Sunday, December 08, 2013

NYC's Seasonal is a superb stop for top Austrian fare with a modern take (12-6-13)

I ran up to NYC for several days and managed to squeeze in some great dining. I first returned to the Austrian restaurant and winebar SEASONAL ( located behind my hotel at 132 W. 58th Street. I loved it the last time, and it's still a great midtown dining spot.

I surveyed the menu and decided on the small Seasonal Tasting menu for $68 (accompanying wines were an extra $60). The place is small, narrow and long and there can be a draft near the front, so ask to sit near the rear. There is a long bar on one side of the middle section. It's cozy and warm with subdued lighting, nice music and I got the best service from Katarina all evening who hailed from the Czech Republic.

The amuse of Baby Octopus with Tomato Gel (in the shape of a cherry tomato) & CHive Oil was excellent as were the rustic breads which came with two cream-cheese based spreads:Paprika-Chive & Pumpkin Seed Oil. I could not resist.

First came the Kurbiscremesuppe a thick Butternut Squash Soup with Pumpkin Seeds and a small pouch or purse of Sour Cream that I thought at first was a ravioli, but it was a chemical-type gel pouch which opened and gave the soup a special treat.

A Liegenfelder Gruner Veltliner 2012 from Burgenland had notes of Pink Lady Apples & Honeydew melon. My only complaint was that with such wonderful Austrian wines, the crystal is not so great (I did get Riedel with the dessert wine!)

The last time I was at Seasonal I had the Pochiertes Ei which I was so happy to find on the tasting menu. It's crispy seasoned Pumpernickel bread shredded on the base with chunks of Lobster, Hen of the Woods Mushrooms, a soft poached egg and a Mushroom Foam. This dish deserves an award and while it is very rich I kind of liked the also rich Unplugged Chardonnay 2012 from Hannes Reeh which came with it.

Schweinebauch was a crispy meaty and nearly fatless Pork Belly with Cumin Glaze, Cauliflower Puree, Pickled Cauliflower and Pork Skin Chips(which I could have eaten all night--think meaty phyllo dough consistency with tons of flavor). The Hellinger Pinot Noir 2011 opened up after a bit and I enjoyed it more after about 20 minutes in the glass. The dish even came on a gorgeous black plate with concentric elliptical circles.


Ente was a breast and confit of Long Island Duck with Black Trumpet Mushrooms and Mousse, Orange Sauce and Rutabaga Puree. I was in love and the 2012 Andau Zweigelt was a spicy on the tongue treat which had hints of white pepper. The duck breast was slightly salted on the skin for flavor and micro greens adorned the plate.


Dessert was a triple hit with Topfenpalatschinken of Quark(cheese) filled crepes, figs and Vanilla Ice Cream served on finely ground Cookie Crumbs with a Caramel Sauce. YUM. The Heinz Eifel Eiswein from Rheinhessen in Germany was not too unctuous and just the right pairing for the rich dish. It was slightly tart with kumquat and apricot flavors.

Powdered horn cookies, chocolate dipped cookies and a chocolate biscuit arrived which I enjoyed with some tea.

What a superb meal it was!