Last night’s dinner, a group affair at Park Slope’s Café Steinhof, was probably more notable for its beer than its food. That’s not to say that the food at Steinhof is bad – quite the contrary. But there’s still a great thrill for me in being able to drink Goesser, one of the best national Austrian beers, “vom Fass” (on tap). Thus, the evening (which ended in the watching of the second half of game 3 of the NBA Finals at a bar on 5th Avenue) turned into more of a mid-week cocktail hour than a meal worthy of the title of the blog.
That said, the food at Steinhof is almost as good as I’d remembered from the last time I was there (at least a year and a half ago). The menu hasn’t changed much, if at all – the Kaesespaetzle is still the first dish on the entrée menu. Unfortunately, particularly given how much I’ve plugged this comfort food to others, I was a bit disappointed – they’ve replaced their stinky Swiss or Swiss-like cheese with something blander. Without the extra olfactory kick, the spaetzle doesn’t sparkle as much. Nonetheless, two other at the table besides me were quite satisfied.
We were also quite satisfied with 90% of the cheese and charcuterie platter, the exception being the really terrible (even cat-food-like) pate. The rest of the meats and cheeses and other goodies were quite nice, though I was surprised that the pickled red cabbage tasted like it had Japanese salad dressing on it (as it turns out, so did the salad that accompanied the spaetzle.
The bread dumplings (on the entrée menu, though we ordered them as an app) were also lovely – seemingly homemade and probably using the leftovers of the black and white bread basket that was plopped on our table (for the record, the bread isn’t quite stiff enough, but it’s serviceable). With the dumplings swimming in a cream sauce with mushrooms, the forks flew fast and furious to the center of the table.
I heard good reports about the orecchiette (seemingly more Italian) and the chicken paprika (a Hungarian import), but did not taste them. I did taste a chunk of the pork (Wiener) schnitzel, which was large, but not this large (scroll down). The flavor was less traditional schnitzel and more breadcrumb-y, but it was relatively grease-free (for once), and I liked it nonetheless.
Viennese iced coffee was served last, and was basically a shameless delivery device for schlagobers (whipped cream). If there’s anything I miss terribly about Austria, it’s the coffeehouses – stately, formal, perfect places to while away the hours with a newspaper. I can’t say I’d mind doing the same at Café Steinhof’s bar, actually – and I can read the newspaper much more easily over here.