At Essen Restaurant you step down from busy Broadway to a cool, sandstone interior decorated with elements of ‘ye olde Austria’ including skis and a working cuckoo clock. A curious light-well prevents the room from becoming too cave-like.
A split in the Una’s restaurant group of three restaurants (there were also stores at Darlinghurst and Double Bay) sees the Darlinghurst store retain the Una's name (as it was the oldest of the three stores). Dutch owner/chef Geert Elzinga distinguishes the old Broadway Una's schnitzel house from the Sydney standard with a new name, and dishes like a surprisingly sophisticated Braised Oxtail Potato Dumpling ($10) served on a bed of cabbage in a petite, cast iron pot.
The menu has more vegetarian options than I expected - the dish below is a Marinated Salad Platter ($10), and it could easily be adapted to a vegetarian dish by taking off the tasty bacon (and possibly the crutons which probably were cooked in pig fat). The carrot was the best pickled item on the platter, which overall was great, and quite substantial. It was also an excellent contrast to the other rich entree we selected.
Mains like Organic Black Pudding, Apple and Potato Strudel ($22.50) served with creamy Riesling sauerkraut and caramelised apple, raise the Germanic fare up a notch. The rings of caramelised apple were quite divine, as was the strudel pastry - they boded well for dessert.
Though staples like a massive Pork Knuckle ($24.50) remain for those who prefer. Take a friend and share both; or tackle a schnitzel! One was presented to a neighbouring table with a joyful: “I hope you’re hungry!” We struggled to finish the pork knuckle... and failed.
We also tried a side serve of the Rosti, which were really on form - crisp on the outside, and practically falling apart inside... perfect!
A divine end to a hearty meal (which comes pleasantly free of a hefty price tag) is the Crème de Coeur ($10). It’s a sour cream and ricotta dumpling that is hung for a day, and then served on a forest berry mix.
We also tried the Ricotta Lemon Tart ($10) with cinnamon marscapone, and a lovely (though fingerprinted) piece of chocolate. I probably would have liked it if I hadn't been so obsessed with the first dessert!
The wine list contains some great imports which are seriously under priced. Best buys are the 2007 Austrian Lenz Moser Pinot Gris ($4.50/glass, $26/bottle) and the interesting red 2006 Lenz Moser Blaufraenkisch ($5/glass, $29/bottle) - make sure you let the red breathe for a bit before you drink it, the taste changes remarkably.
I also got to try a glass of the 2007
133-135 Broadway, Ultimo
Ph: (02) 9211 3805