Princelings at Table
At ‘ein Wiener Salon,’ 4-star dining in intimate elegance – a contemporary salute to the Baroque
One of the best ways to fight a winter depression is an elegant dinner with a friend at fine restaurant, little more rewarding than prandial pleasures in a luxurious atmosphere to wipe out winter melancholic.
So, in mid January, with spirits desperately needing a lift, I wrapped myself up well in my winter coat and headed for the relief of the evening, a dinner with "Dorothy Parker" at ein Wiener Salon, a small, stylish restaurant located at Stubenbastei 10, in Vienna’s 1st District.
Opened in 2005 by Messrs. Sven Bader und Felix Strasser, it combines modern chic with Baroque accessoires. The coolness – a trifle too cool, one could argue – of polished aluminium waste pipes on the ceiling and the aluminium kitchen a step up on a split-level surveying the guests at the scattered tables is contrasted with walls lavishly papered in mock tapestry in dark blue with gold fleur de lis, topped oversized portraits of Empress Maria Theresa and the Emperor Josef, in brocade gown and white powdered wig.
Or at least, that’s what "Dotty" and I thought at first. "Those are actually mock paintings of my partner in baroque clothing", so Strasser with a twinkle of an eye.
This and the elegance had already done wonders, but the menu did the rest. We browsed through a well-chosen prix-fix selection of three entrées and a choice of two main courses as well as two desserts, a specialty of Ein Wiener Salon. Every two weeks there is a new menu, "lovingly composed by my partner and me," Strasser said. The goal is to host a private dinner invitation for every guest.
We fell for the roasted Alsatian goose liver on an apple-brioche bed and Escargot-ravioli as entrées, raised by the only Viennese Escargot family, the Gugumucks – growing vegetables, parsley, potatoes in Rothneusiedl near Vienna since 1720, recently adding Escargot breeding - , Strasser told us. Hmmm… didn’t sound very Viennese, we thought, and wondered where they might have originally come from before joining the multinational Viennese melting pot. The question remained unanswered.
These were followed by poached Saibling (a native fresh-water fish) spiced with tarragon and finished off with a cucumber-lentil mix for Ms. Parker and a fillet of veal exquisitely matched with Gnocchi and Artichokes in liquorice sauce for yours truly.
Anything missing? Of course, the wine! An impressively well-balanced wine list, red as well as white, was quite a challenge. Finally, the decision was made in favour of a red, St. Laurent Hoadocka Carnuntum, Hans & Martin Netzl 2005, regretting having to pass up a Riesling Smaragd Hochrain Hirtzberger, Wachau 2007, or a Sauvignon Blanc Nigl, Kremstal 2007 or among the reds Pinot Noir Grand Select Weingut Wieninger Wien 2004 and Zweigelt Fraunenfeld Reserve Johaneshof Reinisch Tattendorf 2006.
Relishing our feast and animated talk, it wasn’t until the pause between the main course and dessert that we noticed our fellow guests under the dimly-lit sheen of contemporary-baroque. A casual after-office gathering on one side, quite a large group, joined in laughter and relaxed chatter and a private dîner à deux at my back, with champaign and an exchange of gifts. Ein Wiener Salon is a place for special occasions, in business or en privée.
Ours was rounded off with a dangerously luscious almond ice-cream followed by a tender mousse au chocolate topped with a twist of ginger-cherries. For the redoubtable Ms. Parker, it was a perfect sample of goat cheese sweetened with moss-berry jam.
We sampled and shared, and left the restaurant lighter in spirit – and be warned, in pockets. This is a costly pleasure – dinner for two with wine and tip, €130. But on the right occasion, well worth it.
Ein Wiener Salon
1., Stubenbastei 10
0660 654 27 85
Open Tue-Sat 18:00-12:00