Germans sure know how to cook comfort food. So it's perfect if you're seeking refuge from the rainy, wintry weather. At Essen Restaurant & Beer Cafe the food is hearty and delicious. And the German (read: enormous) servings will undoubtedly sate us gluttonous ones.
I'm here for dinner with Captain Adventure (whose alias has mysteriously stuck all this time) on a rainy Thursday night. Despite the miserable weather and the fact that it's a school night, it's surprisingly busy inside.
We begin with the Deep fried camembert with cranberry compote ($10) as a starter. As Captain Adventure points out, the cranberry compote is not so much a compote, it's more just a jam out of a jar. But it doesn't really bother me. The deep fried Camembert is delicious either way.
The Reuben is only available for lunch on Thursdays and Fridays, but the Essen team is kind enough to make it for us at dinner. The Essen Reuben is a marriage of beef brisket, homemade mayonnaise, sauerkraut and gruyere on rye bread. It's so big to the point that it's ridiculous. I actually take half of it home afterwards. My only lament is that the rye bread is too soft. It needs to be toasted up a bit to create a gloriously crunchy texture.
The hefty pickle that comes with it is also a tasty accompaniment, and the hand-cut chips are satisfying in every way possible. This mammoth of a Reuben is only $22.50 with chips and a beer at lunch time on Thursdays and Friday.
We also order the Crispy skinned pork belly with roesti, sauerkraut & red wine jus ($27.50). The roesti is impossibly buttery. I cannot get enough of it. I absolutely gorge myself on the roesti. The pork belly has a beautiful crispy skin over the succulent meat.
For dessert we opt for the Apple & pear strudel with vanilla sauce and ice cream. The vanilla sauce is creamy and delectable. I especially like that there are real vanilla beans in it. There's a scrumptious crust enveloping the strudel, made of brown sugar and cinnamon.
I also order an Almdudler ($4.50), which is a nostalgic decision. It's a herb lemonade from Austria, which reminds me of my visits to Austria in my childhood. To be honest, I had forgotten what it actually tastes like, but just one tiny sip brought the memories flooding back. It's a herbal drink that most Australians would probably compare to a lemon, lime & bitters.
The Schnitzilla challenge is also worth mentioning. There's a guy at a table next to us attempting to get through the 3.5 kilograms of schnitzel with cabbage salad and roesti. If you finish it in 45 minutes, you'll get it for free.
Schnitzilla - photo taken from the Essen Facebook page