Wallse (West Village) Review
First Chowhound Review-here we go.
Wallse is an Austrian (I'd say Austrian-inspired) restaurant in the West Village. It's fairly small, unpretentious, even though huge painting of the chef might bother some. The staff was fantastic, paid very close attention while keeping it fairly casual; altogether very pleasant.
We both opted for the 6-course (choose your own dishes) tasting for $98. Our waitress warned us about the 6-course tasting being a lot of food (there is also a 4-course option), but we wanted to try more things.
First Course: Cold Melon Soup with Lobster. While a tiny bit on the sweet side, the soup was refreshing, the lobster was fresh and flavorful, and the dish was way larger than a tasting portion (this is a trend you will recognize). 8/10
Second Course: I had the Potato Ravioli and my dining partner had the Fois Gras. These were the only tasting size portions of the meal, and both wonderful. I'd say the Fois Gras was the lowest point of the meal, while perfectly prepared and presented, just nothing too special. 6.5/10
Third Course: We had the Halibut with Cucumber + Dill sauce and Chanterelles. The fish was fresh and prepared correctly, and went perfectly with the bright green sauce that symbolizes the chef's "I'll do what I want" attitude. The sauce was as green as paint and very strong in flavor. It seems intimidating at first, but this chef knows what he's doing. Also, I should mention that at any other fine dining spot, this would be an a la carte portion.9/10
Fourth Course: Olive poached Wild Striped Bass, topped with a (light) sweet pepper sauce, over a bed of mashed potatos. This was probably my favorite course of the night. The bass was prepared perfectly, the sweet peppers were a delicious complement, and the mash was nice to see in a restuarant like this. Also, I should mention again, not a tasting portion. 10/10
Fifth Course: Duck breast with onion-apricot chutney and black rice. This was, thankfully, not as large as the other portions (because we didn't eat the rice), but being duck breast, it was fairly heavy. The duck was prepared perfectly and the onion-apricot chutney was light but bold in flavor. The rice, while tasty, did not go well with the dish at all and seemed out of place. No complaints, because I couldn't have finished it anyway! 8.5/10
Sixth Course: I ate the Apricot strudel and my dining partner the Salzburger Nockerl. I'm usually not big on deserts, but I figured I'd go for a desert even before entering the restaurant, knowing that their cheese plate was a bit uninspired. During dinner, I saw 3 other deserts at nearby tables, and I knew I couldn't miss out. I'll make myself clear, if I had the 6-course menu again, I'd finish with at least two deserts. 10/10 (Also, the deserts were the same size as the al a carte versions.)
So, in conclusion... I loved Wallse and it was the happiest dining experience I've had in a while. The tasting portions were about 3/5 the size of their al a carte portions. The food was all fantastic, I would definitely eat through the entire fish menu in one tasting if I had the craving. While the Fois was somewhat uninspired, and the black rice didn't match the duck, I probably wouldn't have mentioned it had the other dishes not been so perfect. The deserts are all unique and creative, while sticking to Austrian roots more so than the rest of the menu.
The 6-course is great to try many things on the menu, but make sure you are hungry enough for it. Wallse is my new standard for best value fine dining in the city. It doesn't try to be too experimental or flashy or complex in its dishes, and I think that is to its advantage here. Next time, I'd probably go with the 4-course with the heavier dishes. I highly recommend this restaurant to anyone who hasn't been (or hasn't been in a while) because this one, won't disappoint.
344 W. 11th St., New York, NY 10014
i went to wallse in march with my father for the first time. i agree about the foie terrine...it was also served way too cold and it collapsed and crumbled quite a bit. my father's venison was expertly cooked but quite underseasoned and rather bland. i remember having some lobster entree which was good but obviously not particularly memorable.
i enjoyed dinner quite a bit but the food was not the high point for me. i know that kurt is expert at cooking seafood from his bouley days and i intend to go back in the fall/winter.
As the menu changes really frequently, they did not have either the lobster or the venison, and venison being my favorite meal, I'd love to go there later in the year when it is in season again to try it. Nothing was bland or underseasoned this time around though, but you are right, the fois terrine is a disappointment.