An informal but aesthetically rich traditional Bavarian beer hall with its own brewery, live entertainment and very well prepared Bavarian comfort food.
Though German food does not have the cache of great French or Italian cooking on the European continent, I was very surprised to find the homey cooking of Paulaner Brauhaus. Tucked into the spectacular Kempinski Hotel here in Suzhou, somehow the Brauhaus holds its own in this most beautiful environment. The lobby of the hotel is an elegant mosaic of earth tones with beige marble, steel accents, rich dark woods and a huge window looking out on a beautifully landscaped designed garden spilling down to the always breathtaking Jinji Lake. The materials are rich but the atmosphere is calming and in a raised area between the entryway and the huge window looking out onto Jinji Lake is a plush coffee and tea area where beautiful and multilingual waitresses quietly ensure the comfort of the guests.
We were greeted by the vivacious Mary Ruan, Public Relations Director and swept into the Paulaner Brauhaus where we were met with at least three large sections of vast beer canisters where the famous Paulaner beers are brewed through the ancient process dating back to the late Middle Ages. We were treated to both the light and dark beers throughout the evening. The taste was delicious and stands out from most beers available in the bottled market. Though I preferred the somewhat heavier taste of the dark beer, both were perfect complements to the delightful three course dinner served by the Master Chef, Sebastian Werbing, an import to China from his native Germany and very prideful of his “home” at the Paulaner. He came to China three years ago after finishing a three year internship in a small restaurant in Germany.
He started us on a “pre-summer” salad of carrots, tomatoes, red onion slices, red pepper slices and romaine lettuce with a tasty peanut dressing. It was refreshing and we noted the crispness and strong tastes of these fresh vegetables. The appetizers were served on a plate, wooden serving board and basket of fresh bread and salt pretzels. This Bortzeibrettl or Bavarian cold cuts were delicious and included sausage, salami, bratwurst and cheese. We eagerly piled the meat and cheese on thick slices of German bread. Alongside was a generous plate of Norwegian smoked salmon with horseradish and capers. This simple combination boasted subtle flavours that complement each other very nicely.
The main course was two simple but well presented dishes that were memorable. The plate of garlic sausages and German potatoe salad came in a heap and we enjoyed piling the sausage and salad on our plates but only after sampling the more than delicious pork tenderloin medallions wrapped in bacon. The roasted potatoes were some of the best I have ever had and the broccoli, carrots and mushrooms in cream sauce showed a deftness with vegetables that actually rival some of the amazing vegetable dishes available here in China.
Desserts were uncommonly good, not being very sweet but with flavours that popped and with textures and ingredients that provided a signature for the highest of quality. The Schwartzwalder Kirschetorte was beautifully presented with two white chocolate hearts and a maraschino cherry stuffed with a small sprig of mint. The taste was sublime and the fresh cherries in the cake made for a wonderful surprise, bringing back memories of this classic dessert from home in the USA. My assistant’s dessert was an amazing New York style cheesecake with an excellent chocolate cracker crust, creamy with nuanced flavour and complemented with fresh mango, a truly artful pairing.
Ambience / Interior:
The Brauhaus is a beautifully appointed informal room with impeccable wood crafted tables and accompanying comfortable benches. Dramatic large storage and brewing canisters dominate the entranceway and provide a genuine feeling of a Bavarian beer hall. There is a stage and the Filipino soloist was excellent, singing mostly English classical soft rock songs and then followed by a quartet including the soloist which sang many more jazz-inspired songs. Though the soloist was much more to my musical taste, both sets were enjoyable and we led the other guests in rounds of much appreciated applause.
Could Be Better:
The wait staff seemed a bit confused as Chef Sebastian decided to serve us personally so they tended to not to be as attentive as they might have been otherwise. However, the staff were ultimately efficient and always polite.
The dark and light Paulaner tap beers were outstanding, some of the best I have ever tasted and a worthy beverage to give the Brauhaus its name.
I was surprised by the total experience which was over three hours long and accompanied by the presence of Mary Ruan, the hotel’s Public Relations Director. The food was very good and the ambiance truly delightful. I am going to arrange a gathering of the expat-Chinese social group I have helped to organise there and found my idea to be most enthusiastically received by both Mary and Sebastian.
This is a venue I will definitely visit on my own and recommend to others.
Service quality: very good
Food quality: very good
Price per head (RMB): 200-300
Add: Kempinski Hotel, 1 Guobin Lu, SIP, Suzhou
Tel: +86 512 6289 7888 ext. 6571
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Keywords: Paulaner Brauhaus Suzhou Paulaner Brauhaus review Suzhou German food Suzhou bavarian beer Suzhou
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