Based on a preliminary Google, or scan of the menu online, you might get the wrong idea about Koloman. A high-end, French/Austrian restaurant with turn-of-the-century influences, from a classically-trained “serious” chef, in a hotel? Sounds boring. But Koloman isn’t your garden variety stuffy, over-priced restaurant.
Located in the old Breslin space in the Ace Hotel, Koloman takes the kind of food you’d expect to find at a fancy hotel in Europe, gives it a 21st-century makeover, and then serves it all up in a surprisingly casual setting. And all of that food is excellent.
Eating Koloman’s food feels a bit like being wrapped in a fur blanket. There’s a cheese soufflé that’s at once so light and so rich it will help you understand why soufflés were all the rage for literal centuries. When the roast chicken for two arrives with a side of buttery spaetzle, it will only take a few bites before you’re texting the group chat about it.
Most of the dishes seem straightforward, until they hit your table. An appetizer simply called “boeuf” is actually a golden tower filled with tea party-style food made entirely of beef bits. The salmon en croute, usually served as a beige brick of pastry-wrapped fish, looks like it was plated by an AI bot that was trained on the MoMA permanent collection and a culinary school textbook. The crème brûlée is made with duck egg, and it will make you swear off any custard made with boring old chicken eggs.
The space feels more like a pub than a place where you’d spend $84 on roast chicken, but the juxtaposition works. The dining room is full of cozy nooks, so you can actually hold a conversation with your friends. And this isn’t a restaurant that requires an outfit—show up in the same clothes you wore while staring blankly at your laptop on the couch before dinner, or in whatever you’d wear to your date’s apartment after.
You can have a special occasion dinner here, but what makes it special isn’t a glitzy space or suit-clad servers hovering while you choose a wine (the sommelier comes from Le Bernardin, so let her take that decision out of your hands). It’s the fact that you can eat food that feels luxurious enough to be served in a palace in a place that feels like a cafe you stumbled into for a beer. It’s rare that you could celebrate an anniversary or simply making it through another Wednesday at the same restaurant, but Koloman is uniquely suited to either moment. That’s exactly why we love it.
The gougères at Koloman are made with Austrian alpine cheese and infused with red wine, giving them a tangier, more intense flavor than your typical puffed cheesy bread.
A tower of beef served three ways. At the top, you’ll get a little puck of steak tartare. In the middle, a cube of tongue jelly. At the bottom, a pair of oxtail croquettes you’ll wish came in a larger serving size. Don’t try to share this between more than two people.
Celery Root Tartare
It might seem impossible for a tartare made from celery root to taste even better than the steak tartare that comes as part of the boeuf appetizer, but facts are facts.
Duck Liver Parfait
Gilding the lily is definitely a thing here, and that’s probably why the duck liver parfait is served alongside a Texas Toast-sized slice of brioche. It’s too much in all the right ways.
There’s already a ton of flavor packed into this steaming pillow of a dish before you add the accompanying mushroom jam: this might be what Lumière was referencing when he sang, “try the gray stuff, it’s delicious.”
Any Austrian restaurant worth its salt is going to have great schnitzel, and that’s no exception here. It’s thin and very crisp, served with a handful of accompaniments. Our only complaint is that, as a mid-course, it’s quite small. On the flip side, this means you don’t have to sacrifice a main to eat this.
Salmon en Croute
Arguably the most show-stopping dish on the menu, this is not your grandma’s salmon en croute. It’s served in two bisected batons, and instead of a clunky pastry crust, it’s neatly pressed between two slices of toast.
Marrow-crusted beef tenderloin is not a new idea, but Koloman’s take on a steak main is full of little surprises. There’s the meat itself, which is so tender you could cut it with a butter knife, and it's served with stacks of pancakes made from potatoes done up like tiny layer cakes.
What makes this chicken different from all other roast chickens is not merely the expert preparation, or the delightful braised cabbage and buttered spaetzle sides. It’s the fact that this heritage breed chicken is raised to a ripe old age of 90-120 days, allowing it to develop a stronger flavor. It’s the kind of dish that will turn you into the kind of person who cares about the breed of chicken they’re eating.
It’s probably illegal for an Austrian restaurant not to serve an apple strudel, so it’s a good thing that Koloman serves the best one in NYC. It’s more refined than some other great strudels in the five boroughs, with thinner pastry and more intensely apple-y apples that still have the texture of fruit and not pie filling.
The extreme richness of the duck egg-laced custard is cut perfectly by the dollop of caramelized pineapple and pineapple mint on top. You’ll think it’s just a garnish at first, but this little bit of tropical fruit changes the flavor of the dish with every bite.