December 25, 2006 | Insatiable Critic

Klee Brasserie

        Marinate an Austrian in the culture of New York eating for a while and don’t be surprised if he comes up with a menu like chef Daniel Angerer’s (ex of Fresh) at his new Klee Brasserie. Porcini-mushroom chowder and paella à la Valenciana ride alongside weiner schnitzel, Viennese fried chicken, and Sacher torte in a surprisingly appealing hodgepodge. Our fussy sixsome is wowed by vibrant char tartare with its small pitcher of lime vinaigrette, a crackling-crisp Alsatian pizza with pork lardons and crème fraîche, and the unusual pork tonnato. This could be the thickest swordfish steak I’ve ever seen, and, even better, it’s exceptionally fresh and impeccably rare, the way I like it, a miracle in my book. The night’s special linguine with goatfish, cherry tomatoes, and olives tastes like summer in Sicily. That mushroom chowder, blue-cheese-laced romaine-and-lollo-rosso salad, Rioja-poached lamb shank, and Wagyu hanger steak are all quite good. Sadly, the chicken has dried out in the oven. Still, Klee (“clover” in German) glows with the warm welcome of co-owner Lori Mason (though not enough to kill the chill at tables near the door on an icy night). It’s a small, unassuming spot with bare brick, light wood, and a cheery tile mosaic fronting the wood-burning oven, refreshingly laid-back. But prices - starters $8 to $14, entrées $16 to $33 - could be a little less assuming for the neighborhood.

200 Ninth Ave. nr. 22nd St. 212 633 8033

Patina Restaurant Group