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Published June 18th 2022
Authentic German comfort food for cold winter nights
Baby it's cold outside. The chilliest start to winter in decades.
But don't sit there shivering with your knees drawn up under a rug worrying about electricity bills.
Because I've found the perfect place to fend off the winter blues.
The German Club Tivoli on Dandenong Road Prahran offers an electrifying atmosphere where instead of thinking about cold snaps you can enjoy the fire of real schnapps (up to 52% proof) in your belly and mountains of German comfort food.
The German Club Tivoli traces its roots to early German-language clubs in Melbourne in the 1850s and 60s and moved to its present club rooms in Dandenong Rd Prahran/Windsor in 1989.
So, it's well-known to Melbourne's German community and for the rest of us, it's a warm and wonderful chance to soak up the food and culture of the European trips we have been deprived of for so long.
Being on Dandenong Road I worried parking might be tight But I was delighted to find the German Club has a good-sized carpark away from the traffic. And a tram stop virtually outside.
Shedding puffer jackets, scarves and hats we climbed the internal stairs to the bistro floor to be met by our waitress looking charming in a traditional costume of a close-fitting bodice featuring a low neckline, a blouse worn under the bodice, and a wide high-waisted skirt and an apron.
The food is everything you could dream of on a cold winter's night: pork knuckle, sausages, huge schnitzels, piquant Sauerkraut, freshly baked pretzels and a brilliant range of German beers. Or should I say Bier, given the brew is a key part of Germany's history and culture!
As in a traditional bier hall, there were large groups of friends and plenty of families. It added to the sense of fun with friends clinking their steins over huge feast platters. These platters would be great value if you were out with friends. The top photo on this page is of the Bavarian Sausage Platter which looks like it would feed the German army.
My eating partner is quite demure in her portion sizes but makes a hearty attempt when presented with a Rindfleisch & Rotwein goulash kuchen - beef and red wine pie with mashed potatoes and buttered green beans. She said the meat was fall-apart gorgeous.
As I love a good German sausage I went through, the large selection with the knowledgeable waitress finally settling on a Weisswurst, a white sausage made from a mixture of finely minced veal and back bacon stuffed with parsley, onions and fresh lemon and ground spices. And a Nürnberger Bratwurst - pork sausage seasoned with marjoram and ginger.
They came with a hearty mountain of buttery mash and sauerkraut.
Looking around at the decor it is clubby. Lots of wood and trophies from various events and crested chairs. And pictures of iconic German scenery including Neuschwanstein Castle: the jewel of Europe's fairy-tale castles.
There's a cut-out of a fräulein on the women's toilet door which is just as well. I remember walking into the Herrentoilette in Germany because I deciphered the sign as 'her toilet'. Boy, did I get a surprise as did the bemused men!
We did have a peek in this separate room and it looked fun. Leaving, we took photos in the foyer of the cutouts where you stick your head in the hole. I sent my mug shot below to a friend who replied - "I love the Tivoli German Club and I used to dance the night away with my ex. You look like a Bayerische jungen Frau or German young lady and very happy."
And I am. Who would have thought eating pretzels and drinking beer could be so slimming? Ah, German comfort food. There's nothing like it on a cold Melbourne winter's night. In fact, on any night of the year!
Pretzels and bier are very slimming. Photo @nadinecresswellmyatt