Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Vienna, Steirereck Restaurant

I have been lucky enough to go to some exciting cities to visit some industry conference in the past 4 years. This year I have had the pleasure of visiting Vienna. A cursory search for places to eat and drink gave a definite response. It seemed we had to visit Steirereck restaurant in the Stadtpark. A 2 Michelin starred establishment and number 21 in the San Pellegrino top 50 Best Restaurants, it certainly has good credentials.

The tasting menu was an excellent showcase of local ingredients and modern technique. Unusually there is a choice for every course in the 6 or 7 course tasting menu and if you choose the 6 course you can omit any course you like from the 7 listed. This kind of flexibility brings the feeling of control you get from A La Carte but still with the exciting trip through the skills of the kitchen that comes from a multi-course tasting menu. Each delicate dish arrived with a small card listing all of its components. This is an excellent idea that I think all restaurants of this kind should copy. It is often the case that without the menu in front of you, it is easy to forget what course you picked for number 4 or 5 let alone what the red sauce is that has been artfully smeared across your plate. With these cards, each with a 3 digit number referring I presume to it's placement in the history of the restaurant's dishes, you can refer back to this construction and for me this really added to the enjoyment and understanding of the food. Others may think that this encourages the food fetishism that occurs in restaurants like this, but for us (and I am guessing the establishment itself) this kind of meal is all about the food. I am glad that I don't live in Vienna because the numbering system appeals to the completist in me and I think I would have to embark on a long mission to collect all the numbers, much like an expensive Panini football sticker collection.

I wish I could show you some beautiful photography from the meal but as is often the case I didn't feel comfortable photographing in this kind of intimate environment and the lighting was dim so Iphone snapping was would not have done justice to the food. There were a number of highlights for me incuding "Oysters", a clever play on the shellfish and the morsel of tender flesh usually enjoyed by the roast chicken carver while divvying up the rest of the meat. There was also an excellent marmalade icecream that came with my dessert, I could have eaten a whole bowl of this.

Another reason I had so much pleasure with this menu was the almost excessive celebration of mushrooms throughout the evening. Highlighting the menu's seasonal approach, no less than 5 of the courses between us had wild mushrooms of some kind. Trompettes de la mort, chanterelle, cepes and the medley of different small varieties that garnished the venison dish we had meant that this was true fungi celebration. It is a very good thing that I love mushrooms because I ate a lot that night from Claire's plate as well as my own.

So to summarise, an excellent evening of food with Austrian wine to match every course, lovely relaxing decor and service and some surreally disorientating toilet facilities mean that Steirereck truely deserves is reputation as the best restaurant in Vienna. I think it rivals the best in London and New York.

I popped back to the attached cafe Meierei for breakfast this morning. And a brief post describing this will follow soon.

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