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Steirereck, Vienna

June 25, 2012

As part of the family’s summer holiday, we dropped by Steirereck, the highest-rated two-Michelin star restaurant in Vienna, for lunch on 11 June 2012 to mark our 18th wedding anniversary. Located in the middle of the city’s Stadtpark (Vienna’s answer to NYC’s Central Park, about a-third the size), the single-storey restaurant is spaciously decked out in modern elegant decor, with a touch of the avant-garde (most noticeably in the restrooms!). Typically consistent with European tradition, the service is a mix of warm hospitality combined with a certain distant, business-like Viennese temperament.

Three options for lunch are available: a full degustation of 6 courses, or a 4- or 5-course option (EUR 65 & EUR75, respectively), each course generously offered in five different choices that should suit all tastes. What sets Steirereck apart from other one- or two-star establishments is the highly imaginative interpretation of real food in real portions with a light touch without any adulteration of the ingredients, ensuring that the dishes remain faithful in taste whilst enhancing the dining experience. The char with beeswax is prepared right on your table where the molten beeswax is poured onto a tray of fish and allowed to solidify, while the pepper with cabbage, chilli and snails is overstated in presentation but utterly understated and sublime in taste. My main course of crayfish was delightful while the wifey and son enjoyed their meal of barbecued sturgeon and piglet cheeks, respectively.

We toasted our anniversary with a glass each of Gonet-Medeville Rose NV, imbued with forward notes of orangey tangy citrus, cherries and a lovely rosy fragrance, generously replicated on the palate, framed by lively acidity at the edges and well-supported by clear crystalline minerality, becoming more high-toned over time. Very good. The wine list was rather modest with the usual listings of Italian, Spanish, Bordeaux and Burgundy, the reds and whites separated physically, the latter offering a good range of Austrian indigenous whites and dessert wines. I guess when one is in Austria, one should drink its offerings. We settled for a half-bottle of 2007 Patrick Bayer In Signo Sagittarii, made from 100% blaufrankisch grapes from the Austrian region of Hochberg. This was decanted for almost an hour, a dull opague red that was medium-full and weighty with notes of licorice, ripe wild berries, a firm trace of medicinal and other herbal aromas, revealing some chewy tannins and a hint of rusticity at the edges, but well-balanced. It reminded me of a syrah. Nothing much to really shout home about, but I wasn’t asking for too much either.

The staff didn’t forget about our special occasion and brought out the obligatory mini-fanfare before presenting us a check for EUR329, which seemed a mild bargain considering the generous spread. Enjoy the pictures.

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