EssBar is usually closed on Mondays. But today, a window table has been laid at the restaurant in Düsseldorf’s Kaiserstraße. Daniel Baur has prepared ceviche with limes and avocado, cucumber, chilli and coriander. The fine strips of marinated stone bass have been appetisingly placed in a fan arrangement. Olga Jorich serves a crayfish cocktail with pineapple, asparagus and mushrooms. She pours 2 glasses of wine, her wine of the month: ‘A 2021 Godramstein Pinot Gris from the Weingut Münzberg estate.’
A dream team: she in the service, he in the kitchen
It’s not only when MPULSE pays a visit that the restaurant’s day off is sacrificed. ‘We’re always on the go,’ says Baur. ‘I love it!’ He and Jorich realised a dream with EssBar – the dream of doing what they know best all by themselves, with her seeing to the service side and him in the kitchen. While the 2 of them are serving up their tasters, their 3-year-old son Hektor is arranging his dinosaurs on the bar. ‘When he gets back from his gran’s in the evening, he runs over to the guests and introduces himself,’ relates Jorich.
The informal atmosphere is a hit with the guests. ‘Everyone is welcome and everyone is afforded the same degree of attention,’ Jorich says. That’s not to say all the guests want the same things. Some like to talk, others are looking for a little peace and quiet, while others have difficulty voicing their wishes. ‘I enjoy the communication, seeing what the guests have to offer and what I can contribute.’
I cook what I like to eat myself. If I like it, the guests will like it too.Daniel Baur, EssBar
Their love of this line of work took Jorich and Baur to Michelin-starred restaurants – she was working at the Im Schiffchen restaurant on Kaiserswerther Markt and he was a cook at Düsseldorf’s Hummerstübchen restaurant after having completed his apprenticeship. ‘That was like a second apprenticeship,’ says Baur. ‘Simply the way they cooked with fresh ingredients there was an aha moment for me.’ The two of them met at work and decided to become self-employed. They opened EssBar in Pionierstraße in October 2014 – in a small shop which was more reminiscent of a bar.
EssBar is all about diversity
‘All too often, we had to turn away too many people,’ says Baur, explaining the reasoning behind the move to the larger premises in Kaiserstraße in 2018. The concept behind the success? ‘I cook what I like to eat myself,’ says Baur. For example, octopus with mashed potatoes and olives, served with French black pudding. ‘If I like it, the guests will like it too.’ EssBar is all about diversity, offering reinterpretations of traditional fare, high-end French cuisine and Asian-influenced ingredients and seasonings, sometimes light and other times hearty.
Ever-changing vegetarian starters and mains are well received, even by guests who otherwise eat meat and fish. ‘The guests are very curious because few people really experiment with preparation methods and seasonings for vegetables at home,’ says Baur. Jorich’s ‘thing’ is wine; she helps the guests choose from among over 80 different varieties and is exploring new avenues here too: ‘I’m currently trying out a lot of alcohol-free wines.’ Because even without alcohol, wine is ‘a more versatile accompaniment to food in terms of flavour than a juice spritzer’.
The extensive menu changes every 6 to 8 weeks. There is also a weekly menu. Baur loves the variety in the kitchen, while the guests love it on their plates. The array is broad, and so too is the price range: ‘A main costs anything from €10.50 to €35,’ says Jorich. The Michelin Guide testers have recognised the restaurant’s good ratio of price to performance with the Bib Gourmand twice in a row. Jorich and Baur are even more delighted with praise from their guests. ‘Our guests should enjoy their visit even if they only sample some starters or order a plate of pasta for lunch.’