Friday, December 19, 2008



Words, Judith Ecochard

While strolling down an unremarkable stretch of Midtown Manhattan’s West 58th Street –lined with small scale townhouses and office buildings… we were thinking about how little we knew/expected from Seasonal, a new Austrian-German restaurant and weinbar…spatial and cuisine wise.

Well we had a ‘wow’ moment as soon as we walked into the elegant, somewhat art gallery vibe (but warm and inviting) establishment.

Because the gleaming white walls adorned with striking artwork, softly illuminated with ethereal lights in the shape of branches, the cozy white and brown leather banquets, a (full) wooden ‘wein’bar that inhibiters will want to linger at, a barely heard ambient music soundtrack, and the beautifully ‘accessorized’ settings of clean, contemporary tableware and linen…was an oasis.

At once calming… and buzzing with the excitement of an insiders’ enclave.

We recommend the general public get in on this eatery - the superlative quality of the food is more than equal to the “eating out as an event” conjured up by the experienced chef/partners Wolfgang Ban and Eduard Frauneder.

Feeling like privileged sophisticates- after a warm greeting- we were graciously escorted past an eclectic crowd of poshly dressed Europeans (who seemed to reside here-not tourists), urban hipsters, and stylishly turned out couples of a certain (older) age who were probably way cooler than us…to our spacious table.

The menus…both the wine list and the food kind, had mouth watering selections that were both familiar and not- to our American/Irish/French sensibilities.

To start off… an amuse-bouche of wild boar and procuitto, and a sliver of gluttonous pâté artfully served with a triangle of toast, was delicious according to our meat-eating companion.

We couldn’t devour our starters-a fresh wild king salmon carpaccio with a poached quail egg and honey mustard cream, and sumptuous sea scallops with red beet butter, black trumpet mushrooms and fresh horseradish- fast enough…

And we were so not sharing …not even a smidgen of a taste… too, too good.

Next up were well-timed entreés - as much a feast for the eyes as they were for our palettes.

A classic Wiener Schnitzel (breaded veal cutlet) with tasty crescent potato-cucumber salad and homemade lingonberrie compote- was perfectly cooked, surprisingly “light” and a fitting choice for cold weather dining.

We also experienced a little bit of heaven after our first bite of the pumpkin seed crusted Black Sea Bass (Kurbis Barsch) with ‘mop it up’ butternut squash sauce and aromatic black truffles.

Generously, we shared a forkful.

We finished our leisurely paced meal (we’re gabbers) with a rich, dark chocolate soufflé, and a mild to pungent cheese platter with textural interest provided by two colorful chopped fruit compotes.

Smartly, we left the wine pairings to Seasonal’s Fraudener.

Instead of the usual inside our comfort zone Reislings (which are terrific)… we were treated to a chilled Rosé served over a layer of solid frozen ice in a wine glass, a Spatburgunder (Pinot Noir), a fruity (apple) and spicy, mildly dry Rivaner, a clean, crisp Grüner Veltliner and a delish lager “Jever” a brewed in Vienna beer, foam and all ---- that surprised us- as it was a winning selection to go with our cheese tidbits.

Though Seasonal may not have garnered the intrusive television cameras and brand awareness of a Top Chef/Celebrity anointed restaurant, we have no doubt, that this top tier spot, will and is--- getting the “Nielsen” numbers it deserves.

And will last well past next season’s ratings' weeks too.

INFO: Seasonal Restaurant and Weinbar
132 West 58th Street (between 6th and 7th Avenues)
212 957-5550