Steins (what's the Wurst that could happen)

The skies over London have been quiet and free of emission trails for a few days now. Berlin was the weekend destination for Captain Engish and Hadedar but short of braving trains, ferries and buses they had no alternative but to concede to the volcanic ash cloud and recreate the German experience in London.

Saturday morning, the sun was shining and I one foot in the doghouse following a later than planned Friday night. The text came suggesting Katzenjammers and as much as I felt like sitting in a windowless cellar having hair of the dog (possible its entire back), a walk in the park was the order of the day. Late afternoon and an update. Common sense has prevailed (also known as Hadedar) and the trip to the cellar has been shelved in favour of Zeitgeist. The text simply read "In Zeitgeist, eating curry wurst and chips". At this point although the park and the Vitamin D had done me a world of good the thought of curry wurst was appealing, not to mention the prospect of a pint of Paulaner. I wouldn't have to wait too long as a further text suggested a Sunday afternoon at Steins in Richmond.  The prospect of an afternoon by the river and a few beers was a promising one.

Set off the towpath close to Richmond Bridge, Steins offers a Bavarian al fresco experience, serving traditional dishes and beer by the pint and stein. All seating is outdoors, the only indoors being a wood cabin housing the kitchen and the toilets.

As I arrive I find a English and Hadedar have found a table and guarding the extra place. I am handed a menu and told to take my place in the queue, order my food and beer, pay, collect my beer at a seperate queue and that the meal will be delivered to the table. The queue moves at a crawl with one person operating the till; slowly. What happened to German efficiency, or is that just a lazy stereotype?

Mission accomplished and stein of Paulaner Munchner in hand I return to the table, weaving through buggies and tightly pack tables. Within minutes my food arrives. Perhaps the system does work. The sausage is tasty as are the spicy potatoes (albeit over seasoned). There is an absence of sauerkraut which was part of the description and in its place a limp salad. I consider asking for it be added but expecting that there would be a queue for this I finish my meal and head to the bar for another Paulaner Munchner; ensuring my food receipt is at the ready. No beer is served without having ordered food, perhaps due to licence or to keep firmly focus on the family market.

On a warm day by the river in Richmond you cannot fail to have an enjoyable experience but still Steins didn't quite live up to the promise.  Ideal for families, the owners target market it benefits from not being overrun by loud groups interested only in drinking as many steins as possible, but could deliver more in terms of the food and the experience. For me it needs to be less works canteen and deliver more on its prime riverside spot. That said it was busy and doubtless will continue to be so. In short, enjoyable, not a destination in itself but they're are wurst places to spend a day by the river (sorry couldn't resist).

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