Friday, July 30, 2010

Ich liebe Grünauer

A couple of months ago, I received an email from JP's wine bar stating that they were featuring Austrian wines to highlight the opening of nearby Grünauer Austrian restaurant (which replaced City Tavern). I never did make it out for JP's specials, but I did go to Grünauer's website and decided it was worth a visit. Besides, Kansas City is essentially a complete void of continental European food, despite the number of German immigrants to this area; we've been wanting some German food for a while and figured Austrian was close enough.

We drank and dined in the Wunderbar, Grünauer's lounge, and had a fantastic time. Not only was the bar service inviting and personable, the food and drink were spectacular. For my pre-dinner drink, I got "Der Schmutzige" (the dirty one), which is "Black peppercorn and mustard seed infused Monopolowa vodka, Frank's Kraut Juice, beet brine and dill pickle water shaken with vigor and served up with a dill wedge." For someone who loves savory gin drinks, this was delectable. About 80% through, though, I have to admit that my palate was getting pretty tired from all of the goings-on in the beverage. Even still, it was very good; the flavors blended together well, and I appreciated the creativity.

For dinner, we ordered the Schweinebraten and Tafelspitz and enjoyed them both. The Schweinebraten (with dumplings! yum!) was just like I remembered in Germany, and maybe even a bit better. The Tafelspitz (sliced beef with broth & noodles) was surprisingly rich with depth and flavor without being greasy or too thin. We paired our dinner with a handful of Czech, German, and Austrian beers and thoroughly enjoyed our evening there.

After such a great initial visit, we returned this past Thursday night for dinner & drinks, including a comparison of draft versions of Bitburger and Czechvar (the latter of which I am becoming an avid fan) for BJCP "studying". They have several continental lagers on tap (Spaten Bock, Bitburger, Czechvar, Hofbrau, Carlsberg, Warsteiner) as well as a Kölsch and Hefeweizen, and about 7 or so Boulevard drafts. With about a dozen more beers in bottles, there's no lack of malty goodness to be enjoyed. It's inspiring to see dedication of an entire faucet tower to Boulevard, but I'd really encourage you to try some of the European drafts. They're quite different from the bottled versions since they're not light-struck, oxidized, or stale. If you've never had any of the aforementioned brands on draft, you owe it to yourself to have one.

photo from Grünauer's Facebook page
This time, we settled for more typical entrees - Berlinerwurst and Wiener Schnitzel. Both were, again, well-executed and reinforced our affinity for the place. And the service was, of course, friendly, attentive, and timely.

A mention of Grünauer wouldn't be complete without recognition of its huge selection of gin. It's got about 15 (or more?) different gins available for your enjoyment. Really! I check out the gin selection of every bar I go to, and this has to be the largest inventory I've ever seen.

Bottom line - Grünauer has several things going for it and I hope they're here to stay. The food is authentic and delicious, the cocktails are creative and well-executed, the liquor selection is well above par, the service is attentive, and they have a thoughtful beer selection that goes way beyond the typical Euro-lager. I hope you'll pay them a visit and enjoy this place as much as we do. 

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