The first name that comes to my mind is Chef Heinz Reitbauer at Steirereck. While the restaurant gets 2 Michelin stars every year, I believe Steirereck deserves even more than three stars. Chef Heinz is also known as “Plant Whisperer” thanks to his perspective about the earth, the big farm he built up from scratch, his passion for plant seeds, and his enthusiasm so big that he can strive all year round to come up with a recipe that he would like. He is a gastronomic maestro who starts his every day with the same excitement and discipline. His menu is sort of a modern interpretation of Austrian cuisine. However modern his interpretations are, he does this with an awareness and does not trespass the limits of the authenticity of that culture.
Situated by lakeside, Steirereck has two different spaces for lunch hours and dinner time. The room used by day takes in a lot of sunshine like a glass box so to speak. By night, Reitbauer invites his visitors to a lakeside fine-dining space.
With a design that has become Steirereck’s signature, the menu comes in the form of envelope-sized cardboards. Every food card lists one dish including its ingredients and technical details. These cards offer a narrative explanation rather than using a dry, explanatory language.
Pom Pom Mushroom
As you may remember, I mentioned the restaurant’s signature dish fish in beeswax in an old review I shared in 2014 (click to read it). This time, as it was the hunting season, the stars of the night were hare and pheasant. While the focus of the former dish was on cooked-to-a-turn hare; in the latter, ingredients such as golden berries, yam, tangerine and radish seemed to push pheasant into the background. Although it still tasted fine, some palates might prefer a more defined aroma of pheasant.
Among the other delightful dishes are black kale with a harmonious blend of pumpkin and caviar, and a clean and delicious bouchot mussels salad, made with a type of crustacean grown on ropes supported by huge poles on seashore.
The fact that you are eating at a 4-toque restaurant with 19 Gault-Millau points does not mean that you won’t see Vienna’s national dish schnitzel on the menu. Leaving aside all these stars born on its epaulets, Steirereck’s interpretation of this symbolic dish is as plain as it should be. Besides its humble presentation, milk-fed veal was crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside melting against my palate. It was also accompanied with its traditional sidekick: forest fruit salad….
With Chef Heinz Reitbauer
The dinner took 3 hours, and the dishes were paired with select names from the wine cellar which boasts an excellent 35,000-bottle capacity. At the end, the digestive cart seemed like it was celebrating the fact that we were in the hometown of schnapps. The cheese feast that came with it was dazzling just as much…
It would be remiss of my food-lover friends to go to Vienna and not pay a visit to Chef Reitbauer who could deftly charm my taste buds once again after all these years that passed!
Bon appétit and enjoy the taste of life….
Am Heumarkt 2A, 1030 Viyana, Avusturya
+43 1 7133168