Given Klee’s pleasant, neighborly scale, the food is better than you would expect, but given the prices, it’s probably not quite as good as it should be. The dishes I tended to like were the smaller ones, like the fresh, leafy salads (butter lettuce with dill dressing, blue cheese with romaine and roasted hazelnuts), good arctic-char tartare spritzed with lime, a nice mushroom soup with frizzled leeks, and the pork tonnato, made with a light tuna sauce and rumpled slices of Kurobuta pork. The larger items were more straightforward but more uneven. The swordfish steak ($26) was fine as swordfish goes, as were the wood-oven-roasted pork loin ($24) and the strips of charred Wagyu hanger steak ($27). On the other hand, my platter of Wiener schnitzel was overbreaded, and the chicken ($21) could have been roasted in the diner down the street. You won’t find a better selection of cheese at your local diner (there are tastings from five countries), however, or a more dense, chocolatey Sacher torte, and if you like this sort of thing, the lunchtime hot dog ($10) is made with Kobe beef.
Chelsea for FoodiesShareThis
Address: 138 W. 25th St., nr. Seventh Ave.; 212-633-1800
Hours: 5:30 to 11 p.m., Monday through Saturday.
Prices: Appetizers, $10 to $18; entrées, $26 to $36.
Ideal Meal: Venison or octopus, grass-fed beef, “Celery Root Abstract.”
Note: The sophisticated bar menu includes excellent brandade “fries” stacked like little logs and scattered with black-olive powder.
Scratchpad: The ambience deserves a single star at best, but the inventiveness of the cooking combined with the varied wine cellar bump everything up at least one notch.
Address: 200 Ninth Ave., nr. 22nd St.; 212-633-8033
Hours: Lunch noon to 3 p.m., Thursday through Sunday. Dinner 5:30 to 11 p.m. daily.
Prices: Appetizers, $8 to $14; entrées, $21 to $27.
Ideal Meal: Kurobuta-pork tonnato, swordfish, Sacher torte.
Note: Try the Holunder Margarita, made with Corzo tequila and elderflowers.
Scratchpad: This sophisticated though pricey neighborhood joint is worth a single star, but if you’re not in the area, don’t go out of your way.