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Klee Brasserie

200 Ninth Ave., btwn. 22nd & 23rd Sts.

European American
Homey brasserie
OCCASION: A cozy date, bar dining or group dinner

DON’T MISS DISH: Swordfish steak with barbecued creamed chard   
DRINK SPECIALTY: Wines by the glass, carafe & bottle; Signature cocktails
PRICE: $40 & up
HOURS: Dinner, Mon – Sat, 6 PM – 11 PM; Lunch, Mon – Fri, 12 PM – 3 PM (will begin the next couple weeks); Brunch, Sundays, 11:30 AM – 2 PM.
RESERVATIONS: Reservations accepted, recommended on weekends.
FINAL WORD: There’s no place like home as Chelsea gets a warm and fuzzy brasserie all its own, with an eclectic menu & inspired cocktail list to boot.

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.

Klee_brasserie_nyc_restaurant_girl_exter The space is simple: exposed brick walls trimmed in mirrors, bright mosaic-tiles and an exposed kitchen all lend themselves to the casual, defiantly unpretentious vibe.  A long maple back bar with seating for 15, is the centerpiece of the restaurant, perfect for a carafe of wine, cheese plate, lobster roll, or a full-blown dinner.  Or plop yourself down on one of the couchy, eggplant-colored banquettes with movable arm rests.  Hell, if you make friends with your neighbors, just lift the arm rest, and voila, a table for four becomes a table for eight.   

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.

Klee_brasserie_nyc_daniel_restaurant_gir 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.   

Klee_brasserie_nyc_restaurant_girl_sword_1 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,
Restaurant Girl

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