As good as the goulash is, the classic Austrian dish called kavalierspitz—boiled beef shoulder, topped with apple-horseradish relish and served with the velvetiest spinach purée imaginable—is better. A sometime special of wine-braised beef shoulder comes with schupfnudel, one of those wacky Germanic dumplings that look like elongated gnocchi and are as fun to eat as to pronounce. Next to these plates, the fish dishes can seem a bit anemic—a token gesture, perhaps, for those fat-phobic types who can’t be seen in public tucking into a nice rindsgulasch or one of the excellent wursts Gutenbrunner imports from a gourmet German-sausage maker upstate and serves with hot mustard and sauerkraut (the burenwurst, laced with mild cheese, is the best).
With Pierre Reboul (of Wallsé and Café Sabarsky) masterminding desserts, skipping one is like dining at Le Bernardin and forgoing seafood. There is strudel and Sachertorte, or course, but there is also poached and breadcrumb-dusted quark dumplings, soft and cheesecakey, floating in a cross between an orange soup and a salad. And the soft and cloudlike pillows of Salzburger Nockerl part to reveal a reservoir of sweet-tart huckleberries. Is it German? Austrian? Tribecan? Call it elevated quasi-ethnic comfort food. Gutenbrunner seems to think it’s just what New Yorkers feel like eating right now, and we’re inclined to agree.