Review: Restaurant Steirereck, Vienna

 

 

 

 

Vienna hosts some truly spectacular restaurants and we were spoilt for choice on our recent holiday. However, there was one place we just had to try – Steirereck. Widely applauded as being one of the finest restaurants in Central Europe, Steirereck holds two Michelin stars and was hailed as the 11th best restaurant in the world 2012 by Restaurant Magazine.

Trying to secure a booking at such short notice I did not hold much hope. Sure enough there were no dinner spaces available for the entire week at any time. However, we secured a table for midday on Wednesday. The restaurant is located in the beautiful Stadtpark, only a 15 minute walk from St Stephens Cathedral. The restaurant is surrounded by a tabled terrace, which unfortunately was not in use on the day we dined – it would have been nice to have sat outside on such a glorious day.

The dining room is subtly opulent. The ceiling is covered with plaster moulded foliage, giving the impression of an enchanted forest and the tables are very generously spaced. There is a big emphasis on provenance and quality of ingredients at Steirereck. Many of the vegetables and herbs used in the restaurants dishes are grown in their own gardens – they were recently awarded the Slow Food UK Award.

We were shown to our table and were presented with the first of a series of canapés – an assortment of small variations of beetroot (one with confit duck leg) and other preparations of garden vegetables. The next canapé could have perhaps been the simplest but one of the most delicious dishes I ate during my time in Vienna. The dish was entitled ‘clothesline’ and consisted of a strip of air-dried ham topped with dehydrated watermelon, strung up on a mini clothesline. Truly delicious, simple and refreshing.

The food at Steirereck is intriguing. Underused and different ingredients are well employed and are prominent in all the dishes we were served. There was barely a course arrived which did not contain something I had not previously tried. Some dishes are not wholly what you would expect; the wild lettuce for instance tasting headily floral and pleasingly bitter. There is clearly much time and effort spent on adopting new cooking techniques. But these techniques are cleverly employed and appear only to be used if they will give real benefit to the finished dish.

Every course was enjoyable, some standing out more than others. The Iced Pericon with Bee Balm was unlike anything I have tasted, the texture of the ‘ice’/meringue was phenomenal. The use of bitter/sweet apricot and sweetcorn with the Venison was inspired and well-balanced. The cherries were paired with hay polenta – it would be worth returning to taste that dish alone. There really was little to fault. The quality of food was matched by the service which was unobtrusive and friendly.

The differentiating factor of all the dishes we tasted were the use of herbs grown in the restaurant’s garden. Many of them are obscure varieties which are tediously difficult to grow in the Austrian climate. But all without exception elevated the food to an entirely different level. Fundamental to every dish, their unique flavour was prominent and memorable. Please be sure to try the tea trolley – where a blend will be made to your taste with a selection of herbs from the garden (pineapple sage was amazing).

It was refreshing to be served dishes which excited and intrigued in wonderful surroundings and I urge you to try and visit.

Wild Lettuce

Venison

Iced Pericon

Cherries

Herbal Tea

Restaurant Steirereck, Stadtpark, Vienna

http://www.steirereck.at

Food (For Two): €138

Dress Code: Smart

Reservations: Required

Recommend: Yes

Review: Do&Co Restaurant Vienna

My girlfriend Jane and I spent our summer break in Vienna last week. Normally before any break I will make enough restaurant reservations to sink a ship, leaving little time for anything else. This time I was under strict orders, instead having to rely on my own intuition when we arrived – never a good idea (I am the worlds most indecisive person). After a quick trawl through tripadvisor on Sunday afternoon I came up with Do&Co, making a reservation for the following evening. Although no menu was viewable online, the restaurant was close to the hotel and a light lunch at the restaurant’s street cafe the previous day was delicious and affordable (the chicken caesar sandwich is a winner).

Situated at the top of design hotel Do&Co in the Haas Haus building opposite the majestic Stephansdom cathedral – restaurant Do&Co arguably has the best views of Vienna.

First things first – make a reservation. According to several blogs the restaurant operates a ‘no reservation, no table’ policy, no matter how busy they are. I’m not sure if this is strictly true, but a group of guys who attempted to have a drink in the restaurant’s bar, situated below the restaurant, were unable to secure a table or a drink. We dined on a Monday night and there was barely a table to spare.

The restaurant is widely regarded as one of Vienna’s most fashionable. Unfortunately this meant a dining room full of loud, brash young locals. The dining room is spacious (maybe 60/70 covers) and backs on to an open plan kitchen and wok station. Weather permitting, ask to be seated outside on the terrace which offers panoramic views over Vienna.

The service was efficient, not overly friendly but prompt and quiet. I appreciate it must be difficult serving customers who do not speak your native language, so don’t expect a great deal of chit-chat.

Now to the food. It really was an eclectic mix. The menu read like a map of the world – from traditional Viennese, to Malaysian, to modern French. No doubt there to please the hotel’s international guests, the menu had little identity. My heart dropped when I saw the words Donner kebab – a step too far? After ordering I was left questioning the quality of food which may leave a kitchen offering such diverse foods.

I shouldn’t have questioned. Goose Foie Gras and Mango came two ways: pan fried and terrine. Although the reduction accompanying the pan fried liver was slightly over reduced, the square of micro-thin mango jelly cloaking the terrine was deliciously tart, offsetting the sweetness of the reduction well. This dish would have been just as satisfying without the pan fried liver.

Crispy Prawns with truffle and salad were equally as well executed. A mammoth bowl of prawns were covered in deliciously chewy batter and the salad was hiding under a pile of shaved truffle. The only issue was the salad dressing, which was a touch too acidic and drowned out the fragrance of the truffle.

Jane’s lobster with cauliflower puree and curry oil was pleasant on first taste, but soon got tiring. The lobster was overcooked and cold and the overall texture of the dish was too soft. The puree was well made, as was the curry oil, but both were a little uninspiring when coupled with beautifully sweet lobster.

My saddle of Veal with béarnaise sauce, green beans and fries; however, was fantastic. By far the most tender veal fillet I have ever tasted – it must have seen the water bath before hitting my plate. The sauce was deliciously tangy and the green beans were elevated to new heights by sweet shallots and crisp sweet pancetta (american style I believe).

I used to love chocolate fondant, but I have lost faith recently after nasty experiences of overcooked, over-sweet cake. After a bottle of Pouilly Fumé I took the plunge. Perfection, an oozing core of bitter chocolate. Faith restored.

The kitchen can clearly cook to a very high standard, which leaves me wondering why they choose such a diverse menu. I am all for choice, but when you see a Donner kebab next to Goose Foie Gras and Fillet of Veal you have to question. A little more clarity and direction would give the restaurant a greatly needed identity. Although a little pretentious, the decor, prompt service and quality of food makes the Do&Co dining room a pleasant place to be and I shall definitely be returning.

Restaurant Do&Co, Stephansdom, Vienna

http://www.doco.com

Food (For Two): €114.80

Dress Code: Smart Casual (Jackets for Gentlemen)

Reservations: Required

Recommend: Yes