Similar to Tim Raue I didn’t know what to expect with this one except I hadn’t seen the hype from Netflix so I guess I wasn’t really expecting much. I don’t know a whole lot about Austrian cuisine except schnitzel which has never been a favourite of mine thanks to mum and dad always referring to it as dog meat. A story from their uni days where the place they ate schnitzel was surrounded by dogs.
Anyhow, we arrive a little-flustered having decided to walk there and then getting lost in the park that the restaurant is situated in. It would be cool if they gave directions in the park however in hindsight it wasn’t really that hard to find. We’re promptly greeted and taken to our table. Cold towels are offered and an absolute blessing after a hot walk down. I think they could tell we were a little warm.
Soon after a trolley comes over offering an aperitif, Austrian sparkling wine, champagne, beer, juice etc. As we’ve been living large we stick with the wine list and get a reasonably priced sparkling wine. We’re given our menus and they’re ridiculously large once again. There’s no music in the dining room which is starting to become a bit of a theme with these restaurants. I’m impressed that they’ve printed their staff members names on the inside of the menu!
This restaurant makes the use of trolleys to the max which I actually quite like after seeing some of the things some waiters can lift, there’s the drinks trolley, the bread trolley, the cheese trolley etc. It’s nicer for the service staff and I like that. We’re offered a choice of wine glasses for our wine and opt for the Zalto glasses as they’re becoming a favourite.
I can hear children playing in the park. There are pretty flowers and nice non-intrusive service. The design is clever, thoughtful and modern. There are waiter stations on every table, the flowers match the coasters which match the draws used to bring out cutlery. I deeply appreciate this.
Then we have the bread trolley come out. This is impressive. It has about 18, give or take, different kinds of bread and it’s almost impossible to choose. We go with bacon bread, olive, olive and tomato, black pudding and classic sourdough. This is served with a half and half ball of butter that has a sour cream butter on the right and a mushroom butter on the left. Oh and the powdered salt that we’re both really not too sure about.
This is followed by a selection of snacks. To be honest none of them hit the spot and left us wondering if this was just the beginning? The standout was the soup but at the same time, it wasn’t a standout. Not off to a great start.
We’d heard thanks to The World’s 50 Best that the Char with Beeswax, Yellow Carrot, ‘Pollen’ and Sour Cream was the dish to have so of course we did. It comes out on a honeycomb tray and the beeswax at 80-90 degrees is poured over to set. This is an impressive dish and an interesting style of cooking. It’s then cracked open before going back to the kitchen to plate. This dish is probably my favourite of the afternoon, the beeswax shines through with real honey notes throughout the entire dish.
With each course, we’re given an info card which tells us more detail about the dishes and includes an interesting fact about the food. Following the Char, we have the Wild Boar’s Head with ‘Purple Haze’ Carrots, Pineapple, Tardivo Radicchio and Buckwheat. The mustard on this is quite strong and overpowering however we are in Austria. There’s a nice crunch from the buckwheat providing a good texture, however, the flavours were just a little off balance for both of us.
Between courses we are offered more bread from the trolley which we accept, sadly no extra butter comes with this. Our second favourite dish of the afternoon is the ‘Pearlfish’ with Tomato-Peppers, Sweet Potatoes and Green Almonds. It’s sweet and soft and I welcome the honeydew flavours. Finance enjoyed the fish stomach and sweet potato cream. Overall a pleasant dish.
Wanting to try some authentic Austrian dishes we went for the Gulash from Alpine Beef with Leek-Bread Roulade and Pickled Vegetables. This is not to be compared with the Hungarian Gulash we’re informed by our waiter. This is excellently braised with nice pops of freshness from the pickled peppers. Deep in flavour and a comforting, hearty dish.
While in between courses we notice there are numbers on our information cards, we ask the waiter about this and it refers to the number of the dish. They’ve been creating since 2005, so, for example, the Gulash is the 97th dish created. The Char is 1,071. We also notice the dice on the service trays, this is used to let the service staff know who the dish is for so they don’t have to keep asking when they come to your table.
Our first ‘main’ course is the Milk-Fed Veal Shoulder with Golden Beets, Sugar Peas and White Onion. It has a very Austrian flair and while the garnishes are nice it didn’t really entertain our senses. We also have the Beef Short Rib with Chinese Cabbage, Purple Salsify and Horseradish. The Chinese saying “You eat with your eyes first, then your nose, then your mouth” applies well to this dish. It just didn’t look, nor did it taste appetising.
Feeling underwhelmed from our mains we are then overwhelmed by an expansive cheese selection. There would have been 40+ cheeses to choose from with a variety of different animals and textures. It was almost like cheese roulette, the server was quite helpful in providing suggestions for our choices. This was served with more bread which was appreciated.
Our final chosen dessert was the Chocolate-Lingonberry Souffle with Gin Cornel Cherries and Fennel Pollen. Again a disappointing dish. The fennel sorbet didn’t really work well with the souffle and the souffle itself was not cooked as you’d expect with it only rising millimetres above the ramekin mould. It was dense and oily, perhaps this is how they do souffle in Austria?
To wrap up our afternoon we are given a selection of rhubarb textures as our dessert snacks and offered coffee etc. Once again this was missing the punch and underwhelming. Overall we left wondering if we’d perhaps got the kitchen on a bad day? At the number 10 restaurant in the world though I wouldn’t expect them to have any bad days.
- Tim Raue
- Piazza Duomo
- The Ledbury
- The Clove Club
- Dinner by Heston
- Restaurant Steirereck
Next up Le Calandre, Rubano, Italy.