Austrian (Food) Symphony
Austrian (Food) Symphony
Everyone, from locals to visitors, know that NYC is not only a destination for world-class dining, but one that represents so many places in the world when it comes to our restaurants. While you can arguably find almost any kind of food here from around the globe, I have to admit, Austria is one country that is showcased by only a select group of top-tier places. If you are so inclined, then Grünauer Bistro should make it to the top of your list.
The back story of this Upper East Side restaurant is almost as rich and colorful as the food prepared in its kitchen. The Grünauer family had owned a gasthaus (a small inn/café) in Vienna for over 60 years. Peter Grünauer grew up in this family, where he couldn't help but be schooled in the ways of Austrian cuisine. He brought his restaurant skills to New York City in the 1980s—working as a waiter at Pete Luger Steak House in the 1970s and then at other restaurants in NYC as a food and beverage manager, along with being a restaurant consultant—before opening Grünauer Bistro on First Ave. and E. 82nd St. in 2016.
This section of the Upper East Side was always known for its Germanic influences: During the early to mid-1900s, the area was flooded with central and Eastern European immigrants who opened cafés, shops and music clubs. Yorkville, which runs roughly from E. 79th St. to E. 96th St. btw the East River and Third Ave. includes what is colloquially called “Little Hungary,” and the neighborhood still holds the annual Steuben Parade (this year, on Sept. 16), which runs from 65th St. to 86th St., just a couple of blocks west of the area.
But back to Grünauer itself. As soon as you enter the restaurant, you feel an Old World graciousness envelop you, the kind of place where wait staff calls you "sir" or "madame." Coffered ceiling panels, brick walls, white tablecloths add to the warm ambience. And menu choices stay true to what you hope for in an Austrian restaurant—starters such as marinated herring and veal tongue with pickled vegetables: mains that include Hungarian Beef Goulash, Classic Sauerbraten, Viennese Steak With Crispy Onions. Naturally, one saves room for dessert at an Austrian eatery, and Grünauer does not disappoint with its choices of all the Greatest Hits of Austrian sweets such as a sacher torte with whipped cream; apple strudel with housemade vanilla ice cream; and a Kaiserschmarrn (caramelized Viennese pancake with plum compote).
For a quick but utterly satisfying trip to Vienna while in NYC, I would suggest you book yourself passage at Grünauer Bistro.
>> Grünauer Bistro, 1578 First Ave., 212.988.1077