This past weekend I had the great fun of meeting up with some of my personal chef friends at Seneca Lake again. It was a smaller group this time, and we met for lunch on Saturday.
We ate at Dano’s Heuriger on the east side of Seneca lake. A heuriger is like a small tavern in Austria or Vienna. They serve only a special local wine, that year’s vintage only, and simple foods served family style. I’ve been to Dano’s Heuriger before with Laura, and really enjoyed it. I tend to eat Mediterranean, Asian or classic American fare when I eat out, but Dano’s is very different and delicious from what we normally find around here. I do have German heritage in my pedigree, and this lunch was cause to embrace that!
Because we had a larger party, we were able to order a tasting menu called “The Chef’s Table” in order to sample many items. I think we were all surprised by the number of plates that were presented and the amount of food we consumed in our 3 hour lunch. That is right folks! 3 hours!
And yes it was due to the service, but I mean that in only the best possible way. We were allowed to sample and savor each course, drink our wine, chat and laugh, and never once were we hurried along. The staff was so welcoming and showed the greatest hospitality, it was a great place for our crew to meet!
At Dano’s most of the dishes are very simple, beginning with spreads and salads. There are at least 8 different spreads to choose from, served with a basket of fresh crusty breads, and 9-10 different types of salad. A selection of spreads and salads along with some great wine is a meal in itself! We began with Liptauer spread (an Austrian house specialty which is made with Liptauer cheese, paprika and other spices), a Hotel Sacher spread, and a Pumpkin seed oil spread (which is my favorite!) Each of the spreads is similar to cream cheese in it’s consistency and you schmear them on the delicious bread. Oh my, very addicting!
We were also served four of their salads including Large Bean, Celery Root Remoulade, Salsify, and a fresh Corn salad. The Large Bean is made with buttery butter beans in a light sweet and sour vinaigrette. It is by far my favorite here. The corn salad was very fresh and lightly seasoned. The celery root remoulade is crispy and creamy and the salsify salad is very unique. The salsify is very tender and mixed in with a creamy dressing as well. (Salsify is a root vegetable that is said to taste similar to oysters.)
We all sipped the heuriger wine ( a fresh wine, not aged) Berger Gruner Veltliner which is served in mugs instead of wine glasses.
Our main dishes and sides were plentiful. We were served some of the house made charcuterie including bratwurst, knockwurst and smoked Hungarian sausages, the country pate, and the Heuriger Eggplant. The sausuages were delicious, not too fatty, very flavorful and fresh. I am not usually a huge fan of pate ( I have a thing about offal~better known as innards…) , but had to admit it was tasty. We also had a vegetarian plate which was eggplant and tomatoes. I didn’t care for this dish as the tomatoes were very sweet, and as an Italian, it was just not right to my palate. Tomatoes should be a bit tart!
Our main courses included a succulent pork shank, and a piece of roast pork, a half of a small roast chicken and Wiener Schnitzel. Each was delicious, but my personal favorites were the pork shank meat that just fell off the bone, and the Wiener Schnitzel which was so crispy and tender. YUM!
The dishes were made so much better by the spectacular sides that accompanied them! We were treated to silky mashed potatoes, house-made spatzle, sauerkraut and braised red cabbage. Again, not a huge fan of sauerkraut (bad memories of the smell when I got home from school when mom made it as a kid~ sorry mom) I was assured by the kraut lovers in the group that it was fabulous, especially when eaten with the mashed potatoes and pork! I loved the braised red cabbage, and will admit I have never had it before, but will definitely be serving it to my family. Soft and just a bit sweet, maybe cider? Whatever it was it was tasty! The spatzle were also a treat that I haven’t had since I was a kid. I don’t know why I never make them as they are simple, and I’ll be making them soon too!
We ate and we ate and we ate some more, enjoying every last bite and still had a nice package of leftovers that I was delighted to bring home with me so my family could taste it all! We were so full that we couldn’t even think about any of the wonderful desserts (which for me is a rarity!) but the bread pudding that the next table over sure looked good… It’ll have to wait until next time I guess!
And here we are outside of Dano’s with a beautiful view of Seneca Lake behind us! We were fat and happy to be sure~ it was a great afternoon! Thanks Dano and crew for a memorable meal and a pleasurable afternoon! I’ll be back!
Visit Dano’s website for more information!