Learning to Love Austrian Food
From Wolfgang Puck to Arnold Schwarzenegger, Austrians have made it big in America. But Austrian food and wine—not so much. Two young Manhattan chefs are working to change that.
Arnold Schwarzenegger credits his strength to pumpkin seed oil," says Austrian-born, New York–based chef Eduard Frauneder (left). "In Austria, you can buy it at the petrol station." In the US, the dark, nutty oil certainly isn't sold at Shell or Exxon, or even most supermarkets. Yet a handful of new restaurants are working to get Americans excited about Austrian cuisine. In Manhattan, Frauneder and Wolfgang Ban own the elegant Seäsonal, which has earned a Michelin star, and they recently launched a second restaurant, Edi & the Wolf, a casual wine bar that highlights obscure central European grapes like Neuburger and Blaufränkisch in a rustic-chic room filled with reclaimed wood sourced from a barn.
© Michael Turek.Like Seäsonal, Edi & The Wolf explores the lighter side of Austrian food, marked by frequent use of dill and caraway, savory-sweet flavors and lashings of pumpkin seed oil. Although the chefs do make Austria's famous schnitzel, much of the menu is vegetarian. "Austrians actually have this very granola way of eating," says Frauneder. "There's a lot of muesli and whole grains." Dishes like panko-crusted asparagus with watercress salad and spring vegetable stew with pickled onions aren't stereotypically Austrian. Then again, neither is Schwarzenegger.
Austrian Food: U.S. Spots
Seäsonal and Edi & the Wolf, New York City
Seäsonal is Eduard Frauneder and Wolfgang Ban's Michelin-starred place; Edi & The Wolf is their new wine bar.
Café Kristall, New York City
Kurt Gutenbrunner serves Viennese dishes at his new venture, a sleek café in a Swarovski boutique.
Grüner; Portland, OR
Chef Christopher Israel makes Alps-inspired food (buckwheat spaetzle with rabbit, liverwurst canapés) using top local ingredients in a cool, minimalist space. grunerpdx.com.
Grünauer; Kansas City, MO
This Midwestern spot from a Vienna restaurant family updates Austrian classics, such as the pot roast–like tafelspitz.grunauerkc.com.
Leopold's, San Francisco
A new wave of Austrian designers are carrying on the tradition of predecessors like Josef Hoffmann and the Wiener Werkstätte.
Courtesy of Lobmeyr
The 19th-century Viennese glassmaking company Lobmeyr hired design group Polka to update a traditional beer glass. $137; kneenandco.com.
Courtesy of Feinedinge
A stemlike handle is the visual hallmark of the new "Alice" tea collection by Viennese porcelain design company Feinedinge ("fine things"). $200; feinedinge.at.
Courtesy of Dottings
Centuries-old Austrian company Riess and buzzy Vienna designers Dottings collaborated on enamel cookware in an array of colors. virages.fr.
Courtesy of Mano Design
Witty Alpine references mark this porcelain antler plate by Mano Design. $75; florisity.com.
Austrian Grape Guide
Everyone knows Riesling, but what about Rotgipfler? Here, some overlooked Austrian varietals.
© Michael Turek
The light- to medium-bodied reds can have floral notes and a Pinot Noir– like silkiness. Producer to try: Moric.
Loved by sommeliers, these whites are prized for their great minerality and snappy flavors. Producer to try: Weingut Brüdelmayer.
These whites have zingy acidity but honeyed depth of flavor. Producer to try: Weingut Tinhof.
From the warm Thermenregion, these whites are rich, juicy and spicy. Producer to try: Weingut Stadlmann.
Related to Pinot Noir, this grape can produce deeply fruity or restrained reds. Producer to try: Rosi Schuster.