The Watch Factory Restaurant

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Review – New York Times | Austrian Cuisine, Ready for Summer

AUSTRIAN restaurants, with their robust cuisine, don’t normally come to mind as good choices for summer dining. But Austria’s white wines — exquisitely refreshing in the warm weather — combined with lighter-than-usual fare make the Watch Factory Restaurant in Cheshire well worth a visit.

The restaurant is in a renovated 19th-century brick factory that once housed the Cheshire Watch Company, a manufacturer of low-cost watches. The chef and owner, Markus Patsch, cooked in his native Austria, as well as in Germany and South Africa, before immigrating to the United States in 1972 as the personal chef to the pianist Victor Borge.

His first restaurant in Connecticut, the Gourmet Table in Darien, has since closed, but the Watch Factory, his second, has been thriving for more than 15 years, and with good reason. Except for some oversalting during one of my two visits, and the occasional overly thickened cream sauce, the food was consistently very good, with some excellent surprises.


The wiener schnitzel — two large veal scallops (one may order pork or chicken instead) — was unusually tender, and finished with a very light, crisp coating of breading. Veal jager schnitzel (similarly breaded scallops, sauced with mushroom cream) was just as tender, but heavier.

Three plump veal-and-pork bratwurst were light-textured and tasty in a white wine cream sauce. An order of roast duck leg — two large legs in a pool of red wine sauce — was enormous, tender and very rich, but would have benefited from a lighter hand on the salt shaker.

Monkfish risks being tough in the wrong hands; here, the thick, roasted medallions, in garlic cream sauce, were meaty and yielding. The sautéed Atlantic sole, lightly browned in butter with an egg and flour coating, was mild-tasting, eggy, buttery and perfectly cooked.

All entrees were served with a choice of a wedge of potato pancake — crisp and golden outside, melting inside — or mashed potatoes. An addictive dish of braised cabbage with apple and onion, judiciously sweetened and spiced with cinnamon and clove, was served family style.

The restaurant also offers some nice starters. The beet salad, composed of large, smooth chunks of sweet, boiled beet, was molded into a cylinder shape, dressed with a mixture of honey, mustard and cider vinegar and garnished with a generous amount of Gorgonzola cheese. Large New Zealand mussels were blanketed in an appropriately assertive, if thick, mustard cream. The filling in the artichoke-shrimp crêpes was dry, but spaetzle was suitably tender, tossed with melted butter and an Austrian-produced Gruyère cheese and sprinkled with chives.

In a particularly delicious appetizer of zucchini fingers and Gorgonzola, the cheese and vegetable were sandwiched between layers of crisp, light house-made pastry and set in a pool of cream sauce.


Mr. Patsch is a fine pastry chef. The excellent apple strudel was Tyrolean-style, made with puff pastry in lieu of Viennese-style strudel dough. The light Black Forest cherry roulade was rolled with sweetened whipped cream and liqueur-soaked cherries. The chocolate mousse was dense and ultra-chocolatey, and the Austrian cheesecake unusually airy: ricotta in place of the traditional quark cheese, lightened with whipped cream and a rose-wine sabayon, bound with gelatin and sandwiched between two thin layers of soft, sweet sponge cake.

Review by STEPHANIE LYNESS, published on NYTIMES.COM – 07/15/11