Sunday, June 01, 2008

Cheese Spaetzle rules!

One of the things I often Google is “cheese spaetzle in New York City.” For the longest time, the attempt was futile (like Googling “German falafel”). But a few months back, Café Katja, an Austrian restaurant on the Lower East Side, started popping up. Captain Carnivore and I finally made it there last night and I was not disappointed. In fact, it makes it onto my top 5 list of NYC restaurants!

We were warmly greeted by the owner and offered two seats at the bar while we waited for a table. The atmosphere is cozy (25 seats), and a mix of modern (clean lines) and kitsch (decorated with lace curtains and pinecones.)

As we waited, Captain Carivore ordered a Goesser on tap, while I tried a “Lower East Side Cider”—fresh pressed cider, vodka and Dr. Brown’s Cel-Ray. It was a strange combination but it totally worked!

[As an aside, I would NEVER have ordered a drink with celery flavored soda had I realized what is was. Who on earth drinks celery-flavored soda? New Yorkers apparently. When I find a whole can of it, I’ll be sure to blog about it:-)]

Pretzels-- warm, soft, light, and perfectly salted came next. Best of all, they came with what I thought was a dollop of paprika and onion quark. I’ve since read that the “quark” was Liptauer- a seasoned cheese spread. It was divine!

Cheese spaetzle isn’t on the menu last night but the staff was quite happy to make it for me. Captain Carnivore was excited for a Brat, saurkraut and pickled veggies. Simply put, everything was wonderful. The spaetzle noodles appeared to be homemade and there was a perfect balance of cheese onions and noodles.

The entertainment of the evening was watching the 2 guys next to us try to outdo one another by trying to drink 2 liters of bier out of a Hofbrauhaus boot-shaped glass. We sat next to them for almost an hour and neither had made a dent.

Interestingly, there is a review of Café Katja in next week’s New Yorker.

The Schlecker family cheese spaetzle recipe remains the gold standard, but the Café Katja recipe comes in a respectable second. Guten Appetite!

Cafe Katja, 79 Orchard Street


Blogger Erica said...

Wow, even as someone who LIKES celery (and soda), celery-flavored soda sounds very weird.

10:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am totally in on the celery-flavored soda - I think it would taste great! No kidding. ( really like seltzer water - I can imagine it with a hint of celery taste).

Erin - I got hungry just reading this review.


11:29 AM  
Blogger Erin said...

Something I've read compares Cel-ray to flat Vernors. I've GOT to find a can and do a bit of research. Though for a drink that NYers tell me is sold "EVERYWHERE" in the city, 6 or 7 markets have produced nothing! The search continues.

8:30 AM  

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