Note: Klee Brasserie was supposed to have closed in July 2011, to make way for an Austrian wine tavern, or heuriger, operated by the same husband–wife team. Instead, they sold the restaurant and will be opening a new, currently unnamed project elsewhere.
Klee Brasserie (the first word is pronounced “Clay”) opened late last year in West Chelsea. Many of the dishes, like Chef and co-owner Daniel Angerer, hail from Austria. But Angerer has gotten around, working for Joël Robuchon, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, David Bouley, and others. The restaurant is not purely Austrian, but draws its influences from just about everywhere.
The interior make-over is lovely. If only the food were more appealing. Black Bean Soup ($8) was more like bean-flavored water: it had practically no texture, and was over-salted. Swordfish Steak ($26) was dominated by barbecue sauce. Good thing too, as the fish itself was both ropey and cold. The bed of spinach was the best thing about the dish, but you don’t pay $26 for spinach.
My girlfriend ordered the Lamb Shank ($23). She was surprised to find that it didn’t come with any shank. It seemed more like Lamb Osso Buco without the bone. That said, there was nothing else objectionable about it.
I didn’t note the description of the palate cleanser (pictured right, absurdly out-of-scale), but it was better than either of the dishes I paid for.
The wine list was a definite asset, with a nice list of half-bottles available. We didn’t want to drink much, so we had a nice half-bottle of Châteauneuf-du-Pape at just $27. The bread service was an asset too, with three warm home-made slices served on a warm stone, with a small jar of soft butter, probably also home-made.
Service was mostly okay, but we had a seriously annoying waiter. His leering comment as he dropped off the dessert menus, “Now, let me lead you into temptation,” was typical. It also took him something like ten minutes to uncork the wine, a task that I shouldn’t have thought was that difficult.
Klee hasn’t had many reviews. In a blog preview in the restaurant’s early days, Frank Bruni also found the swordfish cold, so apparently they haven’t solved that particular problem.
This was a restaurant I wanted to like, but it was merely humdrum.
Klee Brasserie (200 Ninth Avenue between 22nd & 23rd Streets, Chelsea)