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A la Colthard: Vestibül and Zum Schwarzen Kammel

Before I review the two restaurants we visited yesterday I would like to give my impressions of Vienna as a food City. Walking around the inner town, we passed through three food markets in open squares. It was apparent that these were not greasy burger joints as you might find in England, but kiosks which were well presented serving delicious street food like charcuterie. Clearly the Viennese like an ” Imbiss” ( snack between meals) as much as as glass of refreshing sparkling wine (saft) or gluhwein. We also noticed the proliferation of coffee houses. We stopped at one in St Stephens Square. Polly noticed first that the three people on the adjoining table were smoking. I soon realised this was typical of a city proud of its gastronomic culture and not willing to change it. Modern British cuisine is often descriptive of a fashionable Metro restaurant. I doubt if modern Viennese exists at all. It’s also a gastronoimic culture that gravitates to meat which was a bit tough on Polly who is vegetarian.

Our first port of call was Vestibül, recommended by Michael Cole, whose daughter lives in this City. The owners Michael and Veronika greeted us at the foyer which is on the right of the main theatre. This, like so many Viennese buildings, was one of architectural splendour. I ordered cream of chestnut soup with a truffle foam: this was delicious though extremely rich. Chef Michael then gave us his signature lobster dish prepared in a bisque sauce. I went traditional with wiener schnitzel served with a sweet potato salad. The batter was light and non-greasy and the veal succulent. Wine is served by the glass and I asked the waiter for guidance. The first white was thin but the second more full bodied. I ended with a schnapps. Surprisingly there were only 4 other diners present. Perhaps the restaurant gets a theatre crowd. It certainly deserves more.

At night we went to the Schwarzen Kammel: this was one of Vienna’s oldest restaurants, dating back to the seventeenth century. It  was warm enough to eat outside but we were in the restaurant section. It was not unlike the Wolseley, serving food all day. Our part of the dining room was more formal. I ordered a salmon tartare and venison. Both were cooked and presented to a high standard – again wine was offered by the glass. This, though expensive, allows for experimentation and I liked the Riesling and fuller red known as Oxtrum. After, I abandoned all efforts to restrain the Daffers tummy and chose a desert of pistachio ice cream, plum tart and chocolate mousse.

This was more expensive than Vestibül at €100 per head. There was one blemish on the service: it took ages to serve a second glass of red wine, which very nearly did not accompany the venison. In both the restaurants the waiters spoke excellent English. To eat out twice in a day is probably too rich an experience in terms of cuisine and expense, so tomorrow we are visiting the famous food market, Naschmarkt. I walked back with Polly. We agreed that we were both ready for nothing but sleep. If the Viennese, some of whom looked quite dishy, are looking for dinner seduction they need a lighter cuisine!!

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About Daphne Colthard

After graduating at RADA but finding no roles Daphne went into magazine journalism with Good Housekeeping. Widely recognised as one of the country's leading restaurant and hotel reviewers, particularly by herself, Daphne is the author of "Bedded and Breakfasted", a light hearted chick novel and Grand Hotels DC: the Daffers Dictionary. Daphne lives in West London and is married to an investment banker Oliver. They have 2 boys Humphrey and Tarquin. More Posts