At the Michelin-starred restaurant resting inside a quiet and cozy room on West 11th Street in New York’s charming West Village, chef Kurt Gutenbrunner wows diners with his modern Austrian fare. At Wallsé, the well-known and well-established eatery that has become a regular hang-out of New York’s art world elite – like Julian Schnabel – guests are treated as members of the Austrian Habsburg empire. And, I’m not complaining.
Recently sitting down to dinner at the modern and beautifully decorated restaurant, I found out, first hand, what all the talk was about. Upon entering, it is obvious that attention and love is in the details. The entire room is thought-up and constructed by Austrian designers, right down to chairs that date back to the early 1900s. The silverware, the china, the art – it’s all Austrian. I was escorted to my table and immediately presented with a menu. I opted for the 6-course tasting which is curated by the chef.
An amuse-bouche of quail egg and trout roe was delivered. Even in its tiny stature, the flavor packed a punch that left me excited for the additional courses to follow. Like the ever-graceful Danube River, food flowed effortlessly from the kitchen to table. Red beat terrine with horseradish, snail ravioli with butternut squash, cod with chanterelle mushrooms and cherry tomatoes, slow-cooked skate with clams, artichokes and basil, sea scallop with pineapple, tomato and yellow-curry sauce, venison goulash with wild mushrooms and, to finish, apple strudel with cinnamon ice cream. All of this was paired with a strictly Austrian variety of wines that matched the flavors of the meal perfectly.
The service at Wallsé is extraordinary. It’s clear the people working at the restaurant believe in their product and are genuinely happy to share it with their guests. It shows. Mr. Gutenbrunner’s dinner is marvelous and worth the cultural exploration if you’re not familiar with traditional Austrian cooking. The flavors, simplified, are accessible to most palettes and will please you. They did me. I will definitely be back for more.