#31 Seäsonal Restaurant and Weinbar
A true Austrian classic, tafelspitz, meaning literally “tip” (of meat), is boiled beef in a Viennese-style broth. The chef had used hearty shoulder meat and prepared it in a subtle, smoky oxtail consommé, with baby carrots and leeks. The beef was accompanied by three sauces: tart creamy horseradish, mild apple and gooey spinach. It was also served with two crunchy potato rösti (roughly grated potato that had been fried).
This dish had been excellently prepared. The meat was tender, the light broth clean yet flavorful and the accompaniments perfectly prepared. To my mind, it was faultless (though still very heavy).
For dessert, I was advised that the only option without alcohol was the apple strudel. (The kirschtorte – a deconstruction of the traditional chocolate cake also looked delicious but included a strong liqueur.)
When it arrived, this strudel was wonderfully fragrant, with beautiful hits of cinnamon. Wrapped inside the crumbly, crunchy filo pastry shell was a big helping of hot, sweet and slightly tart granny smith apple mixed with raisins. This tidy package was lightly dusted with icing sugar. It was served with simple vanilla ice cream on a bed of chocolate crumbs.
Together, Chefs Wolfgang Ban and Eduard Frauneder are a formidable pair. They put out impeccable, authentic Austrian foods with a modern twist. Even in the case of the tafelspitz, which is an incredibly hearty dish, they found a way to make it light and fresh, while staying true to its roots. For fans of the cuisine, this is unquestionably one of the best places to go in the city.
Where the restaurant falters a little is in its space and also its service. While the small space is very tricky to work with (it’s like a long and narrow corridor), it could still do with a bit of freshening up. The furniture seems a little dated, which makes the environment a bit sterile. To make matters worse, the staff were brusque (perhaps because they were overstretched), pushing me to try additional dishes I clearly didn’t want.
Ultimately, I wouldn’t choose to go back to Seäsonal. The food is very good but, quite simply, I don’t find Austrian cuisine that tasty. It’s very heavy, using meat, cream or both. In addition, the space itself feels a lot cheaper than the quality of the food. They should opt for a more intimate, cozy vibe to really encourage people to feel at home and enjoy a solid, impressively prepared meal.
132 W. 58th St.