The dark cobblestone square sets a magnificent contrast to the brightly painted baroque Ulrichskirche church. The sun throws its rays through the thick green foliage of the trees, and in its holy shadow is Ulrich – white wooden tables and chairs in festive colours lined up in its pleasant courtyard garden. The scenery here reminds us of a café in Sydney. It’s fresh, vibrant and alive. And it has that Laissez-faire feel typical of city’s born in warm climates.
Funny about that. It was the cafes of Australia and New Zealand that inspired the design of Ulrich, according to owner Gerald Bayer.
“I drew a lot of the inspiration for the place from the fresh look of the cafes in Australia when I was there,” says Gerald.
After several years of running Café Halle im MQ, Gerald bought the former gasthaus Spatzennest here on Ulrichsplatz. It was a place that served old-school Viennese cuisine and was a a regular hangout for the regulars at the church.
“The residents in the surrounding neighbourhood really missed the Spatzennest, so I had to think of a concept that would mildly modernise the menu while at the same time stay as traditional to not shoo them away on the first day,” says Gerald. And the church crowd keeps coming.
“I want the place to be the local gasthaus for the people from the church, a fresh young café for breakfast, lunch and dinner and a bar for chilled drinks.”
The old gasthaus definitely got a makeover with grey leather upholstery, copper light shades, bare brick walls and solid oak tables creating an atmosphere as warm as your grandma’s patschn (slippers).
As for the menu: “I spent a lot of time on other continents, and I love the culture of sharing food. That’s why we offer small, starter-sized portions of our food too, so you can have more of them and try out new things more easily,” says Gerald.
We recommend you get a group of mates together, order 5 to 6 small plates and a Flat Ulrich to share. A Flat Ulrich is a homemade, crispy flatbread with various toppings. The pesto & parmesan, for example, or chicken caesar. We weren’t sure how to eat them, but we found a way, it being damn tasty and all.
The place has also become a favourite for breakfast after the queens of breakfast, Die Frühstückerinnen ranked them in their top ten breakfast in Vienna.
And we heartily agree, wiping the coffee moustache and baked bean tomato sauce from our upper lips.
Ulrich’s approach to fine food applies to its drinks as well. For Ulrich’s house wine, Gerald chose a Grüner Veltliner from Lower Austria, and a Heideboden from Burgenland.
“I love how in Italy, the house wine is palatable and really smooth, whereas in Austria they mostly serve you wine out of a Doppler of questionable quality. I wanted to change that and offer neat wine for a neat price,” says Gerald.
Gerald Bayer knows his way around liquids. So much so that he infuses his own spirits: behind the bar, you’ll see his glass vessels with his own vodka and liqueur shimmering inside.
They’re all used for homemade cocktails, far away from the usual suspects. Somehow, that’s what Ulrich describes best: It all seems familiar at Ulrich, but the creative twists in the details make this place extremely one-of-a-kind.