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#1 Sneakeater

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Posted 12 December 2008 - 08:00 PM

Last night's Elliot Carter birthday concert started late and, what with the fake cake, and the "Happy Birthday" singalong, and the fact that it was a long program anyway, ended really late (for a symphonic concert). So, even though the brand-new restaurant Seasonal claims to be open till midnight, I had trepedations when I entered at about 10:45 p.m. and asked if the kitchen was still serving. After all, they say they're open till midnight -- but they also claim to be a wine bar as well as a restaurant. Maybe the bar stays open that late, but the kitchen closes at 10, like everybody else in Midtown.

Nope, no worry: they smugly told me that they were open till midnight so they served till midnight. (Before we get all excited for the future, remember that that's the same thing that Grayz smugly told me the first time I went there, also around 11 p.m.)

Seasonal bills itself as a German restaurant, but that's because it is affiliated in some way with the German U.N. embassy. No, there's some anschlussing going on here: one glance at the menu tells you that Seasonal is quite clearly Austrian. And, indeed, both of the chef-owners (who as far as I can tell co-own with the German government) are Austrian -- and one used to cook at Danube. They ran (and continue to run) a catering service before they opened this restaurant.

Seasonal is in an unprepossessing building on an unprepossessing block of W. 58th St. (between 6th & 7th). The only thing the location has going for it is its proximity to Carnegie Hall. Which, for some of us, is a deal-sealer. As long as the food is good.

One the basis of one visit (on the fourth day they were open), I would call it good-to-very-good, but not anything approaching great. Nothing near Martin Brock's striking reinterpretation of German food at Grayz.

Of course, part of it is that this isn't a reinterpretation. It's modern cookery -- things are kept pretty light -- but the dishes are standards. And none the worse for it.

I started with a sauteed scallop dish, with a very very mild red horseradish. It was fine -- nothing special, but fine.

Then, because I'd been pummelled by freezing rain on the walk over, a tafelspitz. I don't know why some tafelspitz -- boiled beef -- is heavenly, and others are just good, but this was in the just good category. Now I don't want to damn them with faint praise: I was very happy to be eating this. But I wasn't transported.

You may have heard that Austrians know a thing or two about dessert, and that was what was really special here last night. Two little jars of pumpkin-flavored semolina pudding with fig confit on top, and a little bowl with more confit between them. Light, flavorful: a treat.

They're serious about wine here, and the carafe list is very good.

Unless I got comped a lot of things I didn't notice (a real possibility when I didn't finish dinner till well after midnight and was majorly fatigued), the prices are very reasonable. I think my meal cost something like $60.

This review makes this place sound much worse than it is. In fact, it's a welcome addition to a very tired part of the City. If it's a kind of food you like, very good is good enough.

COMP DISCLOSURE (and see above): a glass of Austrian pinot noir.
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#2 Suzanne F

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Posted 13 December 2008 - 04:53 AM

Thanks -- always looking for places to eat near Carnegie. And is sounds close enough to City Center as well.

PS: Jealous that you were at the Carter bd concert. wink.gif Well, at least we got to hear his First Symphony on Saturday.

I don't actually know what a handbasket is -- but whatever they are, singer-songwriters are in the first ones going to hell. -- Sneakeater, 29 March 2018 - 12:06 AM

 

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#3 Sneakeater

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Posted 29 January 2009 - 02:14 AM

A revisit raised my estimation of this place slightly.

It was COLD out -- and I ordered accordingly.

Pork belly "confit" appetizer, served in a tart sauce over chopped scallions. Not special, but good.

Veal cheek goulash. Is it possible that this dish was unknown to New York until Danube introduced it? I remember what a big fuss we all made about it then. Now it's just another food we all know and love. This was a fine rendition (at least one of the co-chefs came out of Danube's kitchen).

No room for dessert.

What's so notable about this place are the prices. This meal -- with a cocktail* and a carafe of good gruner -- cost me all of $65 (before tax and tip). They do this, I think, by keeping portions sort of small. But only compared to the too-big portions we get elsewhere. I certainly wasn't hungry after dinner. In fact, I had no room for dessert -- which, last time I ate here, was the star course.

The barmaid was so nice that I feel I have to mention her.

Wallsee's better. But Wallsee isn't around the block from Carnegie Hall.

COMP DISCLOSURE: A glass of an off-dry Austrian Muscatel. Will drink next time.
__________________________________________________________________
* You'd never expect this place to have good cocktails. But the Spicemaker -- bourbon, tangerine juice, and a spice syrup -- was well-balanced and flavorful.
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#4 Wilfrid1

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Posted 29 January 2009 - 02:50 PM

I will put this on the list for next time I need a midtown supper.
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#5 Sneakeater

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Posted 29 January 2009 - 02:55 PM

Another thing to note is that, unlike other places that claim to serve until midnight, these guys do.
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#6 Suzanne F

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Posted 29 January 2009 - 03:14 PM

Will be trying it out this Saturday before Orpheus.

I don't actually know what a handbasket is -- but whatever they are, singer-songwriters are in the first ones going to hell. -- Sneakeater, 29 March 2018 - 12:06 AM

 

notorious stickler -- NY Times
deeply annoying and nitpicking -- Molly O'Neill, One Big Table


#7 Daniel

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Posted 29 January 2009 - 03:16 PM

I have been looking forward to going here.. I also have been itching to get back to Blau Ganz.. It's that time of year.
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#8 Sneakeater

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Posted 29 January 2009 - 03:19 PM

To summarize, you don't walk out of Seasonal thinking you can't believe how good your meal was.

But at these prices, in this neighborhood, you don't have to.

(Daniel, you're gonna find it too light.)
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#9 Suzanne F

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Posted 01 February 2009 - 10:44 PM

Ate here before Orpheus at Carnegie last night. We enjoyed it a lot. Loved the look of the place, and the plates/glasses/flatware. We sat at a two-top opposite the bar, about halfway back. I couldn't determine noise level, since I was having ear problems sad.gif but Paul said it was loudish when full but not ear-splitting.

Server was pleasant, sometimes a bit too chummy. Bussers were absolutely great -- not clearing when it was barely obvious one of us had a bite or a sip still. Overall, though, service was a bit on the slow side, and we never did get dessert and coffee/tea as ordered because "someone dropped the ball" and there wouldn't have been time once the error was discovered.

Amuse:
Smoked duck breast over shredded cabbage, with sweet mustard

Apps and drinks:

Kärnter Schlutzkrapfen: Austrian High Altitude Cheese Ravioli with Smoked Chanterelle Mushrooms, Baby Leave [sic] Spinach and Harvest Corn Sauce [foam]

Kuerbiscremesuppe: Pumpkin soup with pumpkin seed oil

Gruener Veltliner, 2007, Schwarzbock, Weinviertel, Austria [carafe, shared]

Spicemaker (Bourbon, Tangerine, Spices) [mostly mine]


Mains and drinks:

Chatham Cod with Chanterelle Stew, Bell Peppers, Pearl Onions and Fresh Marjoram

Tafelspitz: Classic Viennese Boiled Beef with Baby Root Vegetables, Oxtail Consommé (and spinach puree)


Gruener Veltliner Schiefer, 2006, Forstreiter, Kremstal, Austria [carafe, shared]

Blaufraenkisch Kalk Schiefer, 2005, Weninger, Burgenland, Austria [carafe, shared]


We found everything very tasty, which was good because yes, the portions are not large. Sufficient, though.

Amuse was a nice mouthful. The cabbage was not quite sauerkraut but almost, and a good contrast to the slice of very rare duck, as was the mustard.

The cheese in the ravioli had a bit of a bite and the chanterelles were quite meaty. Soup was terrific, very rich but not cloying, and the oil (and a few roasted seeds) made a good flavor contrast. GV we shared with apps was dry, almost grassy. Cocktail was a bit on the sweet side for me, but addictive nonetheless. Does anyone know what the hair-fine red things floating in it are? Their spiciness seemed to grow as I got to the end of the drink. And I thought it was great that they use one very large ice cube; less dilution over the sipping period.


Mains were also not huge but well flavored. The beef was extremely tender, the spinach a vibrant dark green, extremely smooth puree tasting of just spinach and a hint of nutmeg. We weren't sure whether the three small potato pancakes -- more like rosti -- were supposed to go with the beef or the fish. Other than being a bit on the oily side, they were good, very crunchy outside and identifiable shreds of potato inside. The fish came in a pepper puree sauce, very nice. This GV was minerally, almost like a good Chablis. The blaufrankisch was fruity and a bit spicy.

Paul was disappointed that they do not have decaf coffee, but as mentioned above, we never got that far anyway.

Several other tables also must have had eight o'clock curtains, but far more came in while we were there. And it looked as though there are already regulars for the bar.

As Sneakeater said, the prices are reasonable for the neighborhood -- our dinner ran about the same $ as his, and we were quite satisfied. A good addition to the rotation for Carnegie and City Center.


I don't actually know what a handbasket is -- but whatever they are, singer-songwriters are in the first ones going to hell. -- Sneakeater, 29 March 2018 - 12:06 AM

 

notorious stickler -- NY Times
deeply annoying and nitpicking -- Molly O'Neill, One Big Table


#10 Wilfrid1

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Posted 02 February 2009 - 12:03 AM

I have to go here, if only to say "Kärnter Schlutzkrapfen". smile.gif
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***Every Monday***At the Sign of the Pink Pig.

If the author could go around the place hitting random readers with a rubber hammer, the Pink Pig would still be worth a visit.

#11 Sneakeater

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Posted 02 February 2009 - 04:27 PM

That was a famous dish from the early days of Danube, I note pedantically.
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#12 Suzanne F

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Posted 02 February 2009 - 04:43 PM

Never ate at Danube. Only at Vienna 79, Wallsee, and Blaue Gans. And in Vienna, Salzburg, and Mariaworth (but that was almost 35 years ago). This place seems different from the ones I know here.

Yes, Wilf. German and Austrian dialect are fun. So is Russian, with lots of bits of words strung together, although not as euphoniously, imo. My favorite letter is Щ, called (and pronounced) "shchah." As in Khrushchev. Very economical, one letter in place of four, but hell to say when you've had too much vodka.

I don't actually know what a handbasket is -- but whatever they are, singer-songwriters are in the first ones going to hell. -- Sneakeater, 29 March 2018 - 12:06 AM

 

notorious stickler -- NY Times
deeply annoying and nitpicking -- Molly O'Neill, One Big Table


#13 Sneakeater

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Posted 02 February 2009 - 04:47 PM

It's funny, then. Because at least one of the co-chefs here came out of Danube's kitchen, and that's the iteration of Austrian food in NYC that this place is closest to. (Not that that's very important.)
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#14 Suzanne F

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Posted 02 February 2009 - 05:14 PM

That does matter. I just can't make the comparison. (I am irrationally opposed to anything David Bouley does, having had a bad experience the one time I ate at the original Bouley, and missing the niceness of the original Bouley Bakery. And because of how he supposedly took advantage of the post-9/11 situation.)

In any case, we liked it and will probably go back. I'm interested in seeing what they do in other seasons. wink.gif

I don't actually know what a handbasket is -- but whatever they are, singer-songwriters are in the first ones going to hell. -- Sneakeater, 29 March 2018 - 12:06 AM

 

notorious stickler -- NY Times
deeply annoying and nitpicking -- Molly O'Neill, One Big Table


#15 Sneakeater

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Posted 02 February 2009 - 05:22 PM

QUOTE(Suzanne F @ Feb 1 2009, 10:44 PM) View Post
Does anyone know what the hair-fine red things floating in it are?


There's one obvious guess. But since I like this place, I'm not gonna make it.
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