Despite only giving one star to the Austrian restaurant, Pete Wells seems nearly enchanted by the Upper East Side's new spot, Grünauer Bistro. Clearly pleased by the bistro's charm and authenticity, the New York Times critic enjoyed the fact that his very formal waiter responded to a woman's request for water by stating, “Madame, consider it done.” Wells makes a point in writing that, “He was so perfect for Grünauer Bistro, and Grünauer Bistro was so perfect for him, that it’s impossible to imagine a time when they hadn’t been together. The whole restaurant is like that.”
This restaurant is somewhat of a “holdout” from Yorkville's past when, “businesses fed the Czech, Slovak, Hungarian, Austrian and German immigrants who lived side by side in microneighborhoods that replicated the arrangement of Mitteleuropa.” The menu is not so surprisingly filled with traditional Austrian fare such as Wiener schnitzel with lingonberries, potato salad, and cucumber slices, goulash, and spaetzle.
A throw back to the old days, Grünauer Bistro is practically blameless, as Wells attributes mistakes, to the fact that, “it may be that the kitchen is simply trying to play along with the illusion that everybody at Grünauer Bistro has been doing this for so long that imperfections are to be expected once in a while.”
Overall Grünauer Bistro does Austrian food right. Wells writes, “Dill-strewn bands of house-cured gravlax with whole-grain mustard sauce reappear, and are worth getting. Applesauce cut with horseradish still makes an interesting complement to the tafelspitz, beef braised to tenderness with root vegetables in a light broth.”
Don’t forget dessert. Wells notes that though “The shell of pastry wrapped around apple strudel was damp one night, but flaky and crisp on another,” that more delicious and “ridiculously good, actually — was the kaiserschmarrn, a dense, eggy pancake broken into pieces that were white with powdered sugar and stained dark by fruit compote.”For the full New York Times review, click here.