Many suggest Germans don’t have a sense of humour but the other night I passed by a shop called “Herman Ze German” in London’s Villers Street at the side of Charing Cross station and saw the strapline “Our Wurst is ze best” and just creased up with laughter. Intrigued I looked at the menu and was drawn inside. The ambiance was really excellent with nice bench style tables, their own selection of soft drinks and humorous signs throughout. But what really keeps you there is the sizzling sound from the open kitchen and the lovely odours from authentic artisan sausages served with great sides and an authentic well thought out presentation.
German food can be a hard sell outside Germany: Stuffed Pork Belly, Blood Sausage, Roast Horse and Eisbein, a pickled pigs trotter. It sounds all, well very Germanic! Unfortunately here in Britain we tend to notice German food at events when there is a somewhat unauthentic “German sausage” stall manned by East Enders or at overpriced Xmas Markets which hardly do German Cuisine justice. Herman Ze German, on this sighting at least, is different and is Ze Real Deal! The business started when Azadeh Falakshahi und Florian Frey asked themselves the question “Where can I get a real German sausage in London?” Having grown up in the Black Forest with an abundance of great wurst, they began importing homemade sausages from their trusted family butcher to sell in their local pub in Brighton. Fast-forward six years and after countless festivals, events, a comedy takeover staring funny-man Alan Carr and ze World Cup victory, they now share their passions with three to permanent homes in London – as well as Villiers Street, they are in Soho and Fitzrovia.
Herman Ze German also makes a pretty great attempt at serving German food that is as authentic as the British punter will have it. A relatively simple menu means that it’s easy to navigate whilst understanding what you are actually ordering. There’s no table service here, so just walk up to the counter and your food is brought to the table. The sausages are imported from the Schwarzwald, and are sehr gut: high-quality pork (no ‘mystery meat’ here), juicy, springy middles and a proper ‘knack’ when you bite. More bonus points for serving them in proper bread rolls (as opposed to a US soft finger bun) – at HzG, you’ll get chewy baguettes.
The currywurst is the highlight at Herman Ze German, and is fully customizable with regards to the sausage you decide on and how spicy a sauce you want with it. I opted for the Bock wurst special and it was more than good. Called Ze Wilde Bock Roll it comes with a perfectly cooked large sausage, curry sauce, crispy onions, mayo and a handful of chips, all very nicely presented. The Bockwurst is one of three sausages available, along with a Bratwurst and Chilli Beef. The Bockwurst was similar to a frankfurter and had that pungent satisfying taste I remember in Germany. A great addition is the fact that the pommes are baked, not fried, and well-seasoned still ensuring a crispy outside whilst being that much healthier. Even the sausages are gluten free.
To accompany Herman offers German Beers and their own range of “proper” soft drinks including a rather excellent Cola which is far better than the American imitation. There are great sides, Wurst and salad as well as chicken and pork schnitzel. I’ll be back soon to HZG for the Schnitzel, what’s not to like? As well as the good atmosphere the staff are great, friendly and engaging. Indeed when I asked if I could take a photo the guy said “give us a minute to tidy the counter, I want the place looking at its best!” Top Man, top sausage. Indeed the place was lively and busting with financial Journalist Martin Lewis and a party from MoneySavingExpert.com who were going onto Gordon’s wine bar down the road – proof positive that Herman Ze German is good value. As Herman says himself “De Wurst is ze best!”
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