Musings by Leah Jorgensen

In Love with Grüner

österreichische Küche – Austrian Cuisine.  That you want to date.

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I was long over-due for this romantic introduction.  We didn’t meet online.  Actually, a friend introduced us.   And, I had heard a lot of positive things.  I put on a cute outfit and eagerly drove to meet my hot date.  Yes, I would date Grüner.  I would flippin’ marry Grüner.  However, this Grüner isn’t on the market.  But, it’s a love fest for anyone who wants to stop by.   

Grüner is cozy Alpine cuisine.   Imagined by Portland darling chef Christopher Israel, Grüner was inspired by a lifetime of wanderlust and epicurean curiosity, drawing on the affinity between the geographies of the Pacific Northwest and the alpine regions of northern Europe.

I still want to date it.

Okay, I am about an eighth Austrian.  Perhaps a little more.  My great grandfather was from South Burgenland, and it’s been told that he was a cooper of wine barrels and also built beautiful, ornate carriages.   I am very proud of that fraction of my heritage.  I love Austrian wine and have enjoyed both Austrian and German food growing up on the east coast.  Lots of spätzle (which means “little sparrow” – how cute!), weiswurst, bratwurst, sauerkraut, pork chops, schnitzel and so on.

Now that I am gluten-free, it’s a bit of a challenge to navigate my way through a Germanic menu.  Or, so I thought.

At  Grüner, there is indeed something for everyone.  And, it’s wonderful.

Interestingly enough, I didn’t even step inside the restaurant.  So, I do need to return for a second date.  Meantime, my friend and I grabbed a picnic table outside for a charming late alfresco dining experience.

I started off with a refreshing glass of Zweigelt rosé.   Zweigelt is a red wine grape variety developed in 1922, at the Federal Institute for Viticulture and Pomology at Klosterneuburg, Austria, by Fritz Zweigelt.  It was a crossing of Blaufränkisch and St. Laurent.  It is now the most widely-grown red grape variety in Austria.

My friend and I ordered a few snacks to begin:  roasted pumpkin seeds and an order of beet-pickled hard boiled eggs.
Yummy beet-pickled hard-boiled eggs

I then ordered a glass of the Zweigelt Nittnaus, Neusiedlersee, AT 2007.  Again, when in Rome (or Austria).  I was in the mood for red because it was a cool night out.  I was equally interested in having a glass of the Grüner Veltliner, Forstreiter, Kogl, Kremstal, AT 2008. 

I then selected the house made sausages – bratwurst and saucisson – with sauerkraut, yukon gold potatoes and sweet mustard.

Of course, they got it right.  This is comfort food at its best.  Rich flavors, quality meat, tangy kraut.   Precision as you would expect from a German or Austrian.  I only wish my parents were visiting sooner.  They used to live in Germany and truly love this Alpine cuisine.   Grüner is the kind of eatery you want to show off to well-travelled and well-fed kin.

527 SW 12th Avenue
Portland, Oregon


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