Essen Restaurant, Ultimo

The funny thing about say­ing you’re unlikely to ever return to a res­taur­ant is that cir­cum­stances out­side of your con­trol will often take you straight back through its doors. Like return­ing to Essen Restaurant because your boss chose to have a farewell lunch for last semester’s interns or a colleague.

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I wasn’t too impressed by the pork belly last time, so I ordered the Mushroom spaet­zle ($18): ‘Austrian pasta, gar­lic, onion, swiss brown oyster but­ton mush­room cream, gruy­ere cheese’.

Spaetzle is one trippy kind of pasta. It’s a soft egg noodle or dump­ling that looks exactly like stir fried chick­en, and even has a sim­il­ar tex­ture to it. I could fool myself into think­ing I was eat­ing meat, if I wasn’t care­ful! The mush­rooms were deli­ciously sauteed in but­ter (the best way), and the gen­er­ous top­ping of cheese melted beau­ti­fully in the warmth of the hot pasta to bring togeth­er the mush­room and spaet­zle into very more­ish mouth­fuls. Without the cheese, the spaet­zle would’ve got­ten bor­ing rather fast.

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The next time, I order the Atlantic Salmon ($26). It’s a grilled sal­mon fil­let cooked medi­um, rosti and cab­bage braised in white wine sauce.

It was a pretty gen­er­ous por­tion of sal­mon, although it tasted below aver­age. The fish was grilled, but it lacked a crispy skin. The fish was also quite dry through­out and was just a touch off ‘well done’ — I’d have pre­ferred the fish more rare. The rosti was also soft without a crispy out­side — I feel like every rosti I’ve had here since the first one has been a let down, alas. The white wine was quite strong in the sauce for the cab­bage, and togeth­er with the soft rosti, it was just a bed of mush under fil­let of fish. I’ll stick to the spaet­zle next time!

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To wash it down, I had a non-alco­hol­ic apple cider. It was refresh­ing and cut through the cheese in the spaet­zle, although it wasn’t any­thing noth­ing special.

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With the Atlantic sal­mon, I tried my pal­ate with Almdudler ($5.50). It’s a soft drink impor­ted from Austria (and allegedly the ‘nation­al drink of Austria’) that’s made of grape and apple juice con­cen­trates fla­voured with herb­al extracts. I was a bit weary of the ‘herb­al’ extracts part, but it’s a very enjoy­able drink. Its tastes is very sim­il­ar to that of eld­er­flower cor­di­al, but it’s a tad fruit­i­er and less flor­al, and slightly more bit­ter and less sweet. It’s very pleasant!

Essen Restaurant is at 133 – 135 Broadway, Ultimo NSW 2007.