(Updated May 2015) Situated on the ground floor of HillV2 and just next to Dean & Deluca, Starker Fresh Beer faces the main access from the road and should have good pedestrian traffic. Update – fortunately, construction work in front of Starker has completed and the hoardings put up to protect passers-by have been removed. You can have a clear view of the restaurant now. It may also give the impression that the hoardings are part of ongoing renovations at this pub restaurant. We decided to try out this place on a quiet weekday evening.
Contrary to what you may be thinking, the name of the restaurant, “Starker”, actually means ‘stronger’ in German. The main attraction of this place is obviously the beer which is said to be brewed according to old world German traditions. It is therefore no surprise that the decor of the restaurant is almost spartan, serious and masculine. Bare brick finish is featured on the walls of this large outlet. The high ceiling gives the place a very spacious look. We are reminded of the German brauhaus atmosphere. All this place needs is a good brass band to make it complete. This would be a superb location for Oktoberfest festivities. The place is big and can easily fit more than 100 ordinary patrons with the potential to spill out onto the patio space outside (once the hoardings are removed). But on this quiet evening, the large space could do with more warm bodies. Apart from us, we there were only two other tables with diners.
The menu was more extensive than we had thought, with good varieties of pasta, pizza and meat dishes. Pork knuckle ($38.80) and sauerkraut is on the menu as well as baby back ribs ($19.80 for half slab) and fish and chips ($16.80). There is of course the usual pub food section with the ubiquitous chicken wings (served in three flavours), fries etc.
We ordered the lamb shank ($26.80), margherita pizza ($7.80), classic chicken wings ($9.80) and the dark beer ($11.90 per pint). Other than the chicken wings which were very ordinary and small, the other items were all very good. The lamb shank was really well cooked and we could easily peel the meat off the bone. It also had the right amount of gaminess. The margherita pizza was simply made but was very tasty and made with cheese that can be stretched endlessly and which made for entertaining but inelegant dining.
And of course there is the beer. We can’t give enough superlatives about the beer. It was fresh, fruity and with no bitter taste and not “stark” at all. The happy hour price of $11.90 per pint was reasonable. The mug that it came in was cold and frosty. Halfway through the meal they transferred our beer into a fresh cold mug out of the freezer. Perhaps that is a benefit when the restaurant is not so crowded.
Update: We returned to Starker in Jan 2015 and the place is now humming along with a good crowd on some evenings. Maybe the all night happy hour is working! We suggest the Aromatic and the Dunkel. The Aromatic is very light and fruity for effortless drinking. The Dunkel will go well with the stronger flavoured dishes like the lamb shank or the baby back ribs.