Posted by: Hungry Korean | March 7, 2011

Cafe Katja

Kale just got back from a weeklong work trip out west and we had a number of things to catch up on. She suggested Cafe Katja in my neighborhood. I had never heard of this place and apparently have been living a block away from this very popular Austrian eatery for several years now! Shocking that I never found/discovered it myself because a quick search on the web indicates that the place is very popular and known for it’s delicious German fare.

The place is quite small and doesn’t take reservations so I was prepared for a bit of a wait – particularly since the food is apparently worth waiting for.

I started with the liverwurst appetizer.

It’s served in a pot with several slices of toasted bread and a variety of pickled vegetables to help cut the rich liver.  This liverwurst was amazing. I was scooping heaping piles of that liverwurst onto toast slivers.  It’s difficult to explain what I consider to be good liverwurst (or chicken liver or any other liver type food that I eat) but the best way to explain it is that the liver must not be grainy in texture but smooth and creamy, it must not have too much of a “liver-y”or gamey aftertaste, and it must have wonderful hints of seasonings like garlic or onion or whatever appropriate. This liverwurst will definitely have me coming back. I scooped up every last bit of it and honestly wanted more.

Kale started with the large German pretzel: homemade and served with a cheese and mustard spread.

The bread was a bit crunchier on the outside but soft and dense on the inside. Chewy as a pretzel should be with flecks of salty grains scattered on top. A really good pretzel.

For main course I had the Austrian meatballs served with potato puree, roasted vegetables and crispy fried onions.

Wow. I have to say these meatballs were very good. Incredibly moist and tender and judging from the flavors and color of the meatballs, I would have to say they were either made of veal or a high consistency of veal meat. The potato puree acted like a gravy, draping their velvety starchness over every bite. The crispy onions gave a nice bite of onion-y flavor while providing a nice contrasting crunch. I ate all three. This was a dish to have on a cold night.

The people that work at Cafe Katja are incredibly hospitable and nice. They work hard to keep the entire room happy (there were only three working the kitchen, the room and the bar!) and do it with a smile. The food is delicious and in spite of how tiny the place it, it renders a more cozy warm feeling rather than one of claustrophobia. I regret that I’m just discovering this place now when I’m moving out of the hood in less than a month’s time. But I will come back…especially for liverwurst that good? Most certainly.

Cafe Katja, 79 Orchard Street, New York, NY

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