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.
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.
The next time, I order the Atlantic Salmon ($26). It’s a g
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!
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.
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.