Written by Hulda Lawrence
Seasonal is the name of a new Austrian-German Restaurant and Weinbar located at 132 West 58th Street, between Sixth and Seventh Avenues, 212 957-5550.
The food is excellent with different touches and not at all typical of Austrian-German cuisine. We discussed this approach to food with Wolfgang Ban, the co-owner with Eduard Frauneder who met as students at the Culinary Institute of Vienna and have been cooking together ever since. Nicole Friedrich, the general manager, handles the bar and develops special drinks.
At lunch the other day we began with a Spring Cocktail of champagne, sour apple puree, kiwi, St. Germain and elderflower liquor. Another popular drink is vodka, lingonberry puree, Grand Marnier, vanilla and thyme. From Wolfgang we learned that in Burgenland there is a group of female vintners who are producing some very good wines. Birgit Braunstein is one of these vintners.
We began with Wild King Salmon Carpaccio with Poached Quail Egg and Honey Mustard Cream. It looked beautiful and tasted delicious. We then shared a Mixed Salad with Salt Baked Beets and Elderflower Dressing. Then came our entrée, Pumpkin Seed Crusted Black Sea Bass with Butternut Squash Sauce and Black truffles. We enjoyed that and also tasted Classic Viennese Boiled Beef with Baby Root Vegetables and Oxtail Consomme. Both choices were fine.
Other entrées include Creamed Spinach with Roesti and Organic Poached Egg, and Homemade Egg Spatzle with Pecorino and Gruyere Cheese, Crispy Onions. There is also Arctic Char on English Cucumbers with Dill and Potatoes, Organic Chicken Poached in Red Bell Pepper Sauce with thyme and Spatzle and Wiener Schnitzel.
There is a three-course lunch menu of soup or salad, Chef's choice entrée and dessert for $25. The chef's course entrée when we visited was ravioli.
From the a la carte menu appetizers are Diver Boat Scallops, Potato Leek Pancakes and Chicken Breast on Marche Salad, and Austrian BLT with prices from $9.
There are several desserts: Semolino Pumpkin Seed Terrine, Applestrudel, Sacher Cake, Palatschinken and Kaiserschmarrn.
There is a seven course chef's tasting menu for $64 in the evening. A la carte entrées start at $21. For those who prefer there is an assortment of cheeses for dessert. Three cheeses are $15 and five are $25.
You don't have to travel to Istanbul for flavorful and good Turkish food. You need only go to Sahara's at 513 Second Avenue, near 28th Street, 212 532-7589. Our waiter, Ty, from Turkey was helpful and friendly as were all the serving staff. Owner Michael Kocak has followed the lead of chef Sinan whose style is simple and modern. For those who relish the Mediterranean diet, Sahara's is their place.
We began with cocktails. My Pomegranate Mojito was fine as was my companions Maker's Mint Julep and each was $7. Next time I shall try Swimming Pool of Grey Goose Vodka, Bacardi Rum, Blue Curacao and other delights or a Blood Orange Martini.
With our drinks we nibbled a variety of cold appetizers including Hummus, chick peas and tahini paste; Babaghannouj, char-grilled eggplant; Soslu Patlican, eggplant with sauce; and Lebni, yogurt with walnuts. Other cold appetizers are Tabuleh, Stuffed Vine Leaves and Pilaki, red kidney beans.
Next we tasted some hot appetizers. The Bulgar Wheat stuffed with ground lamb, pine nuts, currants and walnuts was very good. We also sampled Zucchini Pancakes. There also is Falafel and Calf's Liver.
Everything is made to order and when I said I did not want cucumber in my Shepherd salad, it was omitted from the salad we received.
We ordered a Mixed Grill with Shish Kebab, Chicken Kebab, Beyti (chopped lamb) and wonderfully tender Lamb Chops.
Then came dessertKunefe, shredded wheat with cheese and pistachio, Baklava and Turkish Custard. Each was delicious and made on the premises.
We ordered Turkish wines Yakut, a red, and Cankaya, a white, which were $7 by the glass. However, there is a vast cellar of all kinds of wines from all over the world as well as from Turkey. Bottle prices start at $24.
Everyday there is a special lunch with a choice of soup or appetizer, salad, entrée, dessert, coffee or tea for $13.95. There are plenty of choices. There are six appetizers and eleven entrées from which to select. If you order a la carte, appetizers start at $6, kebabs at $14. The mixed grill is $21 and combinations of kebabs are $16 to $20.
Hours: Noon to 10:30 p.m. weekdays. Weekends noon to 11 p.m. The special lunch is served Monday thru Friday only in the restaurant. There is a large take-out menu and food also is delivered
The dollar sign indicates the approximate cost of dining for two persons, excluding beverages, tax and gratuity.