By Karen Spezia
Are you ready to fly under the radar? To unearth that hidden gem still undiscovered by zealous foodies? Then head to Prelog’s, discretely tucked on downtown's fringe and serving captivating modern Austrian food.
What’s Austrian food? It’s a valid and often asked question. In a nutshell, it’s a smörgåsbord of European influences: German sprinkled with a little Italian, French, Hungarian, et al. Prelog’s gives it a modern update by using fresh seasonal ingredients and lightening up some traditionally hearty recipes.
We started with drinks at the congenial bar, a happy co-mingling of youthful office workers and middle-aged residents from the adjacent 360 Condos. Our proficient bartender suggested the Bowle, an Austrian version of sangria: diced fruit soaked in cognac and sugar, mixed in a punchbowl with white wine, then served over ice and topped with bubbly cava. Bright and refreshing, my husband liked it so much he ordered a second.
A family affair, Prelog’s is owned by husband-wife team Florian and Romana Prelog. Chef Florian’s father and grandfather were grocers in Austria and although his culinary schooling took place there, he’s spent most of his culinary career cooking around the globe, including Michelin starred restaurants like New York's Per Se, Hong Kong's Bo Innovation and England's The Duck Fat. The chef has even spent time on a few luxury cruise liners.
But Chef Prelog is more than a chef — he’s an artist. Intricately designed dishes are dotted with surprising colors and textures. Even the rote complimentary bread basket is elevated with the addition of assorted olives and a scoop of brilliant green herbed butter. The menu changes constantly with staples like ravioli, duck breast and pork belly given frequent updates depending on the season. Diners can order a la carte or indulge in a three or five course tasting menu.
To nibble with our cocktails, we started with the lip-smacking Pomme Neuf, lightly seasoned thick-cut French fries served hot and crispy with homemade aioli and ketchup. Next came a luxuriously creamy Parmesan risotto studded with duck confit, garden vegetables and herbs, and paired with a glass of sparkling Alsatian Lucien Albrecht. Tafelspitz, simple boiled meat considered the national dish of Austria, was reimagined with beef served two ways: tender sliced beef wrapped around a brioche dumpling, served beside cubes of silky tenderloin. Artfully prepared veggies and customary horseradish accompanied it, along with a glass of red Austrian Heinrich Blaufränkisch. Our meal concluded with a light and elegant cake layered with passion fruit and chocolate, complemented with a cordial of Lillet Blanc. The entire meal was sophisticated, creative, and delicious.
Open since March, Prelog’s has a comfortable urban vibe of flickering candles and hand-painted murals. Its open kitchen showcases the chef's handiwork and its shaded outdoor lounge along Shoal Creek is one of the loveliest in town. It’s a mystery why Prelog’s isn’t overrun with foodies yet. Perhaps it’s the off-the-beaten path location — or the unfamiliar Austrian cuisine? Whatever the reason, I sense it won’t be long before the word gets out and the foodie stampede begins.
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