Thursday, February 25, 2010

A truly spectacular rich and gustatory experience

Hmmm………You’d better get the rest of the litter Harry - I reckon we’ll need six more kittens to get to the top of the fence.

On Wednesday we went to Steirereck for Cate’s special birthday. This has the reputation one being of the best restaurants in Wien – and has the appropriate Gault Millau rating (19/20 Holy Toledo!) - but we have never been there before tonight.


We have tried to get there before but it is very popular and you have to book weeks in advance – so (unlike us) on this occasion we planned ahead.

It is in Stadtpark on the Wienfluss and is just five minutes walk from our front door. The setting is wonderful and the night was perfect. To get to the restaurant you walk up a long path and up a flight of stone steps flanked by rows of candles and men in bearskin coats carrying spears.

People leapt to open the door and inside you are greeted by hordes of people including the greeter, the coat taker, the coat hanger, the table finder, the chair puller outer, the ‘would you like a drink’ person and the initial drink bringer.

This crew is immediately replaced by a more permanent horde of 30 or 40 who attend to your every need. These include the cutlery provider (who also gives you a little card with each course giving a forensic analysis of what you are eating), the crumb remover, the ‘extra napkin for clumsy guest’ provider, and a number of people who are there to supervise the others – and just watch you carefully to make sure you lack for nothing – and don’t steal the Christofle cutlery.

After the first five minutes I knew this would be a card-crippling experience so rang our account manager at Visa to warn her in advance.

It is indeed sensational. We had the degustation menu (I still don’t know what this is in German) and every mouthful was a delight. Each course was accompanied by a wine – and each was fabulous.

It was as good as Ein Wiener Salon – but more elegant and showy and MUCH more expensive.

The only wobbly part of the entire evening was when Cate threw her Duck at me and missed altogether. We had to scrape the Duck and its accompanying bits off the table cloth and plop the remains onto my plate. This left a nasty stain which had to be covered up by the ‘extra napkin for clumsy guest’ provider.

This person was also in attendance when Cate tried to throw her glass of Mineral Wasser mit Gaz over me a bit later.

I think one of the reasons it was so expensive is that all the waiters traveled in pairs or groups. This might be for safety reasons and perhaps they have been ambushed in the past by drunken patrons.

They also use only Riedel glassware and Christofle cutlery. The waiters wear white gloves and there is a Bread wagon, a Cheese Wagon, a Chocolate Wagon and a Dessert Wine Wagon – each with its own dedicated waiter.

I didn’t have time to count the staff in the kitchen when we went past but there couldn’t have been less than 20.

A truly spectacular rich and gustatory experience.

Today I was going to have a rant about something but have quite forgotten what it was. I will think about it and make you suffer tomorrow.


  1. Happy Belated Birthday to Cate!
    All I ever did was having breakfast at the more moderate downstairs Meierei. Still, it was wonderful, the almost white room with glass walls on three sides, looking over the park and the river Wien. The best tea in all of Vienna and a selection of the finest nuggets one could dream up when waking hungry one morning made for a memorable feast, and a quiet one too, since no other guests were there yet.

  2. I had a chicken bagel from Stroek at Schwedenplatz (not sure I have spelt either of those right).

  3. This post makes my Wednesday night dinner of HOT POCKET seem even worse. Maybe If I had a personal hot pocket warmer and a hot pocket filling cooler offer it would be better. Probably not.
    Your dinner sounds fabulous.