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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.

We started with the Gravlax while we browsed the menu. It came out quickly topped with capers and onions and was served with toast. Not bad, but I was there for the heavy stuff.

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.

My favorite pick was my friend’s vegetarian gulasch – the Schwammerl. It was potato dumplings in a creamy paprika sauce and the most juicy big mushrooms. Really, really nice!

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.

Grunauer on Urbanspoon

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. 1. What is the location
    2. What is Gravlax, or what is in it.
    3. Where are the labels for the photos? Some can be deduced from the story, others cannot.

    January 28, 2012
  2. Well Michael, thank you for your interest. Grunauer is located in the Crossroads District in the old Freighthouse. Gravlax is cured salmon
    and the two entree photos are (1) Weiner Schnitzel Holstein and (2) Schegediner Gulasch.

    January 31, 2012

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