“Zum alten Fassl” (“Ye Olde Keg”) in Vienna’s fourth district, somewhat out of the way of the paths of tourists, is a charming old inn. It’s located in a two-story building off Margarenstraße… which tells you already something: the fewer the stories, the older the building. I would venture to guess that the original building was erected no later than the late 18th, early 19th century.
In winter time in particular, go for the main dining area (not the larger room to the back), to the left of the entrance: it is in dark wood, a bit cramped, providing typical “Beisl” (Viennese inn) atmosphere, and gives you a warm, cozy feeling. In summer time, don’t miss the garden: from the entrance, go straight to the back, past the kitchen entrance, turn left and then right and there you are, in the courtyard, and you find yourself in pleasant surroundings you could only expect in the country side. The square courtyard is almost completely occupied by the restaurant’s garden, with a total of about twenty tables, one huge tree, and several smaller ones, the canopy well decked with evergreen-type leaves that spread out between the trees.
I went there for lunch. As in so many restaurants in Vienna, particularly those outside of the tourist areas, they offer lunch menus at low prices. So it is here, as well: three types of menus to select from, prices between € 5.70 to € 7.30… bargains indeed. All of them are good, dependable “Hausmannskost” (“home cooking”)… don’t expect anything fancy. Today’s choices were: fried chicken with potato salad; flat iron steak with potatoes; fried champignons. Quantities are satisfying for even the most starving patron. I selected fried mushrooms; but first, I had a vegetable soup… in your luncheon menus, you most often have a choice of antipasto or soup… reminded me of my father who always said: a meal without a soup is not a meal… The garden was almost completely full, everyone seemed to have a good time. Service was swift and pleasant. But then, the crowning event was when I noticed something moving right underneath the hedge of the yard. I looked closer… it was a hedgehog! Unbelievable, right here in the middle of the city, a hedgehog! It shuffled around, sniffed underneath the tables, including the feet of some of the patrons (without them noticing anything), and moved on. When I mentioned it to the waiter he kind of nonchalantly replied: Oh, yes, there are three of them, one mother and her little ones.
Should you go there and see the hedgehog, greet it from me…
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