The Brewery Pub, Istiglaliyyat Street, Baku Tel.: (994 12) 437 2868 www.bakubeer.az
You wouldn’t normally associate a German Beer Keller with Nachos, would you? So I was surprised to find exactly that on Istiglaliyyat Street, right opposite the triangular glass Icheri Sheher metro station one fine Saturday evening. We’d agreed to meet up with one of our friends, a very sociable single Brit male and man about town. He suggested The Brewery as a meeting place and was very enthusiastic about their German cuisine, the sausages, the pork chops. His eyes were glistening with anticipation and he was almost jumping up and down on the spot, his excitement at the thought was tangible. My heart sank. It was 34 degrees Centigrade outside and the thought of sitting in a dark cellar, chomping away on greasy pork was not tempting at all. But I took one look at his happy face and just could not bring myself to deny him. After all, Germany had just won the World Cup, so why not celebrate German style? Still, I had a larger lunch than normal that day, believing that I would probably pass on food in the beer cellar.
After a hot and somewhat sticky walk uphill we arrived at the appointed time and it was quite a relief to step out of the heat and into the dark and cool cavern that is The Brewery. Tiled floors, dark furniture and very typically traditional German decoration, partly bordering on kitsch with carved wooden peasant figures, greet you there, quite Hansel and Gretel ish. I have been to countless similar old fashioned and cosy looking taverns all over Germany and that’s exactly what they look like. The female staff, a rarity in itself in Baku, even sport plaits though surprisingly, no dirndls! Mercifully, there was no loud oompahpah music, a pianist was playing some gentle lounge music in the background.
Apart from high performance cars, football, philosophers, scientists and classical music, Germany is, of course, famous for its beer, so the men weren’t slow in ordering their half liters. This is Baku’s only micro brewery and the beer here is brewed on site with equipment and ingredients imported from Germany. It comes as light, medium and dark and I’m told that it tastes very good indeed. I, on the other hand, prefer a glass of white wine and was offered the choice of ‘local, Chardonnay or French’. Since I am very much an ABC (anything but Chardonnay) kind of woman and the local wine has been giving me headaches, I ordered the ‘French’ which turned out to be a nice Chablis , cool and crisp. It went down very well too. After the second round of drinks, hunger struck, not enough for a full meal but just for a little something to pick at while we were chatting and drinking. The menu is wide ranging with many German and Czech specialities but also all those usual popular International dishes that everyone likes. We were still not in the mood for sauerkraut and pork knuckle, so quite incongruously in that environment, we ordered vegetable and prawn spring rolls and a plate of nachos without too much expectation, I must admit. I found both absolutely excellent, the nachos especially, crispy corn chips with enough but not too much cheese and crunchy, hot green chilli slices. There was extra cheese, sour cream and salsa in little bowls on the side. So good were they, that we ordered a second portion which disappeared as fast as the first.
Service was very friendly and smiley and our waitress had a good command of English. When I was initially served Chardonnay by mistake, it was immediately removed apologetically without complaint and replaced by the Chablis. We paid AZN68 for four half liter beers, two generous glasses of wine, a portion of spring rolls and two portions of nachos. Surprisingly, The Brewery was almost empty during our two or so hours there but this may be due to the fact that it was holiday time and Ramadan when we went or perhaps because the cavernous and cosily dark premises were not a natural choice for a hot summer’s day. Still, we had a very congenial time there and we’ll be sure to go back. Prost!