Sunday, December 23, 2012

Gasthaus Pöschl, Vienna

Nothing that I read about Viennese restaurants or cuisine really got me excited about the eating component of this trip. I was just kind resigned to eating stodgy food, and drinking wine, and eating cakes, and that was cool. Plus we're staying in the inner city, and I imagine it's pretty touristy and pricey around here - hard to tell on your first visit. But I was pleasantly surprised to peek into Kleines Cafe, and read soon after that Gasthaus Poschl, just up the street, shares an owner with it (an actor and trained patissier). Reviews even said one should book in advance. We went early...

And yes, a booking would have been nice. The staff was pleasant about it, and we took two of the 6 seats at the counter. There were definitely tourists (I mean, one of them is writing this, and there were Japanese girls at the window table), but also locals doing a year-end thing, and it was convivial regardless. The staff were rushing around happily forgetting things, which one shouldn't get too upset about, and we were pleasantly surprised by the level of interest on the menu - especially considering that some places call this 'a traditional gasthaus'. I was emboldened to get two of the most basic dishes possible...

And found pretty much right away what's going on here: it's younger people who renovated an older space and are devoting themselves to cooking the classics really well. Differentiatingly well. There's nothing 'traditional', 'homey', or even really 'classic' about it - it has that freshness and zing that the best little places have, except they serve big sets of heavy food, like this really excellent schnitzel. I say 'sets' because the schnitzel came with a barely-pictured bowl of lightly-sweet, red-onioned potato salad, which was equally good. Very much in the 'ohhh, that's why people started eating this' category.

Someone had the tafelspitz. First time it's appeared here? I think so. Basically, boiled beef butt. Supposedly the emperor's favorite dish, here in a reputable version topped with a lot of nicely-boiled yellow carrot. Hey!
'Sets'? Did I say that? Because that perfectly normal portion of beef and veg also came with a deeelicious bowl of pumpkin soup and a huge, perfectly cooked and fried 'omelette' of potatoes. (I say 'omelette' because that's how it was shaped, and I say 'cooked and fried' because the potatoes didn't get that way just by griddling them quickly at one temperature, and I say 'perfectly' for reasons that should be obvious. Comfort food made with a lot of care and freshness, not like mom used to make at all (if mom was Viennese).

Ticking off the list of famous / standard desserts in Viennese cuisines, this is the 'Moor im Hemd', or 'Negro in Chains'. A dubious reference to be sure, and I'm dubious of the ingredient list too - recipes I'm looking at now describe it as simply a bundt cake, but I'd swear there were poppy seeds in here (at least one inquisitive board poster inquired mistakenly  after the 'Mohn im Hemd', or 'Poppy Seeds in Chains'.). Like what I've said before, this really was surpassingly delicious for a chocolate cake in chocolate sauce with whipped cream. Goodness me.

Let me not go on forever, or at least not any more than I do already. As we walked around after, someone remarked "You're in a much better mood now. It was that restaurant, wasn't it?" She was right. We finally found some food worth writing about.

Expressing in another way how much I enjoyed this: on our way out, we booked a return visit for 3 days later. (no website)
01 5135288

2 comments:

  1. Any wine tasting? I love gruner veltliner and was introduced to it on my one and only trip to Austria.

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  2. Weeeellllll, I had wine with most meals (we slept through breakfast most days, so that's not as crazy as it sounds) and plenty of it was GV...but all the wine is basically good and EUR 3.5 for a glass, and they don't always tell you where it's from. It's not so critical I guess. I loved that!

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