Address: 5-11 Averill Avenue, Kohimarama
Phone: (09) 528 8012
Seeking sustenance on a Monday night in the suburbs of Auckland can present a girl with difficulties. If restaurants are looking for a night to close, Monday is often the night they choose, and who can blame them.
Not so with Der Metz Restaurant in Kohimarama. I'd been hearing for a while that this German restaurant was a popular one with the locals and open seven days. Off we trotted, having rung ahead to book a table, more as a gesture than anything. So what a surprise when we arrived to find the place was all but full, doing good trade for a cold and breezy Monday night.
Once seated we could take in our surrounds. Wow. What a visual feast. The plain shop-like space has been transformed into a collage of German paraphernalia including ornate Bavarian beer mugs, at least half a dozen authentic-looking cuckoo clocks, strings of flags, a large domineering portrait of King Ludwig II of Bavaria down one end and, at the other, the famous castle that he had built in the late 1800s.
Though we were given menus as soon as we'd been seated, attracting the attention of either of the two waitresses to take our order was somewhat more difficult. Eventually our wild gesturing was noted and food and drinks orders taken.
The menu at Der Metz is extensive with one whole page dedicated entirely to their famed schnitzels. Surprisingly though, it featured only one veal schnitzel, the rest being pork or chicken of some variety. When I asked the waitress which was the more common meat used for schnitzel in Germany (was I misguided in thinking it was veal?) she, despite being half German, said she didn't know. Hmm, I wasn't sure she cared either. To be fair, she was busy, but is it too much to ask of staff that they be informed about the food they are selling?
Anyway, the fine schnitzels could be ordered as a one or two-piece serving at the very reasonable prices of $23 or $26, served plain or with various sauces. My two dining companions were licking their lips in anticipation of a schnitzel so I relented and, for reviewing purposes (oh, the sacrifices we make), ordered the beef gulasch with spatzle.
As other meals were ferried past we began to get nervous - the portions were huge! As we tucked into our shared platter of cold roast pork, farmhouse bacon, liverwurst, pork belly and gherkins, it was dawning on us that while we had thought we were being conservative ordering just a platter of cold cuts to share, we may not have needed a starter at all.
When our mains did arrive we were gob-smacked. The schnitzel, one or two pieces, it didn't matter, completely overlapped the large plates and together with the potato salad or mashed spud that came with them, these were enormous portions.
My dinner friends had each ordered pork - one plain wienerschnitzel, and the other a zigeunerschnitzel, which came served with a sauce of red peppers and mushrooms. Crumbed and fried, these schnitzels are not for the fainthearted. Unfortunately, there's no doubt that the meals presented great value for money, we all agreed that we would've preferred to have less on our plates for more on our tastebuds. The pork was bland, which beat the purpose of having lots of it, and the potato salad had a processed flavour to it.
My gulasch was better. Served in a deep dish it was rich and peppery with the cubed beef tender. The spatzle (noodles) accompanying the stew were soft without being doughy and perfect for soaking up the gravy.
Like many of the other diners we were defeated by the size of our portions but, in the interests of reviewing (did I mention the sacrifices I make?), we ordered an apple strudel. Again the size was impressive but that's where the good impression ended. The filo pastry was soft and undercooked, the filling too piping hot to enjoy. I wondered if it had been microwaved. The vanilla ice-cream had the white translucence of the cheap stuff and my conclusion was that Der Metz has its focus firmly on volume as a means to impress, as opposed to quality.
I know I may be in opposition to many of the locals who frequent this eatery but I'll stake my claim on quality over quantity on any given Monday night. It just tastes better.
From the menu: Brettljause platter $18, Gulasch $18, Schnitzels (wiener and zigeuner) $23 & $26, Apfelstrudel $9.50.
Drinks: Licensed and BYO (corkage $5.00), great selection of beer.