’Tis the season to be jolly. Well, that applies to all seasons at Albert’s Schloss.  Seamlessly this self-styled ‘Bohemian bier palace, cook haus and bakery’ segues from its Summerhaus cocktail celebration into ‘Winter Wunderland’ (with an obvious bow to Oktoberfest factored in).

On my recent visit the management/marketing team were in the Haus, thrashing out their high jinks plans for New Year’s Eve – cocktails, burlesque, cabaret, lashings of what their Teutonic role models call Gemütlichkeit. Käserei (cheesiness)? Ein bisschen. But who cares when the formula works so well?

At the 2021 Manchester Food and Drink Awards the public voted it Bar of the Year. Evenings it can get louche and loud. The lunchtime we drop by it’s very much in family and dog-friendly mode. Our own chihuahua in tow, I just avoid tripping over a more appropriate brace of Dachshunds.

Oodles of cheese actually features in the new Winter Wunderland menu. ‘Alpine-inspired’ gives them carte blanche (the only time we’re allowing French) to roam into Northern Italy, Austria and the rest of Central Europe. Alpine wines get their own little ‘peak’ symbol on the list.

If we’d gone for a sharing fondue I’m sure we would have ordered the Roussette de Savoie white but, with a ‘climb every mountain’ of meat sliding our way, go instead for a silky and fruity Brufaser Pinot Noir (£34) from Trento in the Dolomites. After a comforting pint of Munich’s finest, Paulaner, to get us in the mood for the ‘Bavarian Feast’ challenge.

This seems a way to sample a range of the menu, avoiding fish and chip, burgers, kebabs and croquettes that have been spuriously Germanified. Pretzels in a fish pie? Now that is innovation.

So is this £65 Alpine real deal enough for four? In our case it was three (including small hound) so we ended up carrying home a doggie bag rather than risk bursting out of our metaphorical Lederhosen.

Here we go… Schweinshaxe (roast pork knuckle) chicken schnitzel, bratwurst, smoked pork kaiserwurst, ribs, sformato, braised red cabbage, seasonal greens, bier jus, Schloss sauerkraut, pickles and that moreish monosyllabic mustard called Senf.

I’m addicted to the Schloss take on sformato. Here it’s baked truffle mash rather than the dense soufflé come flan you might find in (non-Alpine) Tuscany. Whatever, it’s perfect stodge as ballast for the shards of pork pulled from the chunky knuckle, beer gravy, red cabbage and apple sauce. And the tasty hybrid that is the Black Forest spiced chilli ribs.

The surprisingly delicate house sauerkraut was the obvious partner for the bratwurst, and kaiserwurst that I assume are bought in. Or is that the Wurst case scenario? (Couldn’t resist that pun.)

It’s almost de rigueur (sorry French again) at a Bohemian fun palace that includes among its frolichs (sic) The Kunst Cabaret. But that’s for the weekend, when the seasonal cocktail and artisan schnapps list comes into its own. The Black Cherry Kaiser (Monkey 47 gin, Sangue Morlacco, Cocchi vermouth di Torino, black cherry purée, aquafaba and lemon juice) has got my name on it. Prost!

Albert’s Schloss, 27 Peter Street, Manchester, M2 5QR.

The new menu is available Monday-Saturday, 12pm-10pm.

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