Figls: Glitz & Tradition
Malt and grapevines blend in an eclectic family restaurant
Stepping off the 38A bus at Neugebauerweg, you can’t help but notice the entrance to Figls, a Wirtshaus that manages to combine the look of a traditional Vienna Heuriger with a sleek, modern club, while somehow retaining a homely atmosphere. Figls is the latest addition to the Figlmüller family’s chain of restaurants, the best known being the aptly named Figlmüller in the 1st district, considered a definite authority on the Wiener Schnitzel.
Figls is the 2004 project of the younger side of the family, an existing Heuriger carefully renovated and transformed into a fascinating mix.
The restaurant boasts a variety of seating options: by the entrance, high tables are surrounded by barstools, perfect for enjoying a beer and a snack. Right opposite the bar, smaller tables for two to six people are a step up, comfortably separated from the main bar area. In the back of the restaurant, small tables for two to four guests wait in a secluded area behind a fireplace, ideal for cozy, intimate occasions, especially in winter. The upper level of the restaurant is often rented for large parties.
The décor is an interesting mix of old and new. Unfinished bricks are contrasted with sleek glass and metal frames that cover the former inner courtyard of the Heuriger. The reflected light fills parts of the room, creating a contrast to the darker parts of the restaurant where a more intimate feel presides. A bronze-colored beer barrel dominates the bar without intruding. Photographs of old Vienna remind the guests that despite the eclecticism, they are still in a traditional Austrian établissement.
Unlike the adjacent Heuriger, though, Figls focuses on beer, without neglecting the strong district traditions of wine drinking. Here, the beer is brewed specially for the restaurant and is smooth and refreshing. Selma, a particularly upbeat friend of mine who joined me for this Sunday lunch, recommended we stick to the beer, brewed in cooperation with the Ottakringer brewery. Very hungry, we had come to the right place.
As a first course, I tried the Erdäpfelsuppe, a hearty potato soup with vegetables. I ordered a Laugenbrezel, a soft pretzel filled with melted mozzarella, vegetables and tomato sauce, to share between the two of us. My friend went for the roast beef with onions and a Dijon-mustard sauce as a cold starter.
While the soup was solid home cooking, it didn’t prove to be anything special, unlike the Laugenbrezel, which was perfect along with a freshly tapped beer. The roast beef was also a fine compliment to the spicy red onions and the sweet mustard sauce. My friend was satisfied, but I had yet to convince her of my skills in selecting.
The main course was difficult. The menu offers a varied selection of Austrian tradition and more exotic dishes. Selma was determined to take the Zwiebelrostbraten, but I decided to try the Figls Burger out of pure curiosity. After another beer, the food arrived, and we had to pause to take in the sight.
The Zwiebelrostbraten was a thin slice of beef covered in a mountain of fried onions with freshly cut potato wedges as a side dish, and a hearty sauce to tie all this together. The beef was tender, and went well with the sauce and the onions.
But the burger turned out to be a bigger surprise – covered in vegetables, tomatoes, eggplant and zucchini, with potato wedges on the side along and two kinds of sauce. I wasn’t expecting such a combination of tastes, but it turned out to be great. The meat was thin, but was saturated with the full flavor of a charcoal grill.
We then took some time to breathe and look around at the other guests. There was a varied mix of people. Hung-over students drinking their Reparaturbier and munching on Laugenbrezeln sat peacefully next to families with multiple kids and dogs. Tourists wandered in looking confused at first, but soon genuinely happy that they had found such a nice place all on their own. There was a definite family atmosphere, accompanied by an understated elegance with a youthfully modern undertone. It seemed that this was the place for Grinzing locals looking for a good meal that they could enjoy without having to dress to the nines, although this would also have passed easily with the restaurant’s stylish décor. This place definitely caters to a wide variety of guests without losing an easy harmony of tone.
We were both sated, but decided in the name of journalistic integrity that we should try at least one dessert. We decided on the warm chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream, which turned out to be as tasty as it sounds. The cake was surrounded by caramel and Ribisel, chocolate sauce topped the ice cream. It looked great, almost too pretty to eat. Naturally our admiration did not last long, and we dug in. The cake was bursting with nuts, something they should have written on the menu, but it was delicious. And, it wasn’t as overly sweet as we had expected, which was a pleasant surprise.
Prices at Figls ranged from €4-12 for starters and €8-22 for the main course. The beer is priced at an acceptable €3.30 and the wine list extensive and varied.
19., Grinzinger Straße 55
Tel. (01) 320 42 57
Fax. (01) 320 42 57 20