The place: Gemma at Bowery Hotel
The setting: There’s enough of a
Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, but it would be a slip-up of Freudian proportions to discount Austria’s cuisine as little more than fried meats and strudels, especially under the guidance of a new breed of chefs like Kurt Gutenbrunner, who are bringing lighter, updated versions of Danube classics to venues across Manhattan. Today, Galavante stops by our favorites.
The former home of Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt III (Grace Graham Wilson) and a designated New York Landmark, this traditional Viennese kaffeehaus inside the Neue Galerie features period furniture by Adolf Loos and lighting fixtures by Josef Hoffmann against a backdrop of original wood paneling and colorful marbling. Just don’t get too distracted by the ambiance to miss the Viennese coffee specialties and 14 kinds of cakes, tarts, and strudels.
1048 5th Ave., at 86th St., (212) 288-0665, cafesabarsky.com
Edi & the Wolf
Plundering an old barn in Wisconsin, chef Eduard “Edi” Frauneder and Wolfgang “The Wolf” Ban have transformed this former pizza joint into a traditional Austrian heuriger, or winehouse, imbued with gemütlichkeit – a sense of conviviality and cozy intimacy that comes from the temporary surrender of daily responsibilities. If the classic Austrian comfort food on the menu doesn’t help achieve this state of mind, order a few glasses of Gemischter Satz wine, specially vinted in Austria for the restaurant in red and white varieties.
102 Avenue C, btwn 6th St. and 7th St., (212) 598-1040, ediandthewolf.com
The flapping wings of the “Blue Goose” at this Tribeca bistro fan a more youthful set, who fill up the flowing spaces around the beer taps. The Euro-alt tunes are groovy, and the film and art posters vintage. Pour some Stiegl Lager or Salomon-Undhof Pfaffenberg Riesling, and it gets even more attractive. Top off the night with Austrian bar bites like liptauer – steamed radishes with a spread of quark cheese, butter, paprika, and onions.
139 Duane St., btwn West Broadway and Church, (212) 571-8880, kg-ny.com/blaue-gans
Judging by the two large portraits of Kurt Gutenbrunner (by artist Julian Schnabel) hanging from the walls of this West Village outpost, the restaurateur takes great pride in the small, two-room Wallsé, named after his hometown in Austria. Drawing from the diverse culinary traditions of the former empire, the kitchen turns out fine-dining versions of Hapsburg classics like kavalierspitz (beef shoulder), oxtail goulash, and poached lobster in a béarnaise sauce. No doubt, the flavor is what keeps regular customers like Lou Reed coming back.
344 West 11th St., btwn Washington St. and Greenwich St, (212) 352-2300, kg-ny.com/wallse
(Photos: Cafe Sabarsky, Blaue Gans, and Wallsé, courtesy of KG-NY Group; Edi & the Wolf, courtesy of Edi & the Wolf)