We stayed at the Boutique Hotel Stadthalle for 3 nights and this is the nearest restaurant to the hotel. The hotel and restaurant are in a quiet residential area a little off the beaten track. On Friday evening we walked past the restaurant and the place was packed out. This, we thought, was a good sign as it seemed to us these were probably locals. Saturday night was the same.
On Sunday, while walking past on our way in to the city, we noticed that the restaurant appeared to have a few tables free. We ventured in and the friendly waiter (there was only one working) was pleased to offer us a table. The restaurant specialises in fish and we knew this, but my wife, who is a vegetarian is normally able to find something on the menu.
The waiter bought out a stainless steel tray with four fish on. He explained that the restaurant have fish freshly flow in from the Adriatic 3 times a week. Now I’m not sure if that is true or even necessary (surely Vienna has its equivalent of Billingsgate?), but the fish themselves (sea bream, monkfish, I think sea bass) did not seem overly fresh and in any case they were listed on the menu as costing anything up to 80 Euros. I opted for the grilled swordfish with potatoes and vegetables instead. My wife struggled to find anything but eventually ordered mozzarella and tomato salad with basil (an Euro 8.90 starter) as her main course, together with some rosemary potatoes.
The waiter seemed a little surprised that we had not ordered a starter and duly arrived with, I guess, an amuse bouche consisting of tuna pate and olives and a basket of bread. I explained that my wife was a vegetarian and he apologised and returned with a plate of cheeses and tomatoes which was helpful and appreciated.
We ordered some water and were served a bottle of still Aqua Panna. The bottle was presented to us open and was not particularly cold. This, and the taste, made us suspicious that this was in fact, albeit perfectly good, Austrian tap water, but I could be being very unfair. We also ordered a bottle of an Austrian white wine a ‘Markowitsch Chardonnay’ at a cost of 30 Euros. This was served in an ice bucket which the waiter put on the windowsill next to our table. When we tried to refill our glasses the waiter came over and explained that he would do that for us. This is fine policy if the waiter is attentive, but several times throughout the evening we had ‘secretly’ fill our own glasses as the waiter was either nowhere to be seen or was chatting to his regulars.
My fish was served overcooked and tough with a ‘spaghetti’ of undercooked carrot and I think swede and some mildly garlicky sautéed potatoes. My wife’s salad was as expected with accompaniment being boiled potato slices dressed in butter and rosemary. Both were just about OK, but that’s all.
We decided not to have a dessert when the couple next to us sent back one of theirs because it had a hair in it.
So we had two very average main courses, with a free starter / amuse bouche, with a bottle of wine and a bottle of water. The cost, 80 Euros. To put this into context, at Café Central we had a glass of Kir Royale each, 2 main courses of excellent quality from the a la carte menu, with coffee and cake for dessert and it came to 60 Euros including a 10% tip. As a post script, when flying home from Vienna airport the same wine we were charged 30 Euros for was on sale in the duty free shop for 8.90 Euros.
Sadly it’s a case of ‘they saw us coming’, but hopefully others can be warned before making the same mistake we did.
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