’s Platte, a sharing platter of meat for two. Honestly, they say “for two people”, but you could easily share this platter between three people with no extra side dishes, and still be completely satisfied. It comes with a selection of pork knuckle, pork belly, sausages, schnitzels, sauerkraut, red cabbage, mashed potato, potato dumplings and a little pitcher of bier jus as gravy to dress the massive portions of meat and potato. My favourite was probably the pork belly with its super crispy crackling, but it was all very satisfying!
I was absolutely stuffed to the brim by that point, but my brother insisted on ordering dessert to share – an Apfelstrudel. Im glad he did – the thin pastry wrapped around honeyed and cinnamon-spiced slices of apple was simply amazing, and a great way to finish off our meal.
There’s now only weeks to go until we’re in Germany. The Hof Downtown has certainly given me a taste for things like roast pork belly and apfelstrudel, so I guess I better buy one size up in my jeans in preparation…