If German stereotypes are your thing then you’re guaranteed a night of hilarity at Katzenjammer. An Oom-Pah Brass Band, anyone? However, beneath the borderline contrived theme of the bar, you will find an excellent selection of authentic beer and food.
Set in the beautiful building of the Hop Exchange, a short walk from Borough Market, lies this German theme bar. Inside is pretty bare, although the combination of arched ceilings, brick walls simply painted in white and rows of heavy wooden tables with simple wooden benches, has an appeal. A small corner bar decked out in – you guessed it – heavy wood is small and set back in the corner; however, there is table service here so a large bar isn’t needed and you’re given a welcome reprieve from having to fight your way to the front of the bar to be served. The only embellishments are a few framed prints on the walls showing funny photos of people enjoying beer. A nice touch.
In such a bland setting it’s the atmosphere at Katzenjammer that raises this bar above that of the usual watering holes. The waitresses dress as serving wenches in traditional German attire (or so we’re led to believe) and you will see lederhosen. Seriously. The Oom-Pah Brass Band, who play every Friday night, have to be seen to be believed but they do raise a smile. And the people here love it! Large tankards of beer, real belly laughs and people having a fun night make it hard not to fall in love with this place, a place where it’s Oktoberfest every day. You can expect to find casually dressed locals and after-workers alongside beer connoisseurs who make the effort to hunt this bar out. And boy is the beer worth it.
The Germans aren’t exactly known for their delicate cuisine and Katzenjammer steadfastly remains true to the theme with a huge selection of strange-sounding meats and a lot of sausage, such as the Mischwurstplatte (£5.50), a plate with a selection of four sausages on a bed of sauerkraut including bratwurst, rohpolnische (smokey Polish), kasebeisser (pork with Emmental chunks) and Frankfurter. And that’s before you even get to the sausage menu, which offers a huge selection of meat-in-a-bun with sauerkraut, sweet mustard and onions for £5. They also have a few mains if you can’t face sausages - just be prepared to spit all over your waitress when you order dishes like Muenchuner Schweinshaxe (roasted pork knuckle served with sauerkraut and potato dumplings), for a pricier £9.95.
Can’t face a German theme? Don’t fancy pork knuckle? Then the beer selection alone should tempt you along to Katzenjammer. Draught beer includes Paulaner Original Munchner Hell, Paulaner Hefe-Weissbier, Paulaner Original Munchner Dunkel, Hacker-Pschorr, Kaltenberg Hell, Paulaner Oktoberfest Bier, St Thomas Bavarian Blond and Rosarda – not the kind of choice you get in your local pub. And that doesn’t even take into account the almost 30 bottled beers they offer – all unusual selections with a story to tell. It’s a hugely impressive choice that really makes this bar stand out from the competition. If you don’t like beer then flavoured schnapps and a few unusual German wines round up the selection, as long as you can bear the funny looks from all the beer-loving customers as a wine glass appears at your table. What, you don’t like beer? Weirdo.
The Last Word
Katzenjammer is one of those bars you have to visit at least once in your lifetime. Whilst Irish themed bars are two a penny, the genuine attention paid to the German theme here deserves applause. If nothing else, you have to check out the Oom-Pah lederhosen.