Rewind 5 years. Frankfurt, Germany.
Me: Dey, take me and introduce me to some nice German cuisine.
My Tamil friend settled in Germany: German cuisine aaa? Vega vacha panni between bun and a glass of beer. That's all. (For the uninitiated, the literal translation would be, 'Steam pig between a bun ......'
A few days later, we were eating some awesome beef with grilled onions and I question his interpretation of German cuisine. 'Oh, you get these during the fairs only. Yeah, its great!'
Another couple of days later, we were having schnitzel in a German pub with apple beer for him and non alcoholic apple beer for me. I questioned him again. 'Oh, this is actually Austrian, not really German,' he dismissed. Slowly, I figured out some very nice stuff you get in Germany. Yeah, its not Italy or France of Mid east, but it certainly has more to it than steamed pig in a bun!!!! But Oktoberfest is mostly that, with German ladies carrying a dozen glasses of beer in traditionally attire and in the more, well, 'authentic' places, waitresses, lets say, reveal much less to the imagination.
Rewind 2 years. Hyatt Regency, Chennai.
Chef Thomas (the then exec chef): Wasim, can make you some pizza?
Me: No thanks, Chef, I am fine.
Thomas: You won't be fine if you keep eating that much bread with the Madras Curry gravy and nothing else.
All this while, my friend who came with me, stuffed his face with all the pork stuff, looking at me once in a while, like I was missing heaven. And he wrote the review on this blog too! And that is why I didn't bother visiting any Oktoberfest after that in India. The true ones had only pork and beer and thats how it is supposed to be.
This year, when I was invited, I was told that there is a lot more. Two days before I was invited, I was there at another restaurant at Hyatt and I got a glimpse of the fest. It was awesome. German music, fantastic crowd and buzzing! It was a Friday and the crowd was setting in. And so I went. I ensured there was a beer drinking, pork eating bad boy with me, just in case and Sunday we went. Awesome crowd, nice peppy German music and the Oktoberfest spread. Set up in the outdoor smoking area of the 365 AS pub at Hyatt, this was a feast to the eyes, ears and tongue!
Bad boy went gaga over the beer. 'If I drink 4 glasses of the beer, then it is worth every penny of the Rs. 1700 they charge,' he said. He had a nice chilled glass. And ate the pork. And said it was average. Very average. And then he ate a smaller pork sausage. And praised it. And ate it. And praised it. And ate another one. And praised it. And the cycle continued. Waiter came. Waiter poured beer. Bad boy asked details about the beer. Waiter left. Waiter came. Waiter poured a different beer. Bad boy asked name and details. Waiter left. Cycle continued.
Poor me, sat there, watching him. Yes, there were other stuff. Good ones too. A very nice pretzel, a superb beer batter fish, a really nice chicken sausage. A live counter with nice lamb chops. A very different 'German Pasta.' And some average ones too. Like the chicken schnitzel. And sauerkraut. The Madras Curry dip was sorely missed. But this all about the beer and the pork. The rest was there for those accompanying the beer drinker and pork eaters. But there was one more thing that was sooooo awesome. I mean, I didn't think that a simple virgin mojito could be awesome. Common. What can you do to soda, lime and mint leaves? I asked the beer drinking bad boy to taste it. He was a little stunned too. He kept his beer aside and took another sip, so that must mean something. The balance, he said. The balance of the mint and the lime and the sweetness and the soda was perfect. The desserts were killer that day. A nice strudel, that I wish was slightly warmer, a fantastic chocolate mousse and a little profiterole type thing that was nice!
The best part of this Oktoberfest visit? I realised that 365 AS, is a superb watering hole for catching up with bad boys! The setting is classy, the crowd is very nice, the food is very good with Focaccia right next door so you can get stuff from there, an outdoor terrace to step out to and excellent service. The place was packed on Friday and Sunday and a large crowd was inside unwinding, so looks like I am the last to find out about this place!