Sneakeater Posted August 28, 2008 Share Posted August 28, 2008 Osterreicher im MAK This is Vienna's hottest restaurant. Everyplace else I went on this late-August vacation was empty. This place was jumping. It was started by Vienna's other star chef -- Helmut Osterreicher of Steirerech im Stadpark -- at about the same time Christian Petz left Meinl am Grab to start the FUCKING CLOSED FOR VACATION Restaurant Coburg. But the two star chefs took interestingly divergent paths. Whereas Petz started a super-luxe restaurant, Osterreicher took over the commissary of the fantastic MAK museum,* offering his food at popular prices in a casual setting. This is more than just a museum cafe, of course (it's open till early the next morning, way after the museum has closed, for one thing). But it isn't a completely separate free-standing restaurant like The Modern in New York, either. While it has its own dedicated outside entrance, you can also access it through the museum shop. I went for dinner (well after museum closing). There's a dining room and a sizeable bar room. Reservations for the dining room are a must. But I can tell you, since they lost my dining room reservation (made by my supposedly infallible hotel at the last minute), that walking into the bar room is doable (although it got fuller and fuller as the night wore on). The menu (like Danube's!) is divided into "traditional" and "modern" sections. I had a "traditional" appetizer and a "modern" main dish (although in my case -- and this is atypical of the menu -- I couldn't really see what made the main dish so "modern"). The appetizer was what turned out to be a sort of goulash of calf's heart. Very good. The main dish were veal cheeks in a savory fruit (cranberry maybe?) sauce, also very good. Despite the popular prices, there are no problems with either ingredients or execution here. I've heard some say that portion sizes suffer because of it -- but to me that just meant that this was the rare meal I had in Central Europe where I didn't come out feeling a little sick from overeating. Service, though, was laughably bad. Not surly, just inept and overstrained. (One way they keep prices down, apparently, is to have practically no staff.) To pick out a Bruniesque detail, when my waitress realized she had got my appetizer order wrong and initially delivered me the wrong appetizer, the "fuck" she emitted was both good-humored and genuinely regretful. But she still got my order wrong, and she still said "fuck" (that last part doesn't bother me, but I could see how it would bother others). I have to admit that I was very slightly disappointed by Osterreicher im MAK -- but only because my expectations were sky-high. This is extremely good and interesting food in a very pleasant setting -- and at decent prices to boot. Anyone visiting Vienna will want to go here. ________________________________________________________________________________________________ * MAK is the museum of applied arts. As you'd expect in Austria -- the country that has taken applied arts more seriously than perhaps even England -- its collections are fantastic. What I think happened here is that by the 1980s, the institution had become tired. So in a move that parallels what happened to BAM in my hometown of Brooklyn, they engaged a dynamic director, and he transformed the museum. Each exhibit (either chronological or topical) is designed by a different artist or arts/architecture collective. While some work better than others, the entire museumgoing experience is enhanced exponentially. Quote Link to post Share on other sites
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