Essen is one of those restaurants that hide in plain sight – countless people must go past this busy strip of Broadway every day on buses and not notice this spacious yet homely German restaurant just a block away from The Abercrombie. They serve up hearty fare with plenty of different kinds of beer (naturally) to transport the essence of German cuisine to the heart of Sydney.
We are taken aback by the roominess of the wooden interior once we step inside and are lucky we came early on a Friday night because we nabbed the last non-reserved table. There’s quite an extensive drinks menu to choose from and many variations of schnitzel with different sauces as their specialty.
For starters, I made a beeline for the Knobli Brot which is Swiss garlic bread with paprika and melted gruyere cheese. Unfortunately, although the flavours were interesting, the overall taste failed to live up to my expectations of it based on its delicious sounding description in the menu.
Knobli brot, $5
I washed down the soft bread with a Radler, which is 2/3 beer and 1/3 lemonade and a great option for those who aren’t the biggest fans of the taste of beer but still want to make the most of the German experience here. There’s also fruit flavoured beers like the mango one I was eyeing up as a potential.
It’s a while before the mains are served but the wait primed us for the large servings we were presented with. The crumbed veal schnitzel which I got was massive, though slightly dry despite the tomato based “Gypsy” sauce. On the upside, the roesti (fried grated potato) which comes with it was rather addictive, since I can never resist potato based foods.
Gypsy Schnitzel, $22.50
The boys went with the more fancy sounding mains on the menu – the Schweinebauch crispy pork belly was a glorious slab of perfectly cooked salty meat with plenty of crackling. It was quite a generous portion for one person, especially with the sides of roesti and sauerkraut which accompanied it.
Schweinebauch crispy pork belly, $27.50
The other main was the Ente farm fresh duck, oven roasted overnight and served with red wine poached pear and roesti potato too. It was tenderly cooked and still quite juicy, going very well with the roesti which soaked up the flavours nicely.
Ente duck, $29.50
It is clear that Essen serves up hearty fare that is perfect for cooler weather because it is so filling, but even after all the mains we were still able to fit in some desserts. We devoured the chocolate brownie with vanilla ice cream, which came with a delectable warm chocolate sauce that elevated an otherwise unremarkable brownie.
Chocolate brownie, $10
Then we somehow managed to fit in a traditional apple and pear strudel with vanilla sauce and ice cream, which had a lovely buttery pastry encasing the soft baked fruits.
Apple and pear strudel, $10
As you can imagine, all 3 of us were fully stuffed by the end of this epic German feast. It’s appropriate that this restaurant is named for the German word for “eat” because that’s all we did for 2.5 straight hours. I’d recommend it for groups of friends catching up because it has a great atmosphere and lots of choice for food and drink to keep you going, but definitely book a table in advance.
Essen Restaurant & Beer Cafe
Sydney NSW 2000
Phone: (02) 9211 3805