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Note: Click here for a more recent visit to Wallsé.

Last November, a friend and I went to Wallsé. It’s a beautiful restaurant that could pass for an art museum if it wasn’t serving such wonderful food. On a cold fall evening, Wallsé offers the perfect getaway from the elements.

To start, I had the Spätzle (a kind of Austrian pasta) with braised rabbit, wild mushrooms, Brussels sprouts, and tarragon ($15). Our server guided me to this, and he wasn’t mistaken: it was a wonderful dish. Both my friend and I were beguiled by the crispy cod strudel with a stew of carrots and ginger with black trumpet mushrooms ($27). Cod is the humblest of fishes. The highlight of the dish is the light, flakey, almost ethereal strudel crust that surrounds it.

I don’t normally have dessert, but who could resist when things were going so well? We shared the Quark “cheesecake” with chilled quince consommé and elderflower sorbet. The menu puts “cheesecake” in quotes because it’s made with a very light cheese, giving the cake a consistency just slightly more solid than whipped cream. The quince consommé came in a separate dish, and it almost seemed superfluous to the excellent cake. Perhaps combining the quince with the cake would produce an even more successful offering.

When Wallsé called to confirm our 6:00pm reservation, they asked if we wouldn’t mind showing up a little closer to 5:45. This happened to suit our plans, but I was mildly insulted by the suggestion. Although the request was phrased politely, the intent was obvious enough: “we’re trying to turn the table.” My feeling was that they offered a 6:00pm reservation, and they should stand by it: serving the next customer was their problem, not mine. Indeed, I was just faintly aware that the efficient service was perhaps too efficient (the appetizers arrived just moments after we ordered them).

None of this should take away from what Wallsé achieves, which is creative Austrian cuisine, prepared to near perfection. Appetizers are priced from $11-19, entrées from $26-35. All desserts are $9. We had a tough time deciding what to order, which may mean that we have to go back!

Wallsé (344 W. 11th Street at Washington Street, West Village)

Food: ***
Service: **
Ambiance: ***
Overall: ***

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