There are dishes that, for better or worse, define the competency of a restaurant or the deliciousness of a cuisine. The association game played with food is no straightforward gambit—but no doubt it is hard to be a lover of Japanese food without some taste for sushi; an Italian enthusiast with no love for pasta il dente. In this sign-less restaurant in the lower east side, I discovered first hand the woes of a tourist palette. I promptly fell out of love with weiner schnitzel and continued on unobstructed my relationship with Austrian cuisine.
Edi and the Wolf has a proper rustic feel to it, where one might find shelter on a rainy day to be met with a warm fire and a hearty beer. The long table in the middle might be shared somewhat uncomfortably, but still space enough to ignore your neighbor entirely if you choose to do so. We start our night off with beers, flat bread, and a healthy serving of pork.
Beer is never a disappointment. The small and large, as marked on the glass, denote 0.3 L and 0.5 L—meaning only that the proper thing to do is to go big or go home. The first starter was the flat bread. An unexpected dish from an Eastern European joint, where I should think one might go further East to find such a bite. And what a bite it is. Mushrooms, olive oil, some marvelous mess of cheese, and basil, a complex mix of flavors that like all diners love, come together in each bite. The pork belly was a more straightforward flavor, not as rich in depth as our favorite San Danielle, but porky in its own way.
Then came our meal’s piece de resistance. My brother has taken to ordering chicken, which for me always was something of a secondary protein. Tonight, this chicken played second fiddle to none. First sous-vide, the chicken acquired a moist and tender inside, only outmatched by its pan seared crisp skin. Finally, a simple savory sauce with artichokes and spinach put the whole dish together.
In comparison, the weiner schnitzel was simple, in a way that left the punch line untold. A heritage porker was the source of my breaded entrée, but what made a pig heritage and another commonplace was lightly glossed over by our server. I was excited by the lingonberry side, but that along with the cold serving of potatoes made up for little. Not an entirely unsatisfactory dish, but lacking the painstaking thoughtfulness of the chicken, which was not even heritage.
All in all, the restaurant lives up to its Seasonal kinship, with Eduard and Wolfgang creating a tavern well worth the visit. The décor of the restaurant itself is enough to warm your insides and prepare you for beer and their signature fine wines. And whether or not you dream of breaded veal or pork when thinking of the Viennese, rest assured that in this gastro pub, there is that and much, much more.
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From the Notebook: Despite my love for Seasonal, I never made the connection that Edi and the Wolf stood for Eduard and Wolfgang. There’s a garden out back which is great for brighter days. Bathrooms are worth checking out, the metal work in there is quite stunning. Special thanks to T-Minus for the recommendation.
Edi & The Wolf
102 Avenue C
New York, NY 10009