#AD – Press Trip

It’s Tuesday in Manchester. I’m dancing on a table. Glitter in my hair, my beard. Glitter on my t-shirt. There is a band on stage. I think they’re playing I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor, and if they are they’re right, I do. Shots of schnapps. Schnapps on skis, twenty at a time. I’m allowed to be on the table, I think. There was cabaret before the band. Risqué cabaret, the type that made me blush the colour of raspberry schnapps. Burlesque with boobies emblazed with glitter, and drag queens, tucked, untucked, some with the kind of hair on your chest my Dad says you get from drinking bitter, and others imac’d to an inch of their, err, you know. One gave me their hat whilst singing something by Christina Aguilera. I no longer have the hat. We do have more shots of schnapps. Everyone is on the table now. Everyone. It’s Tuesday. This doesn’t happen on Tuesdays where I’m from. I’m schloss’d, quite literally.

I’ve just about recovered. Almost. Nearly. Possibly. A press trip to Manchester to Albert’s Schloss to see what Birmingham is getting, and the answer to that being a double handful of naughtiness. It’s a seven day a week party train, the kind where you wake in a different city and have the vaguest memory of what happened. Of schnapps. And glitter. There are Haus bands and local bands, dualling pianos playing requests, and DJ’s taking you through their favourite vinyl. Life is a cabaret my friend, and this is a wunderbar life. Glasses clink with pilsner so fresh it doesn’t need to be pasteurised. Cocktails and highballs, and have I mentioned the schnapps? Everyone is enjoying themselves. Everyone.


And the food. It would be easy to have as an afterthought, but no, it’s really really good. Moreish pretzel chips with something called bier cheese, and complete, twisted pretzels with mustard and pickles. Making their way down our table are kebabs and bratwurst, and I think I saw a Caesar salad. We have the pork knuckle, a huge caveman piece of meat; bone protruding, skin golden, crisp, and crackable. Enough meat for two, maybe three. The meat is soft and delicate: a feat of processes that likely involve steam followed by a high dry heat. There is braised cabbage that speaks of time and patience, and a killer gravy. There is apple sauce. It’s the dish for those who complain about portion sizes and moan that Sunday roasts aren’t a weekday thing. There is schnitzel that fills the plate with a beach-like golden sheen of breadcrumb, with a parmesan mayo for an umami quality, and salsa verde to give it sprite. It’s an impeccable version. We didn’t need the parmesan fries or the truffle mash in hindsight, but I’ll order the mash again and again. Real truffle, melted cheese. It’s the real deal. Baked Alaska is textbook with a marshmellowy Swiss meringue and raspberry sorbet. We struggle to finish it. You can eat an awful lot here for about £25 a head. 

My experience of Schloss prior to this was looking at the queues on my trips to Manchester and deciding that queuing to get into anywhere wasn’t for me. Now I get it. I’m in. Sign me up for the drag queens and the jazz and the Sunday sessions and the Monday hangovers at work. Give me that pork knuckle and the truffled mash and the Baked Alaska. There is something wunderfully joyous about a venue that is built around those inside having the best possible time. I can’t wait for them to come to Birmingham. I’m going to say something I never thought possible: a seven-day-a-week German-themed pleasure palace is precisely what this city needs.