I was introduced to this small casual dining outlet along Upper East Coast Road by my mother, on Easter Sunday. This little German restaurant was Werner’s Oven.
From the exterior, it looked somewhat like a terrace house, painted a bright and welcoming shade of yellow. However, parking was inconvenient as lots were limited. Furthermore, there was an entire row of lots cordoned off for unknown reasons. It is advisable for patrons to park in the public car park in the next lane.
Despite the initial parking annoyance, its interior was beautifully decorated in an unabashed Euro-style. German flag hanging off the walls, various artworks by German artists displayed throughout the restaurant and of course, a German menu. Thank Werner for the scraps of English translation which would have otherwise left me a dumbfound illiterate. I took exceptionally long to figure out what I was ordering because I had to sift out the English from the mixture of languages, which confused me quite a bit.
What intrigued me the most about its quirky decorative elements was the giant beer glass, filled with beer bottle caps, probably collected since the time they opened for business. An avid Mathematician, I could not help but estimate the number of bottle caps, though I had to be physically restrained from counting them individually.
In general, the ambience was cozy and comfortable. It really helped to enhance the spirit of Easter Sunday. I was seated at the corner, with cushioned leather sofas and lamps hanging from the ceiling. No doubt presenting a warm and fuzzy atmosphere, but after a while, the restaurant became a green house and the poorly maintained leather sofas started to make my legs itch. In addition, where I was seated, there was no air conditioning facing us and the low-hanging lamps were radiating a substantial amount of heat to keep me perspiring.
The food, on the other hand, was really delicious. For a party of 5, we ordered a salad and two orders of Werner’s famous pork knuckles and a lamb chop. Each dish comes with 2 side dishes, sauerkraut and mashed potatoes. Werner’s Oven is known for its done-to-perfection pork knuckles and I could not wait to be the judge of that. Waiting time was shorter than expected, roughly 10 to 15 minutes, and I must say, the food was absolutely no let down.
The salad really did its job well as an appetizer. Topped with halved cherry tomatoes and chopped parsley, and drizzled over with thousand island dressing, the salad consisted of lettuce, carrots, cabbage, purple cabbage and more cherry tomatoes. There was a nice balance to the salad as the crunchy greens were complemented by the soft tomatoes; while the sauce brought out the flavour of the fresh vegetables. On the whole, it made a good first impression which left me craving for more.
The pork knuckles were crispy on the outside, and so tender on the inside. The colour of the skin was a beautiful shade of golden brown and the texture… when you bring the knife down onto the knuckle, you can almost hear every single crackle the skin makes and that did not fail to excite my taste buds. The texture of meat on the inside was a real surprise. Because the skin was done to a crisp, I was initially worried that the meat would be tough and dry, but I was wrong. It was such delight to experience three different textures in my mouth, the last one coming from the layer of fat. The crispy top, combined with the tender yet firm inside and the soft layer of fat that defines the two, was probably the best combination I have ever tasted when it came to pork knuckles.
The lamb chop however was so-so. It was yummy, but not spectacular, probably because I am not particularly big on lamb. The meat was soft and tender and the gravy rounded out the taste nicely. However, I thought it would do better with a tinge of mint jelly. Maybe they did carry mint jelly… I should have asked!
And of course, we must not forget the accompanying side dishes. It was my first time tasting sauerkraut. I thought it would just taste sour as name suggests but there was a fine balance of sour and sweet. The taste was refreshing, like a German version of non-spicy ‘achar’. The mashed potato topped with chopped parsley was satisfying as it was neither too oily nor salty, with a really light texture and taste. It went really well with the lamb chop gravy.
The cost of each main course was on average at about $25, which was fairly reasonable, given its superb quality. The service was prompt and of good standard. I liked the fact that Werner’s Oven had two sections – restaurant and café, divided by a wall. An opening in the wall linked the two sides together, however I did not venture into the other side. Perhaps, another time.
All in all, the experience was one that was worth travelling all the way to the East from Central. There are some infrastructural imperfections but regardless, their pork knuckles are a must try and worth every dollar. I recommend for diners to request to bring the pork bones home. They can be used as stock since Werner’s Oven does a fantastic job on the seasoning.
I will definitely visit Werner’s Oven again.