I once was waiting for a friend outside of BAM when a gorgeous woman ran out of Thomas Beisl, (25 Lafayette Ave., between St. Felix St. & Ashland Pl., 718-222-5800), across the street and in through the doors I was standing next to. It took me a second, but I quickly realized it was Cate Blanchett (this was during the run of Hedda Gabler). It was a very dramatic moment and has been linked to the restaurant ever since. I went there for the first time recently when I was invited to dine there as part of Austria Wine Month and discovered that it's a cozy sort of pub where warm tones dominate with low lighting, dark wood tables and ochre colored walls.
We started with a glass of the Grüner Veltiner Berger, a crisp, dry, grape-y white. There's a Prix Fixe menu special for the month (which ends Nov. 22) which my boyfriend ordered from. For starters he chose the Liptauer Cheese (made with farmer's cheese and paprika). It comes with toasted bread, pickles (that were incredible) & capers and is a chunky, creamy spread with an mild tangy flavor. It was quite good, and quite filling!
I chose the Palatschinken from the regular menu, a traditional thin crepe-like pancake stuffed with sauerkraut and smoked trout. The sauerkraut was fresh and tangy, but overwhelmed the fish so that I couldn't taste the smokiness. The mushrooms were delicious though, in the sauce, and it, too, was a huge portion. By the end of the first course, we were almost stuffed!
For his main entree, my boyfriend ordered the Paprika Chicken with Spätzle. Chicken can be so hit or miss but this dish was excellent. The meat was wonderfully tender and the sauce flavorful and hearty. The Spätzle was on the crispy side and less creamy than I'm used to. It was also on the bland side, and could have used more salt or spice. It was good with the chicken though, and provided a nice mellow flavor in contrast to the strong one.
I chose from the list of Specials for my entree and picked the Braised Pork Shoulder with Savoy Cabbage. The cut of meat was a little bit like a chop, and while tender, didn't break apart quite like the chicken did. The flavor was nice and the cabbage was great. There was also a little tower of shredded roasted potatoes on the side which were good, but could have used more salt.
Even though we were quite full, I wanted to try a dessert so we ordered the Walnut Cake which comes with a caramel sauce on top. More like a tart or dense pie, it was nutty and hearty, yet light at the same time, with a wonderful burnt-caramel topping & side of whipped cream.
I got to meet Thomas, the owner, who was quite charming, and found the staff friendly and attentive. It does get very crowded before shows at BAM, so go around 7:30 instead when there's something playing. There's a small bar as well, if you're more interested in having a pint or a glass of wine. Cash or Amex only.