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Monday, 28 October 2013

Sydney: Una's Cafe & Restaurant

My visits to Sydney in the last few years have been centred around the inner eastern suburbs of Darlinghurst, Kings Cross, Paddington and Rushcutters Bay. I'm of Dutch descent and was recently granted my Dutch citizenship (yay!). So, really, it is quite AMAZING that I'd never been to Una's (338-340 Victoria Street, Darlinghurst) prior to last month.

Una's is somewhat of an urban legend in Sydney. Its focus is home-style, traditional European cuisine with influences from the likes of Austria, Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Hungary. Its infamous plate-wide schnitzels, its relaxed and friendly vibe, and its proximity to the nightlife of Kings Cross for over 40 years have ensured its continued success. My Dad tells me tales of prolonged business lunches he spent at Una's 20 years ago, and my 20-something (OK, 30-something) friends still pop in there for a schnitzel before a night on the town.

Una's is a Victoria Street mainstay, complete with red brick archways, wooden carved chairs, everything written in cursive font (hard to read, but oh-so-European), and a husky-voiced waitress with an accent and a beaming smile. The restaurant feels warm, comfortable and pleasant - best encompassed by the German word gemütlich. There are a couple of tables out on the footpath, but the vibe is nicest indoors. Cute touches like feature tiles in the bathroom, and dark wooden panels incorporated into the ceiling, give the place even more of a European feel. The best bit is that it feels genuine, not over-the-top schmaltzy, and the food is convincing, too - not a half-arsed attempt at the cuisine, like Tex-Mex is to Mexican. I almost wish I'd worn traditional costume... (Didn't someone promise me clogs?!)

So Dutch right now

It's not exactly what I'd call 'gourmet', but the food at Una's is solidly good, and as previously stated, the servings are very generous. Offerings include hearty meals such as Schnitzel, sausage, goulash, steak, salmon, Dutch beef croquettes, soup and salads, with traditional sides such as Sauerkraut (pickled cabbage), Rösti (European grated and fried potato), and Spätzle - my favourite! (soft, Austrian, potato noodles); even Thomy brand mustard. Desserts include Strüdel and other cakes. Una's is open for breakfast as well as lunch and dinner, seven days a week, and offers its complete menu for home delivery through Suppertime.

Salmon fillet on salad

Gypsy Schnitzel with Roesti

More Schnitzel! The "Jaeger" served with mushroom sauce and Roesti

Sauerkraut ("cabbage salad")

Spicy tomato sauce served with the Gypsy Schnitzel

Thomy Mustard

As much as I could finish! (I did pretty well, I thought)

There's a decent beer list, BYO wine is perfectly acceptable, and apparently the Schnapps is also plentiful - something to be explored on my next visit. (*rubs hands in glee*)

Perusing the beer list

He went for DAB in the end, to wash down the salmon

I had BYO champers, to celebrate my new Dutchness.

My sister tried the Gluehwein... great choice on a cold, rainy day

Whilst enjoying our lunch at Una's, a prominent Australian actor came in for a quick Schnitzel with his son. I won't say who - let the man keep his private happy lunch place! Alright, alright, his first name starts with M and his surname rhymes with 'Satan' - but it just goes to show that Una's is embraced by all kinds of folk - even sober (as in, not high off their tits from Kings Cross adventures), well-paid, famous ones.

It was a rainy day when we were there, and I think Una's hearty food suits winter time best. Nonetheless, I look forward to my next Schnitzel there, rain or shine - hopefully this Christmas. Una's is well worth a visit - particularly if you have a big appetite! (Costumes optional.)

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