I am not sure the vast Bierschenke bierkeller in Covent Garden is successful, even if it is skilful: I worry it is the wrong place for it. People go to Covent Garden to buy gym clothes, watch musical theatre and pick up men, not to find Wagner and pigs and the drumbeat of the earth: Covent Garden is more Kit Kat Club than Twilight of the Gods with sausage. I am not saying you must be into Götterdämmerung to enjoy this restaurant. It just helps.
It used to be in the City of London, and that worked. City men are savages, mining for gold: they would absolutely kill a pig. That is what beer halls are, base: wheat, fat, sweat. But the City site was redeveloped, and a big cellar off Seven Dials on Earlham Street came up – it was the Belgian restaurant Belgo, which always made me think of mayonnaise, and it closed during the pandemic, so it always will – and here it is.
I know two beer halls: that one in Munich, to use Daily Mail insinuation-speak for the location of a putsch, and that one in Munich in Claude Lanzmann’s documentary Shoah, in which Lanzmann traps an SS officer who looks like Hugo Weaving behind the bar where he is pulling beer and faffing about with glasses. Lanzmann tries to interview him about beer because he won’t talk about the Shoah: who would? Another waiter with kind eyes counsels the genocidal Hugo Weaving impersonator to talk to Lanzmann about beer, because he obviously hates him. This is the only very funny bit in Shoah, and you should watch it. It’s free in Poland for obvious reasons, but you can get it on Amazon Prime.
We are met at the entrance by a young woman in a dirndl.