By David Porat
Günter Seeger is new on Hudson Street with a very distinguished and somewhat mysterious façade. Its storefront piqued my curiosity on my way to High Street on Hudson, one of my current favorite places in the neighborhood. I entered the restaurant at about 6 pm on a Saturday before any guests arrived, and walked into a very elegant yet casual dining room with a completely open kitchen. I was welcomed, given
a tour and told that I had to book on line. Well I did for the next Saturday night and I was treated, or rather, I treated a very good customer to 4 hours and about 10 plus courses of a tasting dinner and wine pairings. They were all surprises, the food and wine, with the menu beautifully presented at the end.
Chef Seeger is of German descent but spent many years cooking in various places in Atlanta including his own restaurant, and was considered a trail blazer. He has now rooted himself in our neighborhood after a several year hiatus. His style is more contemporary and American than German but you see his Germanic background a bit in his precision, the wines and the furnishings; the German glassware is modern and exquisite. Pretty much the only way to
dine at the restaurant is to book “your experience” on Tock.com, a new website which focuses on high end dining experiences and helping restaurants market themselves. I know of other set dinners in other cities but I do not know another restaurant in NYC that does this exclusively. The original concept for a set menu is from Chez Panisse in Berkeley where only one slightly different and unique menu is served each night although they publish their mostly seasonal menu a week or so in advance. You do not know what you are going to get at Günter Seeger and
each course comes as a surprise but is graciously explained. The wine pairings happened in a similar way.
Dinner started with a Strawberry Gazpacho which was beautifully presented in some of the German glassware and it was a pleasant beginning. Next we had a Morel and Chanterelle Tart, garnished with some duck ham. After that we had Yellowfin Tuna, in a tartare preparation. Each of these three courses were expertly crafted and presented in an inspired way and I enjoyed them all but each could have used a little something to make it zing for me, or a flavor to make it stand out, or a bit of a different take on these “small plates.” Next we had a salad and then we had New Bedford Scallops, Smoked Scottish Sea Trout and First Potato Confit, and each of these did sing to me more. The ever so lightly smoked trout, which was cool and complemented by a Horseradish Apple Broth, played the warm rich flavor with the contrast of the cool delicate fish and excited me and my guest. First Potato Confit was a fancy rich plate of mashed and small smashed potatoes dusted generously with black truffle, which could make a simple man and a not so simple person very happy.
The “main course” was Five Spice Squab, followed by Sweet Grass Dairy Cheeses from Georgia and dark bread from High Street on Hudson, a few storefronts away. Chef Seeger did say that they were going to make their own bread but realized their neighbor’s freshly baked bread is so good, why not share that, and it was. Dessert came in two courses, Kumquat Soup and a Blueberry Pancake with a Vanilla Sauce.
The wines which were poured were mainly whites. There was only one red amongst the 7 wines and it was the only French one. The whites were mostly dry and showed a good bit of prowess in German Wines, and were a treat, generously explained. The wine pairing is $150 a person and the tasting dinner that we had was $185 a person, (a slightly simpler one and a chef’s table more elaborate one are available as well) hospitality or tip included. Dinner at Günter Seeger is an extravagance which was completely enjoyable, but I found the food at times did not wow me as much as I would have liked, although the wines did. It has only been open a few weeks and I look forward to going back after a bit of time to see how it matures. Better yet, next time I hope to be “taken” there.
641 Hudson Street just north of Horiato