It’s not often you’ll find Käsekrainer (cheese kransky sausage) next to beef tartare on a gourmet restaurant’s menu, but the culinary experience at Die Küche will have your eyes widening more than once.
It was my second time to Die Küche, having experienced their lavish breakfast some months prior. But I had to return to settle a bet with my French boyfriend – that Vienna can indeed nail the beef tartare.
My french date couldn’t help but surrender by the end of our three-course meal, and continued to go on about the great quality of the food, the flavours and the way it was artfully presented even days after our visit – Oh how sweet victory is: Gioia 1:0 French boyfriend.
Our experience started with some smoked bacon, butter and fine wine (recommended from the bulging wine list), and was shortly followed by the promising beef tartare for which head chef, Norman Etzold, paid us a visit at our table where he prepared the dish himself. With a colourful tray of around 10 different ingredients (including capers, egg yolk, chives, your choice of English or French mustard) and a bowl full of ground tartare meat, our neighbours couldn’t help but immediately order the same thing after watching Norman’s performance at our table. The Frenchie was also notably impressed.
After some wine, and a little tour of the kitchen, we sat down with the Michelin-awarded chef, Norman, and tried to suck out some dirty secrets of the princes and princesses that walk in and out of the restaurant, but we got nothing. He did, however, deliver a grilled salmon filet on a bed of vegetable risotto and a plate of Venison with ‘Schupfnudeln’ (Austrian dumpling noodles).
Norman attempts to tie in global culinary trends with traditional Austrian cuisine. He wants his kitchen to be cosmopolitan, but mixed with a national flair.
For lunch, the restaurant changes its menu monthly, basing the influences found in the culinary creations with different international cuisines eg. New York meets Vienna, or Mexico meets Vienna. This excludes the favourite resident classic dishes on the menu, like the Käsekrainer.
Besides the beef tartare, this cheesy sausage – normally eaten at a Würstelstand on a street corner – is this fancy restaurant’s signature dish.
All the talking, wine and filling dishes made us pretty sleepy, but we couldn’t resist desert – a voluptuous (yes, we just used that word in relation to desert and yes, the desert did make us a little horny), hot chocolate soufflé with vanilla ice-cream. We’ll simply shut our mouths here and direct your eyes to the photo below…
Being housed in the Palais Hansen Kempinski hotel, you kind of feel like you’re being sucked into a bubble that only exists in luxury hotels. The restaurant is divided into different sections, with oriental beehive-like grill dividers creating a layout which is arresting as soon as you’re welcomed at the door. The decor is designed to impress, with each section bearing a different look (and vibe). Meanwhile, in the main dining room the room is brought to life with a wall of shrubbery (which matches the green chairs – the only questionable element of the design, in our not so humble opinion). The open kitchens allow you to see the flavours in-the-making.
So yeah, this is not your everyday hangout as the prices will make you forget to breath for a moment, however, the trick to having an all-frills dining experience is to treat it like an experience to remember. Die Küche will certainly be a culinary joyride you will savour.