First Impressions: Schilling

Back story: Austrian chef Eduard Frauneder has been on a tear in recent years, opening Edi & the Wolf and the Third Man in the East Village, Freud in the central Village, and most recently, Schilling in the no man’s land south of the World Trade Center. (There was also Seasonal in Midtown, which has closed.)

The atmosphere: What you see upon entering Schilling is what you get: a rectangle of a room with a long communal table in the center, a bar in the back, and rustic knickknacks lining the sides. In a nice touch, the storefront is a garage door that’s opened in fine weather.

The menu: The menu is New American with a few Austrian touches—spätzle, schnitzel, strudel—and it’s interchangeable with what you’d find at Freud and Edi & the Wolf. During two meals at Schilling, my companions and I tried the wiener schnitzel (below), tagliatelle, spätzle, lamb shoulder, charred artichokes, and the fried Brussels sprouts.

Gold star: Sit-down restaurants in FiDi tend to be pubby and/or soulless; refreshingly, Schilling is neither. It feels like somewhere that could exist in another, livelier neighborhood. As for the food, both times it was far better than anyone who has eaten widely in FiDi would expect. (Yes, I’m grading on a curve.)

Room for improvement: You walk in to find yourself looming over diners on either side, with no clear indication of where you’re supposed to go. The bigger concern is the heaviness of the food. Even the spätzle was among the richest vegetarian dishes I’ve encountered outside of a fondue pot. (Below: the tagliatelle.) Perhaps in summer, things lighten up.

Anything else: I need someone to explain the sign in the restroom that says, “If you’re a bird, I’m a bird.”

Contact: Schilling is at 109 Washington (bet. Carlisle and Rector); 212-406-1200; schillingnyc.com.

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