Monday, April 6, 2009

We are so not impressed by lobster foam!

Yes Madam I am fully licenced by the Turkish government to rip you off. Please step over here and empty your purse onto the table.

On Saturday we had dinner at Le Ciel.

In our quest to find the best restaurants in Wien we have been using the Gault Millau guide and working through all the ones that are highly rated. Our experience to date has been that – in general - the ratings do not refect reality.

Meinl Am Graben for example is vastly overrated. It is no surprise that Herr Meinl has been arrested on charges of fraud and bailed for €100 Million Euros. He deserves this for the mark up on his wine list – let alone the outrageous charges for very average food.

I regret to say (sigh) that Le Ciel is in the same category. It is ranked 16/20 in Gault Millau - and I am beginning to think that the reviewers have no taste buds.

Le Ciel is part of the Grand Hotel Wien and is on the top floor of the hotel. The setting is lovely, the ambience is very nice indeed. Everyone dresses up – even the Russian gangsters wear coats – but the food is so average it would make you weep.

It was very hot so I did take my coat off – and I was the only one to do so – perhaps this had a detrimental impact on the kitchen staff?

We had the Lobster foam buttons with crispy noodles, very white bland and listless fish and oh so very average chicken. The wine with each course was nice – but not sensational.

This cost €200. This is simply not acceptable in Wien. There really is good food to be had here at prices that are not outrageous. It seems that in Wien – (I am sorry to say) it is often a case of style over substance.

People seem to go to these places because they are the places to go. We go for the food because (as I am sure you know by now) we are truly sensational arbiters of food style and taste and are at the cutting edge of food technology. (Which is why Lobster foam did not impress us – these days we expect Lobster essence – taken through the nostrils – or as a suppository)

We have a few more restaurants to go in the top categories but so far we have had very few successes. To be honest – to date restaurants in general in Wien have been very, very disappointing. There have been some standouts – on which I have reported –but – overall – abysmal – and very much over priced.

In Istanbul we had – in three meals – the three best meals we have had so far in Europe – and at less than half the cost of the meals in Wien.

But I am not complaining about Wien – this is a great town and I love it!

Well – except for the smoke and the dog poo.

I have nothing against smokers per se. Cate and I were both smokers for many years and gave up on 23 November 1993. I am happy for people to smoke as much as they want. I am happy for them to smoke themselves to death – as long as they do it quickly.

I just don’t want them to smoke where I am. I love fresh air, good food, good wine and good coffee (not necessarily in that order). Smoke spoils this and gives me an instant headache.

There are signs all over Wien at the moment which say ‘Geld Scheisser’. This means what you think it means. If your dog poos on the pavement it will cost you money.

This does not seem to have made much of a difference in our area as people still bring their dogs out to shit on the footpath every day – but I guess if you are in fact that stupid and insensitive there is no sign or fine that is going to change your dumb ass ways.

I think they should give the job of policing this to the parking police. These people are the most tenacious and hardy souls I have ever seen and I reckon could stop the dog poo problem in a matter of days. I would legislate to make the owners eat the dog poo. But then I would legislate to make smokers eat their cigarette butts.

That’s the type of cruel insensitive person I am.


  1. Dog poo on the pavement was one of the things I really disliked about Europe. Some cities were worse than others. I remember Nice being particularly bad (or maybe I was there when all the dogs were visiting for holidays too !). You just don't see that in Oz - you get poo on your front lawn but not on the pavement.

    As for food foams of any sort, I'm sure that was out of fashion some time ago !!

  2. I'm intrigued! What was the significance of 23 November 1993 that caused you and Cate to give up smoking? Jim gave up when he was told that his father had died of lung cancer and was the third generation to die of a lung disease.

    When I visited Wien in 1979 I said that the only way to visit was if you had lots of money. I don't, so I guess I'll stay away. My budget then hardly stretched to a cup of coffee...

    Is there any such thing as an 'ordinary person' living and working in Wien? Perhaps if you get away from the Beautiful People you will be able to find some tasty fare that's more reasonably priced. What do you think?

  3. That was just the day we decided to give up.

    We are very ordinary. Nothing special about the date (unless you think that it being 30 years and 1 day after the assassination of JFK makes it special)

    There are lots of nice restaurants with good food but we are looking for those special places where we can have a knees up when visitors come to town.

    Few and far between I am afraid.

  4. What do you usually say when you are asked how the meal was? (when it is awful)

  5. Well..they aren't usually awful...just not what you would expect when you pay so much. They are all in fact quite edible - but about what you would expect to get in Sizzlers for 1/10 of the price. (But this is Wien)