Stadt Heuriger Gigerl
Gemütlichkeit found on a quiet city lane
In a protected corner of cobblestone lanes closed to cars, Gigerl’s outdoor seating under a wide awning spills onto the street. The hum of voices blends with the buzz of the posh club across the way, and the three or four unpretentious restaurants along the Ballgasse adjoining. The name Gigerl comes from the Austrian word for "dandy," a stylishly dressed man about town, and the young wait staff add a straw boater and a bit of flair to the usual black trousers, white shirt and vest.
On a Friday evening in April, it seemed too cool to sit outside, but finding a table in the congenial wood-paneled interior was hardly a sacrifice, as we settled in under a pleasingly dingy oil painting – a convivial Heuriger scene by the Austrian inter-war genre painter Hans Larwin – and ordered our first half litre of Schank Wein from the barrel, accompanied as usual with generous portions of mineral water to mix or drink along side.
The charm of Gigerl, typical of most Heurige, lies in the combination of style and simplicity, attentive table service for the wine and beverages, self-service negotiation, often with the cooks themselves, for just the right selection at the buffet.
The mood is often lively, the folk music gentle, and the walls covered with old prints and other oddities, like an ancient corkscrew and a marionette of a gnarled inn keeper hanging by its last strings.
At the buffet, we chose a selection of Heuriger staples: a Kummelbraten (roast pork spiced with garlic and caraway, making a crisp rind), a mixtur e of cold salads, dark mixed-grain bread, or Mischbrot, and two spreads, the traditional Liptauer with paprika and mustard and a second favourite, a Frühlingsaufstrich with garlic cheese and chives.
Heuriger salads vary but usually include a few classics: we chose an excellent Schwarzwurzel (a white root vegetable, boiled soft and served cold with a sauce of sour cream and dill), green olives stuffed with goat’s cheese and marinated artichoke hearts.
In a very satisfying meal, the succulent a perfectly spiced Kummelbraten, tender as Tafelspitz, crowned the evening, and our second half litre of Grüner Veltliner was rounded off with a local cherry brandy on the house, that was pleasingly light.
Somehow, the time slid by, the fresh light wine and easy setting letting conversation flow, amid the delectable aromas from the steaming buffet. When we finally paid the bill, we had been there for nearly four hours.
For more on Gigerl, see also Vienna’s Ol’ Time Songfest in TVR Sept. 2009