Bavarian comfort food, extreme quantities of beer, alfresco dining and friendly staff… I’m not sure that Stein’s could tick many more boxes if it tried. Stein’s is exclusive to Richmond and Kingston, and both branches are lucky enough to be perched directly on the river Thames. The tranquil view of solo kayakers and groups of rowers floating passed is definitely not to be sniffed at!
The Richmond branch is a traditional beer garden, with solely an outdoor seating area. Licensing restrictions mean that alcohol can only be ordered if food is being purchased but with the smell of sausages cooking on the BBQ, you would be hard pushed to resist anyway. Unfortunately, however, outdoor dining means that opening is weather dependent and although they are supposedly up and running Monday to Friday 12:00-22:00,and Saturday and Sunday 10:30-22:00, the British weather often has other ideas. It’s definitely worth giving them a call or checking their iPhone app before turning up.
…sauerkraut, which had been marinated in an oak barrel…
The Kingston branch only opened last week and I immediately had to go and check it out. Kingston’s Stein’s does have an inside seating area, which is completely wooden and reminiscent of a ski lodge: an incredibly cosy place to tuck into sausage and mash in the winter.
Faced with a mass of German specialities, including currywurst and goulash, I ordered the sharing platter (£23.90). This came with eight sausages, a mixture of Nürnberger, Bratwurst and Polish, meatloaf and bacon on top of a pile of mashed potato and sauerkraut. Meatloaf isn’t something I would usually go for, but this had an incredible smoky flavour and almost melted in the mouth. The bacon was crisped to perfection and complimented the meatiness of the sausages perfectly. The sausages themselves were packed full of herby flavour and the tangy flavour of the sauerkraut, which had been marinated in an oak barrel, is enough to transform any cabbage doubters. However, if still unsure, platters can alternatively come with a selection of salami, cheeses and bread.
…thinking that a litre of beer might be a little too much…
If you go in a large group, Die Große Bratwurst-Sause (The Giant Sausage Feast) looks like an incredible challenge: a wooden metre platter of sausages, mash and sauerkraut labelled ”for our hungry crowd.” Alternatively, although sausages are the main speciality, there are other options such as bread crumbed pork or chicken escalope, roasted pork shoulder with potato dumplings, or even cheese and onion German noodles.
To wash all of this food down, as the name of the restaurant would suggest, you can opt to have your beer in a ceramic stein. However, thinking that a litre of beer might be a little too much, I opted for a smaller measure. I tried the Paulaner Helles, Munich larger, and the Erdinger Dunkles Weissbier, a dark wheat beer with an exceptionally malty flavour.
…also including steamed yeast cakes with vanilla custard…
Although believing, at the beginning of the meal, that there is always room for apple strudel, I was actually too full. But the desert list, also including steamed yeast cakes with vanilla custard and homemade baked cheese cake, looked incredibly tempting.
The only criticism I might have for Stein’s is that the waiting staff were wearing traditional dress, which I think maybe made the restaurant unnecessarily gimmicky: Stein’s has definitely got great enough food to sell itself on its own.