Friday, March 10, 2006
Hello from the former capital of the Hapsburg Empire -- Vienna, Austria - where I am attending a conference focused on health care reform/tobacco use. By far, the most interesting speaker was Dr. Brad Rodu from the University of Louisville -- http://www.smokersonly.org/
Since I am spending three nights in Vienna this posting is devoted to restaurant reviews using the Space Beagle "5 point scale" so let's get started:
Zum Weissen Rauchfangkehrer -- http://www.weisser-rauchfangkehrer.at, this restaurant is a short walk from the famous Hotel Sacher which is appropriate since it turns out this was the first restaurant owned by Franz Sacher, the creator of the "Sacher Torte" dessert. The restaurant's name translates to "Chimney Sweeper" and serves traditional Austrian cuisine. The wait staff was very attentive and professional and served pumpkin seeds between each course as a treat. Perhaps a boring choice but I had their wiener schnitzel which as very good especially with the cranberry sauce added. Overall the meal was good but from a value for money standpoint I would have to rate them with only a "3". The worst part of the evening was when we read on the menu that there was a "2 euro (about $2.40) tax on the music" because the restaurant had a live piano player!!! Due to this I left the restaurant with indigestion and an interest in serving in the Austrian Parliament to right this wrong.
Salm Brau -- this combination beer hall/restaurant is located on Taglich 11 - 24 Uhr Street and features an onsite brewing operation. Now this is a carnivore's dream venue especially the "Farmer's Banquet" meal which several of my colleagues ordered which included four kinds of meat!! I opted for a starter of venison ham served with rye garlic bread which was extremely excellent!!! For my main course I had a very respectable Austrian goulash (no noodles involved like my mom's goulash) which is very similar to American beef stew but with far fewer vegetables. I do which I would have started with a salad and had the venison ham for my main course -- really a very good dish. Due to ambiance and the venison ham/garlic bread I will rate them with a "3.5" . Definitely a nice venue for a large group looking for beers and a wide variety of menu items which included guacamole dip in the "International Cuisine" section of the menu.
Confiseria beim Ronacher (CBR)-- a very friendly cafe located at Seilerstatte 16 Street across from the "British Book Shop" which has a wide variety of books especially in their Current Affairs section. CBR had the most wonderful hostess I have met for years. She is a woman in her 60's who is very pro-American, very anti-European Union/EU, speaks 5 languages (I witnessed fluent English, German, and Italian plus she said she knew French and Spanish), and is a great cook. Indeed, she is a good woman, way too old for me, but I am already taken :) For my starter I had the chicken soup (excellent) followed by a small salad with beef/pork-filled pancakes which is tasty but a bit bland perhaps because I opted not to have the regular cheese included but overall I liked them. However, the highlight of this lunch (beyond the friendly conversation regarding the hostess's travels in the USA and why she hates the EU) was my dessert. I should have avoided it since I have an important 5k run fast approaching so I am in training but for dessert I had a small slice of "esterhazy" which is easily the best dessert I have had in my adult memory OTHER THAN my mother's "bing cherry bars" which I hope to bring to the consumer market someday if Mom is willing. Esterhazy is actually a Hungarian dish which became Viennese due to the Austro-Hungarian Empire. This is difficult since "Elements" in Phoenix set the criteria for receiving the "5" rating for Space Beagle restaurant reviews so I can only offer CBR a "4" with a suggestion to restauranters to focus on "matching your music with your cuisine" since I am very certain that Barry White is not Austrian.
Time to visit my hotel gym,