Photo by David Ghione
Not long ago, you could buy a fridge here. The massive East German box housing the new Hofbräuhaus used to be an Innova. Apparently meat and beer are more profitable than home appliances.
Munich brewery of lore, Hofbräuhaus has set up a super-sized beer hall a few metres from Alexanderplatz. As soon as you begin the Hofbräu Berlin experience, you realise this is more authentically trashy than that burger emporium White Trash Fast Food, meaning this is where actual local white trash dine.
The cavernous dimensions of the rock 'n' roll TGIF-style party cave on Schönhauser Allee is dwarfed by the Bavarian import, big enough to house and feed 3000 guests according to the skinny, multi-pierced waiter who seemed to be laughing in disbelief at his own lederhosen.
As a fake Bavarian he fits well into this monster-restaurant with fake arches, fake wood panelling and incomprehensible Bavarian beer-drinking platitudes in gothic script on the walls.
On a central stage, a muleted sax-synth duo pump out tinny Oktoberfest evergreens, interspersed with the famed song interlude "Ein prosit, ein prosit, der Gemütlichkeit."
This is one of those places where that Gemütlichkeit doesn't always translate as 'cosy'. Imagining the amount of beer and meat that passes through the bowels of the guests truly boggles the mind.
The Hofbräuhaus seems to be doing well just a few months after opening: huge groups of Berliners still come for the novelty factor, big gangs of men lured by litre mugs of Helles and Dunkles. Young American males doing Europe, puking in the toilets.
Apart from the bizarre atmosphere, put simply, the beer is good, while the food is nothing to write home about - the usual German variations on pork, dumplings and potatoes.
We recommend the Weißwürste special - two plump, boiled, pale sausages, a pretzel and sweet mustard and a half litre of beer - not a bad deal at all for €5.10.
And by the way, we had to really grovel for a free tap water - here the other White Trash is one step ahead!