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I figure that a really good and interesting restaurant opens on the Supper East Side about as often as the Mets get to play in the World Series. Since the team was in the one recently concluded, it stands to reason that a restaurant that is noteworthy and worth regular visits comes into being. Grunauer Bistro, which opened last month, on First Ave. and 82nd turns out to be this place. That the owner once had a well-regarded restaurant more than 35 years ago, Vienna 79, where I believe David Bouley started out, was a good sign.


Of course Grunauer invites comparison to the other outpost for Viennese/Austrian food Cafe Sabarsky in the Neue Galerie. Based on our first meal, my wife and I see almost no comparison. A look at Grunauer's menu on-line will show you the "Internationale" Austrian specialties, many of which are on the much-shorter menu of Cafe Sabarsky. While the dining room at Grunauer is more Austrian "lokale" ( I told the owner-perhaps the manager- that it was like being in the bar-restaurant area in Vienna known as Grinsing, whereas Cafe Sabarsky is a good recreation of a Viennese cafe. Regardless, great care and not an insignificant amount of money have gone into the decor of Grunauer with its wood paneled ceiling and large mirrors along one side of the room.


We kicked Grunauer's tires with a shared appetizer of boiled veal tongue with pumpkin seed vinagrette; veal Wiener schnitzel; and tafelspitz, a Viennese classic of a big chunk of boiled beef shoulder in a broth and boiled root vegetables served with three sauces placed in small a compartmentalized ceramic serving dish. The weak link was the appetizer, which lacked assertive flavor, with the star of the meal the tafelspitz, but with the schnitzel not far behind. We ended the meal sharing a very-agreeable Salzburger Nockerl, a souffle with tiny blueberries made from scratch.


While we were arrived on the early side, by the time we left. the restaurant had one empty table. The clientele were not millennials or arrivists, but mostly middle-age people who no doubt appreciated the opening of a no-gimmicks, made-from-scratch, a la carte-only restaurant. As I'm a denizen of the Upper-East Side, Grunauer looks like the restaurant equivalent of a savior in an otherwise culinarily-deprived neighborhood.



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BTW: Didn't the Vienna 79 guy have a place in Brooklyn near BAM that was not at all on a par? Or am I thinking of someone else (who)?

You're thinking of Chef Thomas Ferlesch (who now has a restaurant in Lefferts Gardens, BTW).


Peter Grunauer was the owner of Vienna 79; I don't think he's a chef (I may be wrong).

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