Magazine article The New Yorker

Tables for Two

Magazine article The New Yorker

Tables for Two

Article excerpt

344 W. 11th St. (352-2300)--At this snug, sometimes boisterous spot, which attracts both homesick Austrians and the city's more sombre food lovers, the proprietor and chef Kurt Gutenbrunner shows what his native country's specialties can achieve when they are prepared with understated grace. The tiny twin storefronts, with whitewashed brick walls and blurry architectural photos, are more Josef Hoffmann than Gustav Klimt, but they are somehow grand in their simplicity, just like the food.

Chestnut soup, billed on the menu as a "Viennese Melange," is a creamy holiday treat spiked with cognac. But the oxtail consomme is kind of depressing, all tradition and purity. The savory spaetzle, flavored with Quark--a fresh curd cheese that comes across like sour cream--are fortified by braised rabbit and wild mushrooms. And the potato roesti is perfectly balanced between crispness and fluff--supporting a punchy coalition of salmon tartare, salmon caviar, and watercress.

Wiener schnitzel is the chicken-fried steak of Central Europe, and Wallse's lack of pretension suits the humble breaded veal cutlet, which is juicy and light. …

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