I was surprised, to say the least. Certainly the location of Seäsonal–a whitewashed pocket on a grimy Midtown side street–betrayed the sophisticated and nuanced food that lay within, and was… Austrian, no less! Apologies to the Austrians, but I’m used to spätzle (egg pasta) that sits like a rock in the gut, and wiener schnitzel (breaded and fried veal) that, sure, gets the job done, but isn’t going to be on anyone’s “last meal” short list. Nonetheless, both were ordered here and both were exceptional. But first, let’s talk appetizers!
We arrived on a Saturday for lunch, slightly surprised to see only two or three other tables occupied, even if it was Midtown on the weekend. Had the good reviews been a flash in the pan? Were people staying away because it had just been an amusing novelty, a regional cuisine of the week to fill some newspapers? One word: nope.
For our appetizers, we ordered Spargelsuppe, white asparagus soup with rock shrimp, morcilla (blood sausage), and spring onion; as well as Pochiertes Ei,
a soft-poached egg with lobster, maitake, and porcini.
The asparagus soup was delicate and pleasant, the rock shrimp spiking the purée like little flavor bombs. A few thin shavings of asparagus provided nice texture and reminded you there was a vegetable in there to be self-righteous about.
As for the Pochiertes Ei (pictured at top), I’m still having dreams about it. The creaminess of the soft-poached egg, the dollops of rich lobster, and the earthy undertone of mushrooms were balanced with a crunchy topping of fried pumpernickel breadcrumbs and a refreshing smattering of microchives. Hard to tell under all that mushroom foam, but trust me. You want to open that present.
As for our entrées, the aforementioned spätzle and wiener schnitzel were dressed
The spätzle was a creamy mixture of Bergkäse (mountain cheese), large fleshy wild mushrooms, zucchini, and–though they weren’t listed–I could have sworn there were some asparagus and green onion in there, too. Highly satisfying if, yes, a bit dense, but such is spätzle! (Nonetheless, my friend couldn’t help cleaning the plate.)
The wiener schnitzel had a light, puffy crust that begged for a spritz of lemon. I couldn’t get enough of the potatoes–tossed with lemon and green onion–as well as the spaghetti-like strips of cucumber mixed with dill and crème fraiche. The lingonberry was experimented with, but essentially stayed put for these diners.
[Sorry, I forgot to take photos of the two desserts we ordered, a decent Apfelstrudel and a better Sacher Cake.]
Whether it’s for lunch or dinner, I highly recommend the prix fixe (3-course lunch for $27; 5-course dinner for $64). Unless you’re just not that hungry, it makes pure economic sense over ordering à la carte. And after both the amount of food and the quality we were served, $27 was a steal.
As for the surroundings, the white modern décor gave it an austere Teutonic flair, though the ambient music made us a little sleepy. The wait staff was a bit on the serious side, except for the water guy, who simply looked hungover and couldn’t tell us what the accompanying dips were for our bread. But this will not deter! We’ll be happy to see him again, too.
Other NYC restaurant reviews:
Minetta Tavern: I Don’t Get It
Colicchio & Sons: What’s New Is Old
Eleven Madison Park: French Laundry Wanna-Be
Peter Luger v. Strip House: The Steak-Off
Motorino v. Kesté: Neapolitan Pizza Pie-Off
Locanda Verde: Swing and a Miss
Maialino: Danny Meyer Does It Again
Marea: Do Your Homework
Great Jones Cafe: Best Wings In The City
Apiary: Hidden Gem
Brooklyn’s Fatty ’Cue: Malaysian BBQ
La Esquina: VIP Mexican Food?