A dad and his daughters, loving life in New York City

Thursday, January 17

Cafe Katja

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.

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