Essen.

We’re big fans of the heartiness of German, Austrian and Eastern European food. It’s not a big thing in Canberra: the Austrian Club is rather inscrutable about membership, while the Harmonie German Club has an unfortunate tendency to poison its diners. We can often be found at the touristy but pretty good Löwenbraukeller at the Rocks, but it wasn’t in the cards this trip.

We’d planned to hit Na Zdrowie, the Polish joint on Glebe Point Road. Unfortunately they didn’t have room for us. So we walked around for a while and came back to Essen in Ultimo, where we’d eaten previously.

Essen has the Urban Bierhall vibe down pat. Stone walls, wood-paneled ceilings, long communal tables, and chairs with cute folk-art designs painted on them. The waitresses are friendly and mostly German.

The muggy humidity of this particular Sydney day lent itself well to wheat beer’s refreshing qualities. So we ordered a litre of it.

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On the left, a Fransiskaner cut with mango juice, which is not nearly as weird as you’d think, and twice as delicious. On the right, a Schöfferhofer Kristall, tangy and banana-reminiscent with superior humidity-killing properties.

After an entrée of  rosy, paprika-flecked garlic bread, it was time for SCHNITZEL.

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One chicken, one pork, liberally doused in green peppercorn sauce. The schnitzels themselves were exemplary: perfectly greaseless and crunchy and tender. The peppercorn sauce was tasty but a little too peppery: in the future I’d order it on the side, because eventually the piquancy overwhelmed my taste buds. The rösti were crispy on the outside and soft, juicy and oniony on the inside. Delightful if perhaps a squish underdone.

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Dessert was a tasty apfelstrudel, garnished with ice cream and a drizzle of custard. I’m not certain if it was made in-house but it did the trick.

Essen is worthy of your attention for excellent beer and food in Ultimo. It is firmly established as one of our favorite Sydney German haunts without the theme-park feel of Löwenbraukeller .
Essen Restaurant & Beer Cafe on Urbanspoon

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4 comments

  1. Sharon

    Too bad your favorite German haunts are halfway around the world from me. But we have a few good places here on the East coast of the US, too. Thanks for sharing!

  2. cabrogal

    Those death caps seem to get a few Chinese immigrants every year.
    Maybe they need to start handing out warnings with the visas.

    I can’t remember the name of the Swiss restaurant that used to be (still is?) on the south side of Parramatta Rd a few blocks west of Norton street that used to sell beautiful rosti in the 70s/early 80s. When I moved nearby about 1985 I was anticipating a regular pig-out there but alas, something had gone wrong (new chef?) and the rosti were greasy, starchy rubbish that I could easily better in my own kitchen. Not only that, Pailin Thai a few blocks east – once one of the best Thais in Sydney – had doubled its prices and lowered its standards to generic Sydney Thai. At least the Argentinian beef restaurant near Pailin was still brilliant.

    Sadly that area around the intersection of Norton St and Parramatta Rd went through a general slump in the 1980s. It was once easily the best area to eat out in Sydney.

    Oh, for the chicken cacciatore I used to get from a tiny upstairs mama and papa run Sicilian restaurant near the Westpac bank – with zabaglione for dessert! Service was abrupt to the point of rudeness, but I sure didn’t care.

  3. tarnishedsophia

    My favorite place to go is the Mountain Brahaus, located near New Paltz, NY. They are the only German restaurant that I’ve found who have more than just a plate of buttered speitzel as a vegetarian option. Which is, of course, why I love them. 🙂

    But did you *really* go to a German restaurant and not sample any beer?

    • Sasha

      But did you *really* go to a German restaurant and not sample any beer?

      I did! There’s a picture of it 😛

      I love käsespätzle, the German version of macaroni and cheese, which is vegetarian (but not vegan obviously).

      New Paltz is a bit out of the way from the parts of New York I usually go to (Manhattan, and Sullivan County) but I fondly remember sledding and ice-skating at the Mohonk Mountain House as a kid. I believe that is in New Paltz.

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