21
Apr

VIENNA 3/15/2014

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VIENNA 3/15/2014

WE HAD NEVER BEEN TO VIENNA, BUT HAD PLENTY OF REASONS TO GO; THE REASONS WE ALWAYS GO ANYWHERE — ART AND FOOD.  VIENNA IS AN ELEGANT, PROSPEROUS CITY WITH IMMACULATE NARROW STREETS LINED WITH LATE 19TH, EARLY 20TH CENTURY HOUSES THAT ARE BOTH CHARMING AND STATELY.  THEY CONTRAST DRAMATICALLY TO THE BATTALION-WIDE AVENUES OF THE RINGSTRASSE, WHERE NEO-CLASSIC MONSTROCITIES DOMINATE THE LANDSCAPE.  BUT THE ART — SCHIELE, BOSCH, BRUEGEL, CRANACH, KLIMT — WAS SPECTACULAR.  CLASSIC VIENNESE FOOD IS HEAVY, BUT THIS IS A COSMOPOLITAN CITY.  MIKE HOAGLAND, THE GENERAL MANAGER AND WINE DIRECTOR FOR JOSEF CENTENO’S RESTARANTS, HAD RECENTLY SPENT TIME IN VIENNA AND THE NEARBY WACHAU ON A WINE TOUR AND GAVE US A LIST, WHICH INCLUDED FRENCH, CROATIAN, ITALIAN, AND, OF COURSE, VIENNESE. WE ATE WELL IN VIENNA.

WE STAYED FOR SIX NIGHTS AT DO&CO, A MODERN HOTEL IN HAAS HAUS (THE “HOT HOUSE” BECAUSE IT’S ALL METAL AND GLASS), DESIGNED BY HANS HOLLEIN.  OUR WELL-APPOINTED 4TH FLOOR ROOM WITH ITS FREE-STANDING, GLASSED-IN SHOWER, OVERLOOKED THE GOTHIC SPIRE OF ST. STEPHAN’S AND THE SQUARE BELOW.  GREAT LOCATION.  IMPECCABLE SERVICE.  LAVISH BREAKFAST SERVED IN THE RESTAURANT ON THE 7TH FLOOR.

DO&CO RESTAURANT IS ONE OF THE BEST IN THE CITY.  ESSENTIALLY, MODERN FRENCH COOKING WITH AN EMPHASIS ON SEAFOOD; INGREDIENT-DRIVEN, WITH LIGHT SAUCES AND UNFUSSY, IMAGINATIVE ACCOMPANIMENTS.  MEDLEY OF FOIE GRAS, DOVER SOLE, ROASTED TURBOT, SUPERB WINE LIST WITH A FOCUS ON AUSTRIAN WINES, RIESLINGS AND GRUNERS, MANY OF THEM LOCAL, FROM THE WACHAU.  FRIENDLY BUT EFFICIENT SERVICE.

K O R N A T.  SEA FOOD.  CROATIAN, ALTHOUGH THE RISOTTO NERO AND PAPARADELLE WITH BLACK ISTRIAN TRUFFLES WERE AS GOOD AS ANY I’VE EATEN IN ITALY.  LOVELY CROATIAN WINES FROM THE ISLANDS, WHICH ARE WELL-PRICED AND DELICIOUS.  COOL AND STATELY MODERN INTERIOR.

PLACHUTTA.  AS VIENNESE AS IT GETS, ALTHOUGH THE NAME IS PROBABLY HUNGARIAN.  REMEMBER THE AUSTRO-HUNGARIAN EMPIRE?  FAMOUS FOR TAFELSPITZ, FRANZ JOSEPH’S FAVORITE DISH.  POT-AU-FEU, BOLLITO MISTO, TAFELSPITZ.  A COPPER CAULDRON IS SET ON YOUR TABLE.  SWIMMING IN A SEA OF BEEF BROTH ARE ROOT VEGETABLES, MARROW BONES, AND WHATEVER CUT OF THE COW YOU’VE ORDERED FROM THE TAFELSPITZ MENU.  (THERE’S DIAGRAM OF A COW ON THE WALL, WITH VARIOUS CUTS HELPFULLY LABELED, INCLUDING ONE CALLED FLEDERMAUS.)  THE FIRST COURSE IS JUST THE BROTH WITH SOME VEGETABLES.  BUT QUELLE BROTH!  THEN THEY DIVVY UP THE MEAT (ONE ORDER FOR TWO IS PLENTY), THE MARROW, THE VEGETABLES, WHICH ARE SERVED WITH SIDES OF HORSE-RADISH SPIKED APPLE SAUCE, ROESTI POTATOES AND GREEN CABBAGE.  ORDER A BEER OR MAYBE A SPATLESE RIESLING FROM THE WACHAU.

FABIOS.  ITALIAN.  VERY CHIC.  VIA VENETO MODERRN.  EXCELLENT, REFINED, MOSTLY NORTHERN ITALIAN DISHES.  LYNN AND I SPLIT RAVIOLI WITH TARTUFO NERO, FRIED OCTOPUS AND A SALAD WITH FRIED ARTICHOKE HEARTS.  CALF’S LIVER VENEZIANA IN A DARK SAUCE OF RED WINE AND CARAMELIZED ONIONS.  CONIGLIO, SERVED TWO WAYS (RACK AND LEGS) WAS MOIST AND DELICATE.  GOOD, BUT PRICEY WINE LIST.

EVERYONE IN VIENNA TAKES AN AFTERNOON BREAK FOR COFFEE AND PASTRIES.   AND THE CAFES ARE FABULOUS.  ONE FEELS TRANSPORTED BACK TO PRE-WAR, PRE-NAZI VIENNA.  DON’T MISS:

CAFÉ LANDTMANN (PICTURED ABOVE), AN EASY WALK FROM MUSEUMPLATZ, IS WHERE FREUD ATE STRUDEL EVERY DAY.  OLD WORLD ELEGANT.  AND THE PASTRIES ARE GREAT.

CAFE MUSEUM, IN BACK OF THE ACADEMY OF FINE ART WHICH HOUSES BOSCH’S LAST JUDGEMENT, WHICH RIVETED US FOR MORE THAN AN HOUR.  THE CAFE HAS RECENTLY BEEN RESTORED TO THE ORIGINAL ADOLF LOOS DESIGN.  RED BANQUETS, CHROME FIXTURES, NEWSPAPERS ON RACKS TO READ.  WE ATE A LATE LUNCH THERE AND THE SALADS AND SANDWICHES WERE EXCELLENT.

AMERICAN BAR, CLOSE TO OUR HOTEL, ANOTHER LOOS GEM.  THE INTERIOR IS COMPACT AND “CABARET” DECADENT; AMBER AND MAHOGANY PANELS; A LONG BAR WITH WITH A ROUND MAHOGANY RAIL; TINY DIAMOND-SHAPED TABLES WITH GLOWING MILK GLASS TOPS, SO EVERYONE’S FACES ARE LIT FROM BELOW LIKE A GERMAN EXPRESSIONIST MOVIE.  NO FOOD.  IT’S A BAR, SO ORDER A SCHNAPPS OR A GIN MARTINI.

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Categories : RESTAURANTS

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