Eating challenges are always good fun, but definitely not for the faint hearted. Today we are visiting Essen to check out the hype around their latest challenge aptly named “Jurassic Pork”, and getting a sampler of this monstrous beast.
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.
Switzerland – the country of cows, alps, Nestle and more food adventures. I discovered recently that cheese fondue is in fact Swiss food and not French (excuse our previous mistake from Au Village Restaurant, Val Thorens), and so I needed to try cheese fondue here.
Towards the back end of the Old Town is Le Dezaley, a restaurant claiming to have some of the best cheese fondue in Zurich. The restaurant is quite large and occupies two spaces on a steep slope near the water and a church. Inside it is wooden and beautifully decorated, giving it a rustic feel with a modern touch. There are still some Christmas decorations remaining which lends some festive spirit to the place.
After a brief glance at the menu, I’d like to make a note to all those who want to come to Switzerland to dine. The Swiss Franc is an extremely strong dollar and the cost of living here is very high (more so than Sweden). Food is expensive and mains at your average local restaurant range from CHF 20-40, so be warned that eating well here will cost a lot!
Cheese Fondue with family recipe (includes bread basket) – CHF$28.50
The first dish which comes out is the cheese fondue. After remembering the dish from Au Village Restaurant, I was extremely excited to eat this dish again. However, when dipping the bread into the cheese and eating it, there was an extremely strong wine flavour. I found this ruined the cheese flavour as after a while my mouth just tasted like wine with little to no cheese flavour at all. After enquiring with the waiter, we were informed that there was a glass of white wine added and that this is how the Swiss prepare their cheese fondues. Quite unfortunate really, but I much prefer how the French cook cheese fondue where I can actually taste the cheese.
Fried sausage Vaudois with Rosti – CHF$27
Following this was our meat dish. It come out on two plates and as our waiter told us, the servings for this dish was particularly large hence the need for two plates. What value! The sausage was grilled nicely and was still tender on the inside and the potato similarly crunchy outside, soft inside. The onions seemed to have an alcoholish flavour when eaten separately but it was not as apparent when eaten with the sausage.
Overall, I don’t think I am a huge fan of traditional Swiss food. Given than the Swiss is a mix of French and German cultures, I much prefer having food from those two cultures separately rather than having Swiss food. I know that if I return, it will be more for their beautiful alps and countrysides and not so much for the cuisine.
Romergasse 7+9 8001
Zurich beim Grossmunster
Ph: 044 251 61 29
When I think of Germany, several things come to mind. Besides bratwursts, currywursts and sauerkraut, there’s also Oktoberfest and beer. My trip to Germany could not be complete without a couple visits to some beer houses in Munich, the home of Oktoberfest.
Today I visit two, one for lunch and another for dinner. The first is the Hofbrauhaus, located in Marienplatz (the city centre). It is Christmas day and the place is packed full of local families and the odd tourist group. The hall is decorated with painted ceilings and large lamps overhanging the canteen style tables. There is not much hint of Christmas here other than a wreath at each window; there is still a great festive atmosphere however with a brass band playing in the centre and a group of German patrons breaking into song.
The custom at beer houses is that you seat yourself anywhere and a waiter serves you (and somehow remembers the split in patrons for bills, impressive). We sit at a relatively empty table before being joined by a Berlin family down here for holidays.
Munich-style sauerbraten (marinated pot roast) of Bavarian beef, with a bread dumpling and cranberries – €9.90
Our first dish which comes out is a beef pot roast. The presentation is plain and simple, as is the affordable price tag. Upon cutting the beef, it feels extremely soft and when eaten, basically melts in your mouth. The gravy has a sweet flavour and goes nicely with the beef; for some additional juiciness and sweetness, the cranberry chutney does a good job. The bread dumpling is something new and interesting. It is thick and similar to potato in texture and goes well as a carb filler with the gravy. Overall an excellent dish!
Original HB Brewer’s pork steak with stewed onions and baked potatoes au gratin – €8.90
The next dish is the pork steak. Here, the gravy is more meaty and onion flavoured but goes well with the tender pork. The onions are soft and sauteed, leaving juices across the dish. The potato gratin is also layered and cooked well.
Radler (beer with lemonade, 1L) – €7.30
Personally, I’m not a beer person and neither is my eating companion so we opt for a non-pure beer for less beer-ish flavours. A Radler is beer with lemonade and it is very light and very refreshing. When drinking it, it still tastes like beer (and it looks like one too), however there are lemony after tastes which makes it more enjoyable for those who are not the biggest fans of beer.
Overall the service here is average but then again, this particular hall is very busy with a great atmosphere. Conveniently located, if you’re looking for an affordable meal near the city centre, this is the place to go.
The next place we go to is Augustiner Keller, another beer house for dinner. Located near Hackerbrucke (a couple train stops from the city centre), the area seems like a corporate district. The PwC building is a block away and I can guess where they come for friday drinks!
Smaller than the Hofbrauhaus, it is not as busy or bustling (probably due to its location). However, it is still a big hall with tables set like a canteen hall. The ceiling and walls are adorned with historic and religious symbols. Upon a quick glance at the menu, the prices are more expensive than the previous one (some are more than double for mains). Thankfully the service we get throughout the night is excellent; the staff are attentive to all our needs and understanding that we do not speak German. The food also comes out extremely quickly, with service arrive approximately within 5 minutes of ordering.
Roast pork with dark beer gravy, potato dumpling and red cabbage – €11.90
Our first dish is the roast pork which is soft and melts in your mouth (seriously, Germans can cook some mean meat here!). The gravy is slightly bitter here with a beer aftertaste and is full of flavour, complimenting the pork very well. Contrary to my belief, a potato dumpling here is NOT gnocchi, but instead is literally a ball of potato. I’m not sure what else is in it, but it has a very bouncy and chewy consistency and doesn’t taste too much like potato. The red cabbage is served separately in a bowl and is warm and soggy with a strong tomato taste. A different take on cabbage, I quite like this version but it is best eaten in small portions otherwise the flavours get a bit strong.
Bread crumbed schnitzel of vealsaddle with roast potatoes, mixed salad – €18.90
The other dish we ordered is a veal schnitzel. It is soft and well crumbed and way better tasting than any other schnitzel I’ve had in Australia – the coating is still crispy whilst the meat is tender and not overcooked. It goes well with the wedge of lemon and the side of cranberries adds some extra sweetness and juiciness.
The Augustiner Keller beer house has a more inconvenient location and higher prices, but offers quicker and better service with tastier food. If you’re looking for a less bustling place to enjoy a meal, this beer house is the place to be.
Platzl 9, 80331 Munich
Ph: +49 (0) 892936100
Arnulfstr. 52 80335 Munich
Ph: +49 (0) 89 594393