A couple of weeks ago, I went to the snow for the first time since I was a kid and I got hooked. We went two weekends in a row, and because we couldn’t stop thinking about it, we are planning to go again before the season ends. I am officially a snow addict. So an alpine lodge setting for dinner at Essen seemed perfect for our snow-addled brains (there was a ski on the wall which I got stupidly excited about!).
Essen provides loads of bier and hearty food in a homely setting which was the perfect start to our non-skiing weekend. I’m not usually a bier drinker but the Mango Weizen bier provided enough sweetness for me to down the whole thing. Sir D went for the the more traditional Rodeberger Pilsner Saxony bier, available on tap at Essen. Also featured at Essen is the Schnitzilla challenge – a whopping 3.5kg mountain of schnitzel, sauerkraut and potato roesti to be finished by one person in one sitting!
We’re not game enough to face the Schnitzilla so we take the easy way out with a few entrees. The crumbed button mushrooms are deliciously crunchy on the outside but with meaty, juicy innards. The saffron aioli is a sunny yellow blob on the side, and is a nice creamy accompaniment to the mushrooms.
I’m intrigued by the Knobli Brot – a Swiss garlic bread with Gruyère and paprika. I was imagining a piece of garlic bread oozing with melty gruyere on top, but instead its just a bit of grated Gruyère that garnishes the bread. It is garlicky though, and the smokiness of the paprika is a unique twist on your standard garlic bread.
“Do you like cheese?” asks our waiter. Um, hell yes! The crumbed camembert is added to our order and when it arrives, it is 5 wedges of crispy fried cheese with glorious oozy innards! The crumb coating was a bit thicker than some other deep fried cheeses that I’ve had, but the wedges of cheese went surprisingly well with the cranberry sauce.
Pork is always in order when dining at restaurants like Essen, and Sir D chooses the pork belly as his main. It comes as a slab of fatty meat on a bed of crispy potato roesti, sauerkraut and red wine jus. The pork skin (the best part!) is sadly more chewy than crispy which is a bit disappointing. The meat itself is also a little dry but is easily fixed with the apple sauce. Overall the dish is a little too salty for my liking.
Braised meats are some of my favourite things to eat in cold weather, so I’m immediately drawn to the braised veal brisket. The meat is again a little dry, but deliciously soft where the meat is close to the gelatinous collagen fibres. It’s perfect when eaten with the smooth creamy mash and is also a very generous serving.
We manage to squeeze in a slice of apple strudel for dessert, served with vanilla custard and ice cream. The layers of flaky pastry are crisp and delicate, and with the smattering of icing sugar on top, it’s an excellent way to end the meal.
Penguin says Feed Me dined at Essen courtesy of Wasamedia
Ultimo NSW 2007
Ph: +61 2 9211 3805
Lunch: Thursday and Friday, from noon
Dinner: 7 days, from 5pm