On these frigid winter nights, the hearty and meaty dishes plated up at Grunauer might just awaken your appetite and warm your soul.
I dined there this week with three friends and found the inviting bar and dining room to be a great backdrop to some relaxing conversation and catching up. Upon arrival, I found a spot at the stately bar and asked for the drink menu. I had read the cocktails at Grunauer were pretty unique. After telling the bartender I was a fan of the traditional cocktail Negroni, he suggested I try the Nichol’s Folly. It was a brassy orange colored cocktail served on the rocks with a wide twist of lemon. As I brought it to my mouth the bouquet was stunning. Made with a wonderful tequila, aperol and bitters, this was a stiff drink.
Later in the meal I ordered the other cocktail that caught my eye – Grunauer’s version of the dirty martini. This vibrant red cocktail is made with a black pepper and mustard infused vodka. It also contains beet brine and pickle water which reminded me of the little glasses of pickle juice I liked to drink as a kid. It was a novel drink, but I can’t stomach the briney stuff as well as I used to.
Not only did I get a lesson in German food at Grunauer, but also in the language. I quickly found it was easier to digest the menu if I just skipped over the German name of the dish and went straight to the description written in English. There were three main categories of entrees - schniztel, gulasch and classics. Our server took a stab at explaining the differences and wrapped up the tutorial by saying Wiener Schnitzel is basically a fried pork tenderloin “which you can eat at any bowling alley”.
I chose the seasonal salad platter as my second course. It was nice with some basic mixed greens, a salad of tomatoes onions and olive oil, then some cucumbers in yogurt with dill. But my favorite part of the plate was the Old World Slaw! This crunchy cabbage with a light sweet and sour dressing was just fantastic!
When it came to the entrees we each ordered something a little different. And yes, there was Wiener Schnitzel at the table despite the server’s advice! I was definitely in the mood for some rich braised meat, so I picked the gulasch made with pork shoulder – the Schegediner. It had a tomatoey paprika sauce and sauerkraut – quite a bit of kraut making it pretty sour. It was a flavorful, filling dish.
But the best part of the meal came along with dessert. To my delight, Grunauer serves Julius Meinl coffee from Vienna. I fell in love with this coffee last fall in Chicago where Meinl has storefronts just like Starbucks. Grunauer does it right and serves the coffee in a wide Meinl logo coffee cup with a side of cream on an oval silver tray! There’s even a little shortbread cookie too! The coffee totally made my night – and it ended up being a long night because after two and a half cups of this liquid luxury, it was hard to fall asleep.