Address: 19 Villiers Street, WC2N 6NE
Area: Charing Cross
Nearest Station: Embankment/Charing Cross
Good For: Casual dining, Takeaway, Filling meal, Sinful snacks
It’s been a month since I was in Munich, on a holiday between projects. Whenever I told anyone of my plans, I was asked whether I was going to gorge myself on sausages and beer, and I would reply enthusiastically in the affirmative (if I said I was going to a party to gorge on sausage and beer, that would sound horrifically dodgy – ooh err).
Now it may surprise many people, but I only had sausage twice those four days in Munich – weiβwurst for a rather sluggish and hungover breakfast on the Sunday, and a currywurst snack during a daytrip to Schloss Neuschwanstein. Rather, I came to appreciate the other regional dishes, such as roast pork knuckle, obazda, leberkäse and, rather surprisingly, white asparagus.
And, instead of plying myself silly with litre steins of Münchener weiβbier (I did have some, mind), I instead discovered a strong liking for the sweet, cool, refreshing taste of the radler and the russ’n, aka the shandy.
But that’s all for another day. Now that I am back in London, I find myself dreaming of big, fat, juicy German sausages (oooh errr), and bitterly regretting that the drei paar of weiβwurst I brought home with me lasted only three days. And so, where would I go to, in order to fix this absolutely wurst problem?
Enter Herman ze German from stage right. Anyone wandering along that crammed stretch of Villiers Street between Embankment and Charing Cross stations is bound to have seen this place, and thought to themselves, “Hmm, I hope that Herman has good sausage” (ooooh errrr). The fact that it is almost opposite one of the exits from Charing Cross has meant that I, and I’m sure countless others, have popped across the road to grab a meaty snack as we waited for our trains home.
And now, actually having been to Germany, I can come to Herman for my fix of all things German: the place screams over-the-top Germaness, specifically of the Bavarian Alpine lodge variety. However, as my Bavarian friend did point out, our perception of Germaness is… rather narrow-minded, let’s just say. But then again, there are loads of pictures of her wearing a dirndl, eating bratwurst and drinking weiβbier out of litre steins, so why should Herman disappoint us by not offering these?
Okay, there is a distinct lack of girls in dirndls and guys in lederhosen, and I don’t think they sell beer any more (*sob*), but there is wurst.
They will leave you feeling satisfied and all filled up. They are well-cooked, juicy and have great flavours. The old classic bratwurst is a favourite. But the first time I was here, I had the currywurst. They overloaded mine with spice, which made it difficult to finish off without a cooling beer. The sauce is perhaps too ketchup-y for my liking, but it has a strong and distinct tang about it. I like the fried onions that you can request to sprinkle on your sausage, and the sauerkraut is up to the job too – some crunch and texture, and not packing too much sourness.
However, I would recommend going for something a little different from the average wurst – the leberkäse. This translates, literally, as liver cheese. Before you vomit at the thought of that, hear me out. It is, roughly-speaking, a sausage meatloaf, and so has nearly (but not quite) the same taste and texture as the bratwurst on offer. Herman’s example is a pretty good one, and they have been quite generous with their portions, cutting their under-used loaf into hefty slices for your enjoyment and smothering them in punchy mustard.
As for the all-important fries that accompany this cornucopia of sausage meat – they are thin, crisp, and delightful when dipped in either curry sauce or mayonnaise.
So, the next time you find yourself at a loose end whilst waiting for your train in Charing Cross, why not pop out, cross the road, and enter a little haven of Germany?
VERDICT – A good place. Portions are hearty, prices are good, flavours are tasty; it is simple food done well. Sometimes, all you need in life is meat, bread and potatoes. ‘Nuff said.
Currently listening to: Circa Survive – Dyed in the Wool