Even More ‘Décor’

At the new restaurant in Augarten, food and drinks come with a view and compliments from the chef.

Services | Cristina Rotaru | July / August 2011

It’s a common assumption that all that comes with Baroque is profoundly desirable. From plump, curly-haired angels to eternal salvation of the soul and even palaces under the patronage of the more prosperous, what is there not to fancy?

Common, and still very much accepted. Fortunately for us, these are all things that Vienna has plenty of. Just take that level of expectations and raise it to the highest standard of French cuisine, and there is a drift. These days, when the ramp-up time for the opening of a new restaurant demands elaborate scaffolding, among vulture financiers and their equally enrapturing wives (yes, let them boil in anticipation, too), it’s true that the first couple of months can make or break any place.

Charmingly located in the West wing of the Augarten Schloss, a fresh décor has recently called the challenge. Airy, vibrating and fully degage, this newly inaugurated representative of the urban-green style of the local Schanigarten culture has all the odds at becoming a latest favorite.

As for the elite clubs of the nouveau riche, they don’t so much interfere with the authenticity of a locale as maintain it at its intended pulsation. Personally, I prefer to regard it as more of a social pulpit than anything else, and haughty games can become quite pleasurable from a distance, if you allow yourself to get past an awkward moment shared in the restroom mirror here and there.

At first glance, the atmosphere seemed barely frantic. It was uncommonly late for dinner on a Sunday evening, and from afar, the distinguished corner seemed to pocket the palace in a most intimate manner. The dimming light sank in protectively, and shadows casted over the two or three tables still occupied only enhanced the mystery. White linen covers helped define the space; simple, structural and bright, and blended in the garden surroundings almost secretly.

After all, it already had the setting: the theatrical construction of the palais, the garden’s many refuges, the city roaring just outside its gates. It just needed some polish. For those with a keen eye for decorative details, a savory treat, and the perfect example of why an afternoon should occasionally be spent indulgently.

Nonchalant and seemingly at home, manager David Sattmann unwillingly adds to this flavor. As he fashions, guests should be entertained, welcomed and smiled at. Surely, as a direct correspondent with owners Florian Glatzner and Emanuel Grasl, he knows a thing or two about the ideology behind the curtains.

But the interior disrupts the serenity of the outdoor greenery, if only for a moment, as business decision makers were obviously mindful of the need for textural contrast, as usual. Predominately white and stark, the clean cuts of the tables make you want to adjust your back position and sit up straight, shoulders back and head up in pride. A color-changing bar area, shelter of an endless amount of fine liquor, promised fizzy conversation on a busier day, and in fact, I could easily imagine a livelier atmosphere here.

A whole lot of sparkle came with a first Aperol Spritzer, despite a deep and wide wine list, and worked perfectly with the compliments coming from a very eager waiter.

"Is everything ok, ladies?" quickly became the phrase of the night, and we willingly surrendered to the lounging sounds of bossa nova. There’s nothing quite like a room full of impeccable men, clinging on your every word, I thought. It was going to be a night of saucy decadence.

The French-grounded cooking of Chef Hubert Rausch, a modern interpret of tradition whose reputation had preceded him, would calm all nerves scraped raw. Much like other aficionados of the sort, he’s into astringent, creamy tastes. Bearing this in mind, we quickly decide for the Asparagus Risotto and Salmon Trout (15,9 euro) and the Braised veal cheek with parsley puree and apple horseradish (16,9 euro), and wait for the professionals to work their magic.

We are not kept waiting long, and smile in awe as soon as the food arrives. Drizzle some pepper on top of these pastel-looking dishes, and taste that intense, vaguely sweet combination, and you’ll be reminded of why the bio element has gained so much popularity in recent years. The meat is earthy, perfectly cooked, the sides - hardly sides at all. Frothy textures indeed are an excellent choice.

An hour elapsed since our arrival, although it feels like much longer, and we are kindly reminded that it’s almost time to leave. After all, they do close at 23h, and seeing it that we are the only ones left, it makes perfect sense to speed things up a bit. But not before desert.

"We’d like the Sorbet with Prosecco, please.  Unless you want to recommend something else…"

"Our Caramel Poppy Cream with Lavender Ice Cream is quite good," he said, but then quickly gave us another playful smile and continued "…but that has no alcohol in it." A-ma-zing.

We are not disappointed – not by the home-make ice-cream or by the ambiance at large. Whether you’re a gourmand just in it for the inventive tastes, or someone who just likes to spend a breezy afternoon gazing at passersby, décor will surely slip right under your skin.

Even though it charges somewhat lavishly, be assured that you will get your money’s worth, and more. What it loses in affluence, it gains in spirit. And after all, if you consider that a restaurant is only as good as its last meal, you’ll want every meal there to be your last.

I’ll take a chance and even call it Vienna’s summer It-place.

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