Some things just belong together; Summernats and bogans, gin and despair, high heels and osteopaths.
At Essen, a German-style bier haus at Broadway, it’s all about European beverages and schnitzels the size of manta rays.
The problem is that Kitteh Daddeh and I wander off the reservation, distracted by crumbed deep-fried Camembert ($10), crumbed mushrooms (also deep-fried – $8.50) and Dutch beef croquettes (you guessed it: deep-fried – $10). After a quick assessment, I take the cheese, he takes the mushrooms and we mutually agree that the croquettes are creepy (mashed cooked meat).
To add to the confusion, I order a Mango Weizen that, for the uninitiated, is 500ml of cloudy wheat beer with a shot of mango juice ($11). The fresh-faced German waiter tells me it’s a good girlie summer beer. Turns out I’m not a good girlie; I am not at all taken with this. I think the beer would have been great by itself.
Why, then, did I order the Grapefruit Weizen? Who knows? All I know is that I can be really dumb sometimes. Kitteh Daddeh loves his Altenmünster fliptop ($11 for 500ml), a Bavarian pilsener that’s not too heavy, which is just as well since he also ordered the Weiner veal schnitzel ($19.50) that comes with buttery, golden rosti and a side of raw cabbage salad. He also orders a side of sauerkraut that is apparently as good as his mother used to make; it’s smoky and the vinegar is well balanced. He looks at it protectively every time I go near it with my fork.
I order oven roasted duck served with braised red cabbage, potato dumpling and marzipan-stuffed apple ($29.50). After all the cheese, my appetite has taken a beating so I really have to labour through this heavy dish; the serving sizes are huge.
The décor has a touch of chalet chic; folk-art painted chairs, exposed brick walls and a mass of warm timber tables. It walks the fine line between casual and civilised with a cheerful smile.
On balance, I think Essen is a man’s paradise. So long as you think like a man, and order like a man, you will be as happy as a man.
Essen, 133-135 Broadway / Ultimo See the Essen website
Now it’s your turn – how do you rate Essen?