Searching for adventure, some friends and I picked Cafe Steinhof (422 Seventh Ave. at 14th Street, 718-369-7776) for dinner, not knowing what to expect. I don't know anyone who's eaten here, but I've been curious when I've passed it on other Park Slope excursions. It bills itself as "Austrian Comfort Food" and there certainly is a large assortment of Schnitzel and Sausage on the menu to satisfy those cravings, but there were other, more surprising items like whole fish, vegetable ravioli and Mussels.
The interior was a bit confusing to me. On the window sills there were the obligatory beer steins and 'old world' knick knacks, but on the center divider between the dining area and bar was a humongous potted palm, and on one wall about 10 photos were displayed with this as explanation: "These photographs were taken in various New York City neighborhoods during the period of 1981-1982." Not sure how that relates to Austria, but I still liked them, with shots of old Coney Island, Converse All Stars and short shorts & knee socks (on men). There were also lots of strings of lights that made the place feel festive, and everything was done in brown and red which made it feel cozy as well. Good for a cold January night. Some of the tables were too cozy though. We were initially seated at a round "table for four" that was too small for two people. We asked to move to the bench along one of the walls where we pushed two small rectangular tables together for more room.
All the main courses here come with some a vegetable and a starch (rice or potato). The sausages come with potatoes and either sauerkraut, lentils, red cabbage or salad. There are six soups and as many salads to start with, and a number of desserts (which were surprisingly good). We started with some salads. I chose the Iceberg & Watercress salad with Radishes. It was big, fresh & crisp with a light creamy dressing.
My friends chose the White Bean salad with Goat Cheese and Tomato which was good as well. Nicely portioned, with two huge slices of creamy, tangy goat cheese on top. Yum!
The Roesti (potato pancakes) were delicious, with a crusty layer of potato on the outside and soft in the middle. This came with a summer vegetable ragout (corn sliced off the cob & mushrooms) and fresh herbs. It was a bit heavy and buttery, but that's comfort food, right?
The whole Roast Trout was great - tender and flavorful - and the green beans that came with it were crunchy and garlicky and the roasted potatoes were well-seasoned and cooked perfectly.
The Bratwurst was salty and meaty and hearty. I chose the sauerkraut which was fresh and delicious. Not too briny or tangy, but just right.
The Sauerbraten was amazingly tender, and came with red cabbage (delicious) and potatoes. It was a huge portion though, enough for two people to share.
It was amazing that we had enough room for dessert. I think we were all so pleasantly surprised by our meals, that we were curious about the sweets. We got the Chocolate Custard and the Apple Bread Pudding. The custard was more like a mousse, thick and creamy, topped with whipped cream and slices of sweet strawberries.
The Bread Pudding was served warm with strawberries and creme fraiche and was incredible.
There was nothing left of any of these dishes. I really liked all the food here, and would recommend it to anyone.