Posted by KB on October 21, 2011
It’s no secret that Sydney’s pub food has taken a distinct turn towards the Americas. It’s now a pretty rare thing that you don’t have the option of some kind of taco, hot dog or bite-sized burger to go with your beer. And while we’re massive fans of the fresh flavours (and pulled pork) on offer, we decided to re-explore the world of the original beer-drinking food: German.
We figured you can’t go too far wrong with a restaurant that means ‘eat’ in German, so we headed off to Essen on Broadway. You may know it as the place that used to be Una’s. It still has a connection to the old place by way of owner and executive chef Geert Elzinga, previously an owner at Una’s, who has moved the focus away from the simple schnitzel and expanded on the hearty European theme.
With that in mind it was hard to go past the sausage platter as a starter (though the deep fried camembert came a close second). It’s three kinds of sausage (leberwurst, csabai and a herby weissurst), a hot pretzel, potato salad and pickled vegetables. The pickles were an especially nice touch. They’re made in-house, and can be seen in large glass jars on the bar in the back room – it’s good to know where your food comes from, almost like seeing free-range meat on a farm.
Beer, of course, is a must. The food goes well with beer and the beer goes well with food. It’s like the circle of life. We opt for the Dreher Bak strong dark beer and a lighter Franziskaner Hefe, both served in suitably hefty 500ml steins.
Speaking of musts: if you’re a fan of that magical animal, order the pork belly. What arrived was the largest piece we’d ever seen - with no skimping on the crackling either – accompanied by traditional sauerkraut and bread dumplings. But the dish that sets Essen apart from your regular schnitzel house is the duck (pictured above). It’s wonderfully crispy from an overnight roasting, served with tangy red cabbage, potato and a marzipan-stuffed baked apple. And it looks just like the photo.
Unfortunately, there was no room for dessert. But our sources (and some timely eavesdropping on our diners at the next table) tell us the strudel is a hit.
Essen Restaurant and Beer Cafe is at 133-135 Broadway, Ultimo. Ph: 02 9211 3805.