You've probably already heard good things about this newish, tinyish, cheapish spot... but you might as well get used to it. For a certain mood, and a certain type of food—cured meats, various wursts, all veggies pickled—Cafe Katja dead-on hits the spot. A couple of nights ago I had a hankering for sausages and such, and couldn't have asked for a more satisfying dining experience, the Austrian comfort food matched in its simple appeal by the cafe's friendly, neighborhoody atmosphere.
I began with a (very early) candidate for shareable starter of the year, a heaping Aufschnitt Teller, which included two types of speck (one similar to prosciutto, the other more like bacon); two salamis; several slices of a beautiful blood sausage, studded with fat; an intense, creamy, garlicky mound of Liptauer cheese; a hunk of gamey liverwurst; a "salad" of pickled vegetables; and a pile of chewy, buttery slices of dark rye. Basically: a ton of delicious snacks, and plenty for two, or three, but all of which I somehow managed to finish by myself.
Every restaurant in town seems to serve a Beet Salad these days, and Cafe Katja is no exception. I thought the addition of caraway seeds might differentiate this version, but, honestly, this is just another well-executed take (lots of goat cheese on vinegary sweet beets and frisee for crunch) on a dish that's tough to prepare poorly. Finally, I wolfed an excellent, juicy Bratwurst on a mountain of heavily pickled sauerkraut and sweet mustard.
Cafe Katja is located on Orchard Street between Broome and Grand. I showed up at around 6:30 on a Tuesday and got a table right away, but there aren't many seats here, and I bet it gets crowded.