Nothing like a little post-Brokeback Austrian meal. The Rockies…The Alps…whatever. I, like most New Yorkers, probably don't eat much German or Austrian food. Mainly because it's few and far between (and yes, I know the two cuisines aren't the same). Here, German tends to be outerborough and kitschy while Austrian leans toward pricy and gilt.
After a BAM matinee it became a toss up between Thomas Beisel and Junior's. Since I've been to the latter countless times TB's seemed in need of trying. It was a good choice, as it was early evening and not terribly crowded. We got a two-seater that temporarily (it was soon filled by a young couple who appeared to be on a first or second date and the guy went on about his firsthand knowledge of Austrian beers and the girl, who appeared to be Russian, filled him in on all her bouts with mental illness and eating disorders. Just so you know, now when she wants cake, she eats it and it's ok) had an empty table next to it with more than six inches of space.
We both started with a hearty gruyere-topped onion soup because that's hard to resist when it's icy outside. With a large glass of Hefeweizen, that would've been a meal in itself, but I wanted to sample the entrees. I went classic and ordered pork cheeks with sauerkraut and dumplings, which was even better than I'd expected. I thought the knoedel would be airy and boring, but they were dense, chewy and carmelized, if that's possible. I suspect the main ingredient was potato. They weren't little and round, but large, thick, flat ovals. James ordered a nutty special of halibut with scallions and ginger. I would've steered clear of Asian touches, but he seemed to like it, even though the fish was oddly matched with potatoes and sweet-sour red cabbage.
For some reason the restaurant strikes me as an older person's haunt, as if the flavors are more suited to a middle aged palate. Strange assessment, I know. Maybe I'm equating Thomas Beisel's clientele with the typical BAM-goer, which isn't unreasonable.
Thomas Beisel * 25 Lafayette Ave., Brooklyn, NY