Mon-Sat, noon-3pm and 5pm-11pm; Sun, 5pm-10pm
N, Q, R at 57th St.-Seventh Ave.
American Express, MasterCard, Visa
This modest little ground-floor, railroad-space restaurant sits on the south side of the street, next to a Subway sandwich outlet. The chefs and their menu are Austrian, but the kind of gilded, neo-Hapsburg-era frippery for which ambitious Austrian restaurants used to be famous is absent. The two rooms are painted in basic white and decorated with just a few arbitrary knickknacks (handblown glass bottles, flowers, simple paintings). The curved bar is fitted with cruise-ship-style white leather chairs, but because it’s in the middle of the room, it makes the place feel more like a wine bar than a serious restaurant. The clientele are stolid pretheater folk, and a few random neighborhood gourmands who don’t look like they’re there because they’ve just read about the restaurant on a blog or in a review. They look like they’re there for the quaint, old-fashioned reason that someone told them the joint served really good food. At Seasonal, two expert cooks occupy the kitchen, not just one. Wolfgang Ban and Eduard Frauneder are graduates of the Vienna Culinary Institute, and they describe their menu as a kind of “new modern” take on that deceptively refined, staunchly traditionalist cuisine. The potentially dreary boiled-beef dish called Tafelspitz is made here with high-grade flatiron steak, which is poached for hours to an almost unnatural tenderness, plated in a rich oxtail consommé, and served with two perfectly cooked, silver-dollar-size potato rösti cakes. That other old Austro-Prussian warhorse, Wiener schnitzel, is cooked in a puffy, golden crust, which my mother-in-law compared favorably to the legendary schnitzel of her youth served at the famous Berghoff restaurant in Chicago. Wine geeks may be shocked to learn that there’s no sommelier at Seasonal, a fact that did not detract from our enjoyment of a very nice bottle of Grüner Veltliner “Kirchberg” from the Schwarzböck winery near Vienna. Nor, if you enjoy Viennese desserts, will you be disappointed by the crêpelike Kaiserschmarrn, which are broken into little knots and scattered with powdered sugar and bits of apple compote.Recommended Dishes
Scallops or pork belly, walleyed pike or Zwiebelrostbraten, Topfennockerl dumplings.