Long before Grüner Veltliner flowed like sommelier holy water and spaetzle was a menu fixture, Wallsé opened in July 2000 on the far western edge of the West Village.
Eleven years on, and the prescience of chef Kurt Gutenbrunner's fine-dining experiment is more acute than ever.
Recently, we sat at the bar, assembled a bespoke tasting menu (four courses for $89; six courses for $109) and enjoyed a wonderland of Austrian flavors and thoughtful technique.
A classic soup of cucumber juice and sour cream surrounded a mound of Arctic char tartare ribboned with mint. Delicate spaeztle, its dough loaded with quark, was tossed with braised rabbit, asparagus and wild mushrooms.
Elderflower and apple lightened a filet of brook trout, while a veal chop teetered on a pile of caramelized shallots and a sauce made from pools of Zweigelt, a red wine equally concentrated and fresh.
The wine that accompanied the meal itself veered into fresh Austrian territory. Grüner Vertliner was present, of course, but so were St. Laurent and Blaufränkisch, two red varieties just making inroads in the States.
It looks as though Wallsé is leading the pack yet again.
Wallsé, 344 W. 11th St. (at Washington St.); 212-352-2300 or kg-ny.com/wallse
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