Oktoberfest has been over for quite sometime now, but that's never stopped us from enjoying good German beer and sausages. Which is exactly how we wound up at Austrian newcomer Cafe Katja last night. There's also something to be said for such hearty meat-laden fare as the mercury drops. And judging by how crowded the small dining room was when we left, a lot of New Yorkers felt the same way last night. While waiting for our dinner companions we had a gargantuan mug of Hofbräu Dunkel, a smooth easy drinking German dark beer. Perusing the menu revealed not only the usual suspects of liverwurst and sausage, but also the owners' loopy sense of humor. The glossary defines doppelbock, the sweet, strong übermalty beer as well as doppelganger.
The glossary also lists liptauer, a cheese spread with paprika, onion chives and cornichons. Gothamist defines liptauer as the Teutonic equivalent of the American South's much loved pimento cheese. The light textured orange spread accompanies Cafe Katja's Aufschnitt Teller, an assorted meat platter featuring a wonderful liverwurst and a top notch speck. If there's not enough fat in the white ribboned pink strips of cured pork belly you can always smear some butter on your toast. A German dining companion told us that many Germans wouldn't even consider eating speck or salami without a goodlly schmear of butter. Perhaps it was the dunkel talking, but for a solid two minutes none us could figure out whether the beige disks on the cheese plate were slices of pear or cheese. One taste revealed them to be handkaese, a hand-formed soft cow's cheese, with a distinct funky, though not at all unpleasant flavor. Speaking of cheese, we also had the Bernerwürstel, a hot dog split open, stuffed with cheese, and then wrapped in bacon. Thinking of this dish along with that pimento-cheese like spread made us wonder whether Austria has its own version of NASCAR racing.
Cafe Katja, 79 Orchard St., 212-219-9545