200 Ninth Ave., btwn. 22nd & 23rd Sts.
There’s nothing glamorous or remotely over the top about Klee Brasserie, the latest addition to Chelsea’s dining scene. Part ski-slope resort, part bistro, this intimate, new spot feels mostly like home. Candlestick-like fixtures in the front glass windows softly pour out onto the streets, inviting strangers inside to warm themselves over a glass of wine and comforting cuisine. After cooking stints at Fresh, Jean Georges and Bouley (to name a few), Daniel Angerer has contently settled into a kitchen all his own, partnering up with his soon-to-be wife, Lori Mason. A culmination of his childhood and vast experience, Daniel’s menu seems to be a collection of his travels. While it looks to both Europe and America for inspiration, he also embraces locally-sourced produce with a particularly strong affinity for his Austrian roots.
The wine list and cocktails are worthy of mention, particularly since Albert Trummer, a seasoned mixologist, designed these well-crafted libations: an Asian pear martini, Holunder margarita with elderflower essence, and a Hemingway special with dark Guatemalan rum. The wines, all very reasonable, are a quaint and creative collection, featuring untapped wines from Slovenia to California.
Now let’s get down the food: the contemporary cuisine
is an inventive selection of seasonal dishes, drawing on produce and seasonings from all over the world. Of course, there’s Austrian-influenced fare, including homemade sausages with sauerkraut, and wiener schnitzel with lingonberries. And Angerer is just as passionate about his daily pastas & specials: come Monday for Viennese fried chicken or egg noodles with chanterelles; Tuesday for spicy penne or Roman-style baby lamb; Friday for macaroni & cheese with lobster or paella a la valenciana.
After a long stint working at fish joints, like Fresh, Coast and Shore, Angerer seems to have a way with fish. Rhode Island swordfish steak has met his meaty match, doused in a zesty, homemade barbecue sauce, and served with a savory creamed chard, reminiscent of sauerkraut. It’s also well done in a fluffy char tartare, simply seasoned with lime and a rich, bright nibble of golden beet caviar.
The Alsatian thin crust pizza was a perfect way to start the evening; baked in a wood stone oven, the crunchy, uber-thin crust, was peppered with creme fraiche, nicely caramelized onions and smokey lardon bits. I snuck into the kitchen to sample a porcini mushroom chowder, which was velvety and rich, prepared without any cream (that’s right ladies, dairy free), with a simple splash of dill and frizzled leeks for texture. I would’ve happily planted myself in its warm embrace for the evening, as even the kitchen was cozy and untypically welcoming.
If you score a back booth, you can have the best of both worlds – a cozy table with a window seat onto the kitchen and the amber flames from the wood stone oven. Klee Brasserie manages to be original, without being affected, a welcome comfort in the wake of the overly predictable bistro menus of
Until we eat again,
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