I first encountered Zierholz at the Canberra Small Brewers Festival back in March of this year, however their reputation preceded them before I’d even gotten to taste any of their beers – which is often the case with anything ‘new’ in Canberra. I soon learned that Zierholz produced an impressive range of handcrafted beers from their premises in Fyshwick and had not long ago opened a second location at ‘the Hub’ at the University of Canberra.
The first of Zierholz’s two venues (Fyshwick) is located in a retail and light industrial suburb – perhaps not ideal for a restaurant but they seem to drum up plenty of business nevertheless. As well as being a restaurant/bar, the building also houses their brewery, which can be viewed through a window in the restaurant.
I was there mid-afternoon one Friday when they were probably just reaching the end of their lunch service and I was starving – so the following may incur some bias.
The menu is fantastic with hearty German fare as well as the usual suspects i.e. chicken parmy, steak sandwich. As for the service, no sooner had we ordered than our plates appeared before us. The couple of lads at the bar were similarly efficient [insert German racial slur here] and more than happy to answer any of my questions and even better, exchange one of their regular beers for a seasonal on my tasting paddles.
As for the venue itself, I couldn’t help but feel it could be so much more. Overall it lacked atmosphere and perhaps that’s a necessary by-product of its very un-idyllic location. Perhaps the interior design could have even used its semi-industrial setting as inspiration. In any event it had the feel of some kind of pop-up restaurant where not much thought had been put towards its set-up or overall feel.
Zierholz’s second venue (Zierholz@UC) is overall quite different. Aber natuerlich! It caters to a different crowd and, while the first venue emphasised the restaurant aspect, Zierholz@UC is more a bar and local hangout for its education-getting population where it also happens you can get food.
As it turns out I was there for a trivia night and the place was jam-packed, both with trivia goers and what I assume were its regular Wednesday crowd. We were fed nibblies between question rounds, all of which were delicious and of decent quality, and (for the uni students) filling enough that you could skip dinner. The regular menu still has some German favourites but the majority of the dishes are your regular pub grub. There’s also a pizza oven.
The space is quite large, includes a stage, and can be fitted out for any number of different occasions. The venue also regularly showcases Australian music talent (last night it was Midnight Juggernauts). It’s best to keep in mind that it’s a uni bar though so if it’s a quiet evening or beer tasting that you’re after I’d certainly recommend the Fyshwick location.
I enjoyed my time at each venue, there are pros and cons for each, and it really depends what you’re after as to which one you’d choose. Though you can bet on getting good beer and delicious fare at each.
- Locality: Canberra, ACT
- Type: Fyshwick – Restaurant/Bar; UC – Bar/Function Venue
- Rating: Fyshwick – 1 / 2 selection + 1 / 1 food + 0.5 / 2 ambiance = 2.5 / 5; UC – 1 / 2 selection + 1 / 1 food + 1 / 2 ambience = 3 / 5
- Interior Design: Fyshwick – wooden, homestead furnishings though not much has been done to disguise its semi-industrial setting, inside or out; UC – Cosy, nice branding on the bar fitout, very uni bar-esque, good-sized outdoor area.
- Likelihood of making a spectacle of yourself: Fyshwick – not a chance; UC – likely especially if you’re an old chap like me, and there’s a dancefloor.
- Plus: Hearty German or pub fare at decent prices in both locations.
- Minus: Both venues need to work on their interior design as it seems a bit half-arsed in each.