Da Max Huth – Grill House

I was baffled when I told my friends about my great dinner at da Max Huth and most people were like “Max,who?”. How is is possible but everyone knows Plachutta and his restaurant but no one knows Huth even though there are three restaurants with his name in the restaurant name and these three are all right next to each other – it’s like as if he owns the whole street.?!

But let’s start from the top of my stay at the restaurant. I decided to try the grill house (there is also an Italian restaurant and an Austrian restaurant), as I rarely can say no to a good steak, burger or beef tartar. When I arrived, the restaurant was booked out, or even more than that, because despite my reservation there was no free table. Right away I was invited to the bar (which is more a short wooden board attached to the wall where two people can get seated – so no points for bar ambience here ;-))  for a glass prosecco on the house. This was very attentive of the restaurant manager, as my dinner partner has not arrived anyway so I had to wait anyway – with or without a table.

Finally seated, I checked the menu and two things surprised me – firstly the price of a glass of wine: €5, except for the house wine which is not winning any prices (I would know, I tried it).  Secondly, a positive surprise for a big eater like me,  there was no steak on the menu below 200g (7 oz) – go beef lovers!!Casolette da May Huth

We started sharing a Casolette with Taleggio cheese and apple, served with sweet onion chutney and slightly grilled white bread. What can I say, a frying pan full of melted cheese can only be delicious – however, for apples being the second main ingredient in that dish it was very sparingly used.

Next was a Rib Eye Steak (300 g; 10,5 oz) medium rare. I do expect a steak cooked perfectly in grill house, hence I was a bit worried that the steak would be too bloody for my taste. IRib Eye Steak - Huth da Max was surprised though to find it to be cooked on the medium side, which is good for me as this was exactly as I like it, but it was not medium rare, sorry.
Note to myself: no matter where you order steak in Vienna, order it one degree more bloody than you like it.
Enough with that though, the steak was amazing. Juicy, perfect taste, perfectly medium cooked. I decided to have rosemary potatoes as complementary side instead of fries which was not the best choices as the rosemary  was parsley, and actually besides the green bits  the potatoes weren’t seasoned at all. The other complimentary side  – grilled garlic and herby garlic butter were both great.

I might seem very critical here, even though I started the review with a praise for the dinner, but I guess this is only in my nature expecting the best when paying my fair share at a restaurant. However, do net get encouraged to try this restaurant. I am pretty confident that you won’t get disappointed. Steak is great, service attentive, ambience homely but chic. The restaurant does not have a Gault Millau award yet as the other two restaurants do, but I could imagine it getting awarded next year.

Habibi & Hawara

The colorful restaurant Habibi & Hawara in first district between Schottentor and Schottenring, has a social background to it – refugees are trained in service and kitchen and are supposed to take over this restaurant at some point.
But this is not the only specialty about the concept of the restaurant:
In the evening there is a set menu, but customers are not informed about the dishes beforehand, but only know the price, which is €22.  Eager to try something new, we were not disappointed and had a chance to try many new dishes of which we have not heard before; …and neither have the waiters at some point, so we ended up eating a dish called “chicken with sauce” – quite exotic if you as me 😉

But lets start at the beginning. The set menu consists 4 platters, one with starters, one with vegetarian dishes, one main course platter, and finally dessert.
Starters: humus, maboush, Mediterranean salad as well as a spicy, saucy salad.
Vegetarian platter: some kind of risotto, some green vegetable, that tasted to me like a mix of mint and green tea, quinoa that tasted like smoked sausage,
Main dish: breaded asparagus, eggplant in a double cream, coconut sauce, white rice with minced beef, yellow rice with raisins and cashew nuts, chicken in sauce (tomato lemon)
Dessert: chocolate pudding with banana topping, white chocolate mousse with orange chest with strawberry sauce, baklava (not as you know it, but very good), a coconut cake soaked in sugar syrup and a cake filled with nougat, which was a bit too dry for me, but the others enjoyed it.
My personal highlights: the spicy/saucy salad for starter, the smoked sausage quinoa (not to be recommended for vegetarians though), yellow rice with raisins and nuts and as dessert baklava.

On the menu it was stated, that you can ask for more if you enjoy something very much. So when we had dessert we decided to ask for more baklava, as everyone of our party loved this treat. And after endless 10-15min we received two small, additional pieces of baklava – not that much considerint it was four us, but still they tried.

Also regarding service, I would say “they tried”, sometimes they even tried too hard. Too friendly, too quick in cleaning the table and bringing new a platter, and at the same time not well enough informed about what they are serving us.
Of course, they are still learning, but I hope, they find out soon enough that it is important to tell customers what they are eating, especially when there is no menu to read it up.

Still, I recommend trying this restraurant, if you want to get to know new tastes from the Middle East, and at the same time are happy to support a social project.

 

 

 

Mama Liu & Sons – modern Chinese

Not being a huge fan of Chinese cuisine I was still excited to try this restaurant as pictures of customer reviews made me think of my visits to china towns all over the world.
When entering the restaurant Mama Liu and Sons in the 6th district in Vienna, it reminded me right away of the Thai restaurant in London with two big square tables to sit various parties at one table. The dark room was pimped by a bar plastered with mirrors (and so is the bathroom right away).
Customers get a certain time slot for dining, so we worked through the menu rather quickly as we only had  1.5h and we were keen to get most out of it. The menu is divided into four sections – warm and cold appetizers, dim sum and hot pot.
We decided on a variation of small dishes, while we were still debating whether to share a hot pot or not.
Algae and mushroom salad was vinegary but tasty, roast beef yummy, the variation of steamed dim sum (pork, shrimp, veggie, fish) good, hot peppers in bean sauce great, rice noodles with peanut sauce good but the peanut taste could have been more dominant.img_2100
While munching away,hot pots got served in all three variations – seafood, meat, vegetable at tables around us. Only the latter one (vegetarian verions) looked good, but 19€ is a steep price for some chopped up veggies. Moreover the restaurant charges 1.5€  for ever additional plate. Which might be ok, when customers are not having anything but sharing a hot pot, but after trying two-thirds of all their dishes the extra charge did not seem appropriate. However, not even four pairs of beautiful eyes did make the servant make an exception on that matter so we were more intrigued to try three more small dishes: curry beef fried dim sum (very tasty), aubergine salad with red onions (my favourite of all salads), flat bread with ground beef, vegetables and shrimp which was a bit dry.
We finished up with coconut black bean mochi and almonds hazelnut mochi – a delicious tried to round up our feast.
Besides all the good food, there were some points that can be improved: firstly the table was set with four little cups with mixed soy sauce and spring onions as well as disposable wooden chopsticks. This would be ok, if the cups were served after we were seated and the chopsticks were wrapped in paper as normal, to keep it clean but they weren’t. More annoying though were the servants though, who constantly trired to clear our table even though the plates where still half full.
Nevertheless, I would recommend checking out this spot and eating your way through the menu, it’s definitely worth a visit. It seemed as if you can easily grab a seat at a bar even when the restaurant is full and that seat might allow you  to protect your plate from being taken away by any too eager servants.

Short trip to Berlin

Berlin, city number  two of my travel bucket list for 2016 did neither disappoint nor surprise me.
On my three-day short trip I managed to get a good idea of the city, its sights and history. Visiting with a friend from the UK it was a no brainer to only go to German restaurants where she had Schnitzel, Bratwurst and potatoe salad, and I had pork knuckle as well as curry sausage. For breakfast we went to bakeries to have German bread and pastries and she even tried three different types of German beer during our stay.

A personal highlight for us was lunch at House of Small Wonder – a place where the two of us had also brunch in Williamsburg,Brooklyn,NYC, 1.5 years ago. It is an American place with an Asian twist, loads of plants and cute furniture. I had eggs benedict with a wasabi sauce hollandais, and my friend a brie fig sandwich as well as a croissant french toast which she also had in Brooklyn.

On our first day, we explored KuDam with its shops and KaDeWe, walked up the broken tower of Gedächtniskirche, had a drink at Monkey Bar (rather expensive and bad service, but lovely view over Tiergarten from that roof top bar). After that we explored Haksche Markt and Hakesche Höfe – courtyards with nice boutiques, where I also had my first Qbo coffee. We ended the first night at the bar Mein Haus am See, which was alternative and hippster, just what I expected from Berlin.Berlin: Buildings
Next day we joined a 3.5h walking tour ( we did very well considering it was from 11am to 2:30pm and we had 29*C) to visit all important sights, as it is always more interesting to listening to someone than to reading it up. Our tour guide Lexi from Arizona, living in Berlin for one year now, did a good job talking about the political builings, the Wall, Checkpoint Charlie etc. and introducing us to the history of Berlin. After exploring Wall Memorial Center, East Side Gallary (graffitiy on remaining pieces of wall), we rested during the sundown near Reichstag, next to the canal with beer and aperol spritz, had a late dinner and cheersed to our final night at the roof top bar Solar, with a view of Berlin by night.

Berlin: Cathedral - Museums Island
On the last day we visited Reichstag and walked up the glass dome from where we had a great view again. After that we had enough time to stroll through the city and do what ever we felt like, as everything on the Berlin bucket list was visited by then. So we visited the cathedral and attended a 15min lunch service, we visited the Museum Topographie of Terror and sooner than we would have liked, we had our final drink in Germany’s capital city.

Berlin: Reichstag

I am super happy that I finally got to see Berlin with all its sights and at the same time was able to spend time with a very good friend of mine. And who knows, maybe I am coming back some time for running the half marathon in Berlin which I can imagine to be a great event. 

April in Vienna – summer is around the corner

Beginning of April, the sun made us enjoy an Aperol Spritz in the courtyard of Museums Quartier. This break was exactly what we needed after our all you can eat brunch at Sneak In in the seventh district.

I enjoyed the view from the first floor of the restaurant Lugeck (the sister restaurant of the well-known restaurant with its huge Wiener Schnitzel Figlmüller) as well as from  Bloom Bar lounge at Roteturmstraße – the perfect spot for people watching as they get ice cream from Zanoni & Zanoni. Also I got a late night dessert at 11:30pm and had one of the best ice cream I ever had: intense taste, and super creamy. The flavours of my choice were dark chocolate and poppy-seed. Delicious.

Another highlight in April, was the Japanese restaurant Mochi, where I had the best maki rolls in Vienna so far. You do need to book a table far in advance, but food is definitely worth the wait.

Not so convincing was however the burger at Said the Butcher to the Cow, and neither was the cheese cake tasting at Mariotte Hotel. This event takes place two times a year. People are invited to the lounge area to taste 6 different pieces of cheese cake.Mariott - Cheesecake Tasting
Guests can vote for their favourite which will then be offered and sold for one month – a marketing activity to motivate locals as well as tourists to not only sleep but also dine/have coffee in a hotel. Surprisingly, there was still cheese cake left 30min. before the end of the event and I made joing a group of three students, originally form Eastern Europe for the tasting. The cheese cake pieces where rather big but unfortunately disappointing in taste. The best cheese cake was raspberry and mint and the worst rosemary apricot. Either way, I would not spend 6 Euros for one piece of their cheese cake.

Culture

This month, I also enjoyed several cultural performances, so to say:
In a small theater in an even smaller street called Drachengasse, I saw the play “Jenseits von Fukurama” (“beyond Fukurama”) on a triangular stage with the audience sitting along two sides. Six actors were struggling with a crime – someone leaked a file from a company studying happiness; happyness whict is the driver in everyone’s live. This was a modern play, with fascinating texts which were challenging, amusing and made you question what’s going on in our world right now. A great piece. I will keep that theater on my radar, there might be more good plays comming up.

On the following day, I saw a classic: the musical Evita at Ronacher theater.
Critics were not good, as the voice of the main actress was apparently not fitting for the role. I however thought her voice was amazing, all actors played well, even though most of them were second cast. In my opinion, the first half was better because it was more energetic – obviously  it was all about how Evita gained power. The second half was still good and the play as a whole is worth seeing at Ronacher. For me, this evening was extra special as a friend of mine took me along when she got two free tickets which involved a little verbal intro before the play as well as some sparkling wine and sandwiches.

Then I decided to attend an (almost) free classic concert at Augustiner Chruch. The main service on Sundays includes always a performance of an orchestra and choir which is part of that church. For everyone who enjoys classical church music, this is the place to be next Sunday at 11am.

At the end of the month I took a short holiday and explored Marrakesh with a friend. This North African city has been on my bucket list for a while, and I was not disappointed. Find out more about my trip by reading my blog post about colourful Marrakesh.

Said the Butcher to the Cow

Said the Butcher to the Cow is a very simple restaurant opposite the opera house which might be the only steak house with only two steaks on the menu. Good thing that I went there for burger and that selection was way better.

I decided to have a beacon cheese burger and a friend of mine the Prawn burger with steak fries.
Generally speaking the burger was good; but not great.Said the Butcher to the Cow I was not asked how I would like to have my meat cooked and I got it well done, even though it would have been better medium. The beacon was very well grilled, but unfortunately it was grilled separately – so it was a loose piece instead of being one with the burger – attached to the cheese. The bun was fine, but the honey-mustard sauce (served on the side) was too much mustard and not enough honey for my taste, but I have to admit that I prefer sweet BBQ sauce over savoury sauces. Fries were ok, the portion was generous.
The prawn burger with pak choi looked good, especially because it did not only consist of prawns but a patty and prawns.

Service could have been more attentive and in general, the restaurant looks more fascinating from the outside than in the inside.
I personally do not have a reason to return to that restaurant – however, if you would like to have a decent burger in a restaurant with a gin menu which is four times as long as the food menu, Said the Butcher to the Cow is the place for you to go.

Patara – high end thai cuisine

In the city center of Vienna, next to Peter’s Church, you find the medium-sized fancy Thai restaurant Patara which also has a little terrace in front to sit outside during summer months.
Even though I usually always go with recommendations of the waiter, this time none of the recommended dishes were ordered. We started the evening in nice atmosphere with chicken satay skewers and grilled scallops with carrot muse and aubergine chutney.Chicken was deliciously tender and the peanut sauce was subtle in a good way – nothing like the thick sauce you usually get served in a small bowl with your skewers. Scallops were perfectly cooked, soft and the sweet sauce with a hint of vinegar was a good combination.Patara - food
For the main course we chose a beef pangang-curry and a red duck curry with pineapple and lychee, Jasmin raice as well as grilled iceberg lettuce. Meat in both curries was tender and the curry itself very tasty. The duck curry was a bit sweeter in taste but the real difference was, that the duck was served over a little candle in order to keep the dish warm which was indeed useful.

Service was very attentive and the bottle of Gelber Muskateller was lovely  and had a fair price.
I recommend that restaurant for good Thai cuisine but suggest ordering very different dishes, as everything will be placed in the middle so every one of the dinner party can try all the ordered dishes.