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Essen Haus, The
Taps: - / Bottles: -
Cask: N / Beer-to-Go: N
$$ - reasonable
[ Bar, Eatery ]
514 E. Wilson St
phone: (608) 255-4674
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4 | $$
Great atmosphere and beer. There is a polka band playing most nights. Many good German beers on tap, including Franziskaner Hefe and Dunkel, Spaten Optimator, and Paulaner Salvator. Warm pretzels with mustard and horseradish for 50 cents a piece. Service can be a little slow, but not really a big deal. Go next door to the Comeback Inn for a pretty good selection on tap and a huge selection of bottles. Food is good, but can be a bit expensive. I usually go for the Friday all you can eat fish fry. Be sure to go with a and try a boot.
01-05-2008 22:44:41 |
More by lowbrau
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5 | $$
Beers: A nice selection of German beers, somewhere around 12 beers on tap, give or take a few. A nice range in German styles, including a few less common styles, including Alts and Munich Helles.
Food: I've sampled 4 different German dishes on different occasions. Every time the food was delicious, portions are quite generous. I really enjoy the red cabbage as a side. I would recommend going for a German dish instead of an American item if you visit.
Service: Service is typically prompt. Especially for meals. Later in the evenings when the place gets packed, it can be a bit spotty, but nothing over the line.
Atmosphere: Very good atmosphere. Often have live German music from one guy to a full polka band. During weekend evenings lots of people drinking a lot of boots and dancing to the polka band. During weekday evenings, a bit more subdued, no problem getting a table, but not too subdued.
Overall a great place to get impossible to find German drafts and German food. Definately recommend. If you prefer more quiet go during the week, less rowdy, for a crazy busy atmosphere, with lots of drinking go on the weekend. If you're there past 11pm on the weekend, the only draw back is the typical student who has too many boots and litters the bathroom with his weinerschientzel.
EDIT: I see a lot of people definately not recommending the food and that was recommended by people who worked there. I've eaten there 4 times and plan on going back. I felt it was good food, maybe some people don't care for German food. I'm still breathing so I guess I'll take my chances again with the cleanliness issue some talk about.
03-30-2007 21:31:10 |
More by uwmgdman
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | $$$
Nice place, sits right across from the lake. Inside is about as German as you're going to find in America. There are similar places, and they may be more German, but this is pretty damn good, I'd say. Quality of the beer was fresh. It was nice to have a fresh Helles again, they're hard to come by in America. Service was pretty good, they did their best despite being so busy. The effort is what counts. Selection wasn't huge for on-tap selections, but there was enough to keep the palate happy, and with limited offerings they're able to keep fresher things available. I didn't try any food, but it appeared to be authentic German cuisine, perhaps I'll give it a try next time. Prices were a little on the high side for the area, but it's a place I enjoy visiting when I'm in town.
03-29-2007 22:10:35 |
More by badbeer
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 3.5 | $$$
I walked in with the expecatations of a Munich beer hall and I saw a lot of heavy drinking and young college kids drink a lot of boots. The beer selection was a little small in my opinion, good, but kinda small. The atmosphere was good, not Germany good, but good. You could talk with friends, some you may have just met, some you've known. They have a small "Beer Garden". It's indoors, the ceiling seems a bit low, and it's next to the bathrooms. The giant ceiling they have is over the food/beer tables next to the tiny stage where not so bad music is played. It got crowded a bit after some time, so about 8:30pm we left for another bar. Overall I would go back just to try the fresher German beer and use the authentic glassware...it's a bit of fun using them.
01-14-2007 10:30:04 |
More by Erdinger2003
vibe: 5 | quality: 4 | service: 3 | selection: 4 | food: 2 | $$
The festive atmosphere to the Essen Haus is infectious.
I was very happy at the Come Back Inn next door, with their excellent selection of beer. When I heard there were TWO dopplebocks (both Salvator and Optimator) on tap on the other side of that magical swinging door, where hootin and hollerin and cheering were coming from, I was lured in to the promise of dark sweet German beer and satisfying German food.
I got the beer. It was great.
So was the atmosphere. Very festive, reminiscent of the beer halls of Munich (when they are filled with drunken American tourists). But, more importantly, all ages were represented here and everyone was having a great time.
The food, however, was horrible. The roulades were supposed to be thin steak and bacon wrapped around sausage meat and pickle. Bacon around sausage. How can you do wrong? Well, they found a way. They came out looking like two little turds and someone forgot to cover them in sauce. The spaetzle was dry and flavorless. The French Onion soup was dirty dish water with onions.
On the bright side the Prime Rib was ok, and so was the liver dumpling soup. Even though the waitress did not bring the au jus with the prime rib (or maybe they don't serve it that way) we kept the livery broth to dip it in and that gave it some nice flavor (if you like liver, which I do).
So listen to DaPeculier Dane. Don't eat here. I was suckered in my the German ambience (under the influence of two doppelbocks :)
But of you love German beer and atmosphere, do DRINK here. And next store. A great stop in a Madison beer tour.
10-15-2006 01:36:55 |
More by 4thoseabout2bock
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | $
The Essenhaus is a top beer bar and a must for anyone traveling to Madison. This place is second on my list (after the Memorial Union Terrace) of places to take friends from out of town. The Essenhaus features just about any German beer you could think of on tap! The specials are great. Half liters are only something like $2.50 during happy hour and boots (normally $16) are only ten bucks on Thursdays. Polka bands play there regularly. The waitstaff are great and wear traditional Bavarian garb. Its kitchy, dirty, and very Wisconsin. Their bottle selection is great too, plenty of good American crafts and the whole Lindemans line from Belgium. Better yet, the Essenhaus has a door to the Up North Bar on its SE wall and a door to the impressive Come Back Inn on its NW wall. If you dont care for German beer and cant find the craft you like at Essenhaus, just walk over to the Comeback, grab a pint, and carry it back over to the Essenhaus.
IMPORTANT NOTE: I am not rating the food because I dont want to bring down this bars score. For me this is a beer bar and I just ignore the whole restaurant part. Now this is very important dont eat here. Dont ask why. You do not want to know. Just, what ever you do, dont eat here. Dont even think about it. Avoid the Come Backs food too. Seriously!
04-03-2006 17:04:06 |
More by DaPeculierDane
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 1 | $$
Wir gehen zum Essenhaus! Was a common battlecry for thursday nights, when a boot (2L) of beer was available for a mere $10, and 1/2L's were on sale for three (note: this has changed recently. Most likely after the looting that occured during the weekend graduation for the class of '05). The waitstaff is ever quick to please and the polka band blares away singing "I don't wan-her, you can have her, she's too fat for me, oh, she's to fat for me." Truly a pleasant germanic atmosphere. Kitchy as hell, but surprisingly authentic within that. Good beers, good times, good friends, what more could you want?
Oh, yeah, food. Avoid it at all costs. Overpriced and it tastes like poison.
Avoid the bathrooms too, if possible. Late in the night they get rather, uhhh, messy.
03-05-2006 20:38:33 |
More by shbobdb
vibe: 5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | $$
Live Polka, waitstaff in lederhosen, multiple German brews. Wisconsin's German tradition runs deep in this place. On any given night the clientele runs from 21 yrs. old to old german faces that are practically dead. Most tables are overflowing with patrons and at least one 2-liter glass boot going around (Hint: Two 1-liter boots go around much faster). As tradition goes, the person after the one who finishes the boot has to buy the next one. A good game to play if you are a broke college kid and have your drinking pants on.
If a 2-liter boot seems a little on the sissy side for you, they also offer a 5-liter ceramic stein (courtesy of Spaten) to test your arm strength. Only my friend Big Joe can lift this thing without two hands and physical/moral support. I have never been to a place that is more condusive to Polka-ing(?) and partying at the same time. The truth is, I can only remember leaving this place twice in six years.
A can't miss for anyone with a shirt and shoes.
07-22-2005 16:25:07 |
More by barrelman
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3 | $$
Best selections of tap German beer in Madison (and no St Pauly girl). The ceiling is lined with over 2000 mugs from customers who joined their mug club (I gather that you get your own mug, but it stays there for display). The walls are lined with steins and other brewania I went there on a Friday night where there was a German band playing, which was neat, but a little loud and made it almost impossible to hold a conversation if you were on that end of the building. Fortunately this place is a bit of a walk from state street so I have never seen it become extremely crowded to a point that it is annoying (which is a common occurrence at other bars).
07-17-2005 22:04:04 |
More by circuitmonkey
vibe: 5 | quality: 3 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3.5
Tourist bar? College bar? German beer bar? Yes, it's all here. There's no place quite like the Essen Haus... a gigantic beer-guzzling rathskellar in Madison. Because it's right off the highway and near the state capital, this place draws a lot of businesspersons for after-work conventions. Yet on any weeknight, expect to see a group of college revelers passing "pitchers," which are actually just glass boots. Also, you'll just see a lot of visitors to Madison go there because of its reputation.
Unfortunately, I've known a lot of friends who have worked here and told me horror stories. I don't believe in trashing someone's reputation, but virtually all of my friends who have worked here told me NOT TO EAT there. That's pretty disturbing... apparently they have some cleanliness and health inspection issues.
That being said, this place definitely has some redeeming qualities. Take, for instance, the beer selection. You'll have a superb selection of German imports here year-round, and in the spring, look for the dopplebocks. In the fall, look for the Oktoberfests.
The atmosphere is awesome. It's basically a gigantic beer hall. On any given night, look for live oompah music. It's pretty insane, they play classics like "roll out the barrel" while everyone guzzles down beer in glass boots.
Basically, just go there and don't eat the food.
11-18-2004 03:57:28 |
More by Sixpoint
Essen Haus, The in Madison, WI