The Rocks NSW 2000
Bavarian Bier Café
Various sites across Sydney
Ultimo, NSW 2000
(02) 9211 3805
Category: Just Got Paid ($50 - $100)
Dear Fellow readers,
I just want to say thank you for taking the time to read and follow my reviews thus far. I am adding a new segment to my reviews whereby I pin 3 similar restaurants up against each other. These segments will come in addition to my usual reviews, and instead of reviewing the restaurants separately given they are so similar it would only make sense to put them up against each other.
So here we go, welcome to the inaugural 3some! – This segment, Germany!
I would like to mention that these 3 are clearly not the only German style pub restaurants around however given all 3 are within the city and surrounds I felt it appropriate to work with these.
So now, where to start…
Well, firstly, I think it important that we establish that of the 3 restaurants, 2 have similar markets, whilst 1 goes for a slightly different crowd. Essen was established in Darlinghurst over 30 years, and in 2005 moved to Broadway, it runs a philosophy of serving good honest hearty German meals at a reasonable price, with decent beer and a great atmosphere. The other draw card is that after 30 years the restaurant is still under the same ownership.
Now in the blue corner, we have the Lowenbrau; its history stems back to the late 1300s, where it was first established as a brewery in Munich. Nowadays it is a bustling beer hall nestled in the rocks with a separate bar and dining area, along with its own ‘Uberbar’ based upstairs with even more dining area, and in the red corner is its younger but more diverse brother. Newer, more locations, and fighting for a more up-market crowd think of it as a 21st century version of its less nimble older brother.
I should also note both are part of the same company so funds and revenue go to the one spot, however for the sake of the food, let’s take them separately. Actually, this is also quite difficult as the Lowenbrau and Bavarian menus are more or less identical.
To put quite simply however, if you are looking for a more quiet-ish night out with friends and or family then Essen is a good spot, the food good, however given its family style food, the menu lacks the size of its immediate competition and its pork knuckle is roasted too, but unfortunately without that heavenly crackling crust. The deserts also are a little small and the service could have been a little quicker. We had to wait about 10 minutes for drinks to arrive and our mains took about 45. Despite this, it was not a bad place. How does it fair in comparison to Lowenbrau and Bavarian though? Not good unfortunately, and I am sorry to say that with the other 2 options in place, I find it hard to find myself back at Essen, despite the fact its food is a little cheaper.
As for the Bavarian and Lowenbrau, both will give you a good time. I personally tend to think the food comes faster and is better and with bigger servings at the original with the Bavarian being a little more ‘corporate’ in its approach. Let’s face it, German food is suppose to be big and beautiful, and whilst I like the idea of making the cuisine more ’slick’ and elegant, one should not change something that was never meant to be.
The atmosphere at Lowenbrau is also second to none, with the Oompa Loompa band in the background, the service fast, my pork knuckle took 15 minutes and was reaming with the crunchy, salty, crackling skin to die for. The flesh itself moist, soft and not overcooked either. Put simply…brilliant. The desserts here are very generous too. Anyone of them could easily feed two so unless you are super hungry, just order one. The sticky date and bread and butter both are very good.
As for the Bavarian, on each occasion I have been there is a sense of well, arrogance about the wait staff and atmosphere, its darker, there are more suits around and the service lacks engagement and a sense of urgency. The food also seems better presented, however I never feel like I am eating a hearty German meal. It’s more like being at a pub which serves German food. It lacks the atmosphere, despite its several beautiful locations (Wharf at Manly overlooking the water, in the heart of the CBD business district and inside an old church at Parramatta).
All in all, if you can make it, head to the Lowenbrau. Ps. Obviously, it is all about the beer too! So make sure you sample up and to make it feel like the real deal kick start things with a salty big pretzel.
All 3 establishments will set you back around $80 for 2 (main and desert).
Décor etc 2/3
Bavarian Bier Cafe
Décor etc 2/3
Décor etc 1.5/3
(02) 9247 7785