Continuing my European culinary journey which started in London, my next stop was Vienna, Austria to visit some friends and experience the city. And, of course, to eat at their local temple to gastronomy. Theirs is located in the center of town in the middle of Stadtpark. It has plenty of outdoor seating, which was a first for me in these kind of places. Its name is Steirereck.
Dining Fine In The Heart Of Vienna
Location: Vienna, Austria
Michelin stars: two
50 Best ranking: 22
Steirereck is run by chef-owner Heinz Reitbauer, which opened in 1996. This year it won the first ever Slow Food UK Award at the San Pellegrino 50 Best awards. According to the website the award is “given to the restaurant within this year’s ‘50 Best’ list which embraces concepts of sustainability and promoting edible biodiversity with an outstanding commitment to small producers and the environment.”
I emailed them for reservations from the States and snagged them with no problem. They do prefer jackets be worn, but they aren’t required. Just look nice, I suppose. When we arrived they were surprised we had three in our party as they were expecting two. This irked me, because, well, this is a Michelin starred restaurant. Things you usually blow off in other places don’t fly in this world. You’re paying a chunk of change and expect things to be taken care of accordingly. That said, I blew it off.
The menu is seven courses long, from which you choose one of two choices for each course. We made our choices, ordered our meal, and dug in.
But first, we were brought things that weren’t on the menu.
They also brought by another course of carrot slivers we picked up off special plateware and ate. Could it be that they were treating us because of…me? Could Jet City Gastrophysics be considered something important, and my friends and I were being taken as VIP? Then we noticed something printed on the tablecloth:
“Alles Gute zum Geburtstag”. In English, ‘Happy Birthday!”. OK. Well, none of us were having a birthday. Then I understood why they were surprised there were three of us. They had confused us with another reservation. Oops. Well, it worked in our favor, so who am I to knock them for it? Ahem.
Onto the main courses. I probably would have forgotten which was which but they give you little cards with each course (seen in the picture above) so you know what you’re having. Here are my fuzzy phone pics to entertain you:
We had to try this dish. Why? Because the tree spinach was grown on the rooftop of the restaurant! Eat local, I say.
This dish was truly classic. After eating at a bunch of these places, I’ve discovered there is a distinct flavor profile to some courses at Michelin starred restaurants. I can’t really put into words what it is. It’s not overly salty, not spicy at all – a rich savory flavor with a touch of sweet maybe? I’m not sure but eating this was like “Oh, OK – here it is. The ‘Michelin’ tasting course”.
This was my favorite course. It had this bizarre foam texture with a little bit of crunch. It wasn’t overly sweet. It was good eating.
As a final course, they brought out a selection of chocolates – made up like a jewelry display. Very clever.
Finally, some coffee to end the evening.
Bread and Cheese
They also had bread and cheese carts.
Ah – Viennese bread is so good!! Wasn’t something I was expecting, and it was a delicious surprise.
Their presentation of the butter was also pretty cool as well, with three different types to choose from.
Being avant-garde, they extended that into other parts of their restaurant as well. To keep the silverware off of the tablecloth, they used little metal bars.
The spoon had a nice divot in it so you can scrape up the sauce on your plate with ease.
Some of the silverware was just plain cool.
Even the flower on the table had a twist to it.
But the craziest touch? It had to be the bathrooms. Whereas the dining room is very posh and nice, the bathrooms were bright and bold and whismical.
Check out this setup. Water would pour when you put your hands in the sink. You’d put your hands in the “flower” on the left to get soap, then throw your used paper towels from the right into the container on the lower left. A hand washing garden. Bizarre. And very entertaining.
And if you think I’m going to end a review of a Michelin starred restaurant with a look at their bathroom, you would be correct. Cheers!