What would you think when we talk about Vienna?
My mind gets flooded by the images of the vast garden dividing the lower and upper parterres of Castle Belvedere; the Naschmarkt which is the most diverse bazaar of the city where the delicious local wines and vinegars are sold side by side and you can take a sample from them like a perfume before the market turns to a flea market at the weekends; the town hall, Rathaus and its towers with spires piercing the clouds; the 500-years-old school that King Maximilian set up with the noble horses imported from Spain and their trotting, almost waltzing to the songs of Mozart, the pride of the country; a cup of mélange and its accompaniment sacher torte, a celebration of chocolate in the cafes; the first coffeehouses in Europe; more than a pancake: kaiserschmarren, a masterpiece made with raisins; the famous pounded thin schnitzel served at the hundred-years-old restaurants: Filgmüller or Plachuttas; and many more…
On the other hand, you could forget this list with just one bite from the menu of Steirereck Restaurant.
Located in the middle of the green valley, the Stadtpark, Steirereck is a cute country house with two floors, filled with the sunshine coming through the branches of the surrounding trees and the restaurant’s large windows.
Opened in 1970 by the Reitbauer family, the restaurant is now run by the Chef Heinz Reitbauer who promised to follow the path of his father in culinary terms, hence Steirereck offers a menu composed of traditional Austrian dishes with modern touches.
The concept of “Chilometro zero” as the Italian call it, which means using only fresh local produce, is very important to the chef. For this reason, Heinz Reitbauer set up his own farm and dairy. Thanks to his successful modern interpretation of the traditional cuisine and his principles for clean and fair food, Steirereck is one of the restaurants which won the Slow Food Award.
The 16th best restaurant of the world, Steirereck is awarded with 2 stars and besides, received many other awards as well. However, in my opinion, the most important achievement of the restaurant is that it was the first Austrian restaurant awarded with 4 Gault Millau toques and it still maintains to date its toques with a whopping 19 points.
Almost the dictionary meaning of “fine dining”, Steirereck is a two-story building as I mentioned before. While you can taste the star-awarded dishes in a chic atmosphere on the second floor; on the ground floor, the restaurant transforms into a cozy local eatery called Meirei Stadtpark offering a menu composed of 3-4 dishes, piping hot Vienna cakes and more than 120 varieties of Austrian cheese as a tribute to the times when the house was used as a dairy. In this regard, it reminds me of Les Deux, serving both as a refined restaurant and a bistro.
Although you might expect a little serious high-toned atmosphere because of the awards the restaurant has won, its design is quite laid-back, inspired by the tranquility of the river probably. As the restaurant is well-lit and has a refreshing atmosphere, its ceiling is decorated with flowers along with bee and butterfly figures. After a brief check on the room, the velvet chairs and table with starched tablecloths drew our attention. We sat at our table and set to wait for the menu with excitement.
Steirereck offers 6-course menu (132€) and 7-course menu (142€) as well as a la carté menu. According to your choice in meat or fish, these tasting menus can be modified as well.
The informative cards brought to you before each course help a lot with all the ingredients listed on them. If you’d like, you can take them home after the dinner.
The opening was made with a magnificent bread cart which was loaded with probably the most diverse selections that I’ve ever seen, ranging from sourdough, whole wheat breads to the ones with bran, rye, olive, vegetables. They tasted as delightful as they looked. It was like the bread cart foreshadowed the rest of the night.
It was followed by scissors and greenery pot which surprised us because the actual scissors and greenery pot were brought to the table. We cut the little plants and ate them dipping in the sauce made with olive oil, tomato and mustard seeds. It was an interesting amuse bouche. Although I love eating greenery as someone from Izmir, it was the only presentation that I was displeased with.
Olive mousse was another amuse bouche that we loved a lot. It came with cucumber and other refreshing vegetables as well as sweet-sour pickles.
Warm artichoke salad was marinated with my favorite duo, coriander and lemon grass in white wine and then poached. As the aroma of thyme was quite perceivable, the dish was like the celebration of the Mediterranean greenery.
With its white and purple strips, the rosa Bianca eggplant was thinly sliced and then mixed with baby rocket, pumpkin and finally pine nuts to achieve a fine balance.
The most creative dish of the night was fish in beeswax. It was made with “salvelinus”, a type of trout that lives in fresh cold waters. First the thin filets of fish were placed in a wooden mold in the shape of a honey comb and then the mold was filled with beeswax. In a short time, the wax gets set and then the filets were cooked in a preheated oven at 200 degrees for about 10 minutes. Boosted with quince vinegar, yellow radish called “rutabaga”, dried carrot and basil, the dish was the star of the night with its preparation, presentation and taste.
Fresh water lobster, langoustine (or crayfish as known in Turkey) was just melting away in the mouth. The strudel was filled with parsnip puree, raisin and croutons and the rolls made with carrot was stuck into it.
The barbecued sturgeon was coated with fermented pear juice, elderberry juice and balsamic vinegar. It also came with the Peruvian grain “quinoa” and kohlrabi along with chives cream.
The last dish was braised milk-fed veal. It was quite juicy and delectable. The slices of the veal was accompanied by pieces of veal cheek, grilled broccoli, mint, physalis on a bed of black walnuts and mushroom sauce.
For the desserts, we had two stylish selections: crispy crepe with Japanese medlar sprinkled with violets and warm trinitario – chocolate pudding with pineapple-pericon sorbet and coconut macaroons.
Following a chat with the Chef Heinz Reitbauer about the menu of the night, we ended our night with the cigar we smoked in the cigar-room near the entrance.
If you’d like to complement your Vienna experience after enjoying spectacular sightseeing, Steirereck Restaurant is one of the best choices with its modern interpretations of the traditional cuisine!
Bon appétit and enjoy the taste of life…