Rico Bibrack and Christian Lerchster opened K’nödel after first trying to import the European dumpling from their home countries of Germany and Austria. When they struggled to get their shipments past Australian customs due to pasteurisation issues, they decided to open a small restaurant and make their own.
The two of them (also of Foodcraft Espresso in Erskineville) own and operate the Surry Hills venue with just one employee, their chef Stefan Kovac. It’s an unpretentious space with a (kind of) German red-and-black theme, steering well clear of popular minimalistic Nordic interiors currently fashionable in Sydney.
“The interior is designed to complement our logo. Black and a little red,” says Bibrack. “One red chair, one red lamp shade, one red candle and soon … one red cushion.”
A k’nödel (you pronounce the “k”) is a boiled dumpling from Central or Eastern Europe.
“All our knödel are handmade in-house by Stefan with a base of either bread, potato, flour or curd,” says Bibrack. After learning the Australian perception of European cuisine is that it’s heavy and stodgy, Kovac and the team altered some of the traditional recipes to cater for the Australian market.
Start with a simple Austrian spinach k’nödel, a large, bread dumpling topped with Parmesan and butter. Then there’s the Russian fish pelmene, with a rich filling of local, seasonal fish (currently whiting) served with a lemony, buttery sauce. The standout is a cheese pirohy, a Polish dumpling filled with soft feta cheese, topped with crispy bacon and sour cream.
There are traditional mains like chicken schnitzel and steak, or you can go full dumpling with the hot pot, a dish of slow-cooked oyster-blade beef, broth and more k’nödel, served with creamed spinach, potatoes, horseradish and a chive sauce.
The wine list is largely Victorian and South Australian, though the two house wines are European. A rich, spicy blaufränkisch pairs well with heavier dishes such as the beef goulash.
For dessert there’s a black cherry, marzipan and pistachio-filled choux pastry, similar to a profiterole but boiled rather than baked. It’s best served alongside a glass of glühwein, a mulled wine spiced with orange, cinnamon, clove and star anise.
Shop 8, 38–52 Waterloo Street, Surry Hills
(02) 8021 4806
Tue to Fri 11.30am–10pm