By Christopher A. Pape
When one thinks of haute cuisine one usually thinks of French, Italian or Japanese. Almost no one if polled would venture that Austrian is a cuisine that commands respect, acknowledgment or praise for being delicious and innovative. And yet, this couldn’t be further from the truth. For here in our fair city resides a restaurant so acclaimed and beloved that it is hard to ignore and hard not to love.
The restaurant, Wallse, is a shining star in the firmament of New York City dining and has been for over a decade. Owned and operated by Kurt Gutenbrunner (see interview with Kurt for the A Taste of Tribeca article), Wallse sits at the forefront of modern and innovative cuisines. Rightly considered a pioneer among chefs, he has still remained true to his Austrian heritage and culture.
Recently a colleague and I enjoyed a meal here and from start to finish; first bit to last, we were enthralled. We started of with an amuse bouche of smoked fish in an “ice cream cone”. The fish was perfectly executed and the crisp cone itself added a perfect contract of textures.
Moving on, we had a slice of perfectly cooked (meaning rare) tuna with spring onions. The dish itself lingered in our minds, as well as, our taste buds; and was thoroughly enjoyed by both. A beautiful Austrian white varietal was paired with it and both the dish and wine pairing connoted a different era of living – one in which refinement ruled.
Our second dish of our four course meal was squab filled with an emulsion of foie gras. If a perfect dish exists, it is this. A lover of both squab and foie gras the plate combined the two elements perfectly. As we cut into the beautifully crispy skin, the foie oozed out its fatty goodness; I was in heaven.
A lamb dish presented itself that was gamey (but not overly so) accompanied by asparagus, mashed potatoes and a nicely flavored jus. A bold red wine was paired and my guest and I couldn’t be happier. We then moved onto dessert that was simply and utterly spectacular.
Mention should be made of the interior which is homey without being kitschy and charming without being suffocating. The staff was friendly and professional without being intrusive. Both my guest and I vowed that we would be back (one that I will seriously keep) and hope that our readers take this call to action. Visit – it’s the La Donna of New York City restaurants. •
344 West 11th Street
New York, NY 10014