21 Espresso is one of Double Bay’s stalwart restaurants. As infamous as the Cosmopolitan cafe located just over the road, the Eastern suburbs locals amongst you would have grown up having family dinners at 21, and hearing about your grandparents meeting their friends for coffee catch ups.
To this day, the restaurant maintains that old world feel. I don’t think the decor has been updated since it first opened in 1958. Moss green bucket seats sit on grey carpets and fabric booth seating lines the entire parameter of the place. It’s homely and comfortable, and the staff are very attentive and helpful.
Serving Eastern European food, your taste buds are tempted from the moment you enter. Delicious looking strudels and poppy seed cakes are on display; or if you are after something heartier, the menu has a vast array of Hungarian dishes to make the whole family happy. From stuffed cabbage rolls ($24.50) and roast veal knuckle ($29.50) to fresh chicken livers ($21) and chicken Kiev ($29.50) – there is no shortage of options. In addition to these meaty classics, there are seafood and vegetarian options as well.
On this cold Thursday night, I was here for a pre dinner catch up. On spying the dishes zipping out from the kitchen, I found myself wishing I was having dinner here too. The portions are very generous, and with no fancy plating to distract you, they look wholesome and tasty too.
I ordered a pot of peppermint tea ($4), while my friend ordered matzah ball soup (large) with noodles ($12). Both came so quickly it made our heads spin. The matzah balls were large and fluffy, and the soup was nice and clear. It also came with two pieces of rye bread and butter which made the meal substantial, and their unexpected addition was a beautiful touch.
All too soon the teapot was empty, the soup all eaten; and it was time to head off to the next outing.
If you are ever in Double Bay, I highly recommend popping in. Next time I’m here, the only thing that will stop me from treating myself to a Godzilla sized piece of strudel will be my ability to make that all important decision: apple or cherry?
Where: 21 Knox street Double Bay NSW
Why: Large, wholesome and authentic Hungarian meals.
Cost: Mains approx $20-$30
When: 7 days, breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Good for kids: Yes
Take away: Yes