If I were to make a personal recommendation for anyone looking to dine out in Vienna, assuming they share the same kind of wine obsessions as I do, then I suppose I’d have to go with Mast Weinbistro. However, Mast was closed during the week we were there in January, and if you ever find yourself in the same position, then the following pair of restaurants will not disappoint…far from it. The first was completely new to me (a friend suggested it for lunch together), whilst the second is a place I always go to, every visit, if I can.
Tian Restaurant (there’s a bistro version as well) is Vienna’s first Vegetarian and Vegan restaurant to earn a Michelin Star, and I’d say that this accolade is more than deserved. It has very much the smart feel of a Michelin-starred restaurant, a clean white interior, fairly sparse, smart tables, comfortable chairs, etc.
Service is also impeccable, attentive but not intrusive, and unusually warm. There was never more than one waiter visiting the table, and none of that multiple hovering which can be off-putting in some smarter establishments when it’s a little bit quiet (no one really likes to be watched whilst they eat).
The format is simple. At lunch you get a menu of eight dishes, described quite simply but each based around a single vegetable, cheese or nut. You pay €89 for four courses, €109 for six courses, or €127 for all eight. We opted for four, but we seemed to get quite a few amuses bouches. The cooking is inventive and creative, and the ingredients are very fresh, as you would expect. What interested me was that our friend is an inveterate carnivore and he seemed to enjoy the experience as much as we did.
Tian describes itself as vegetarian, and the menu as listed does contain various forms of dairy in some courses. However, if you warn them when booking they are more than willing to accommodate a vegan diet with just the same degree of invention.
The best thing about Tian is that the wine list is just as good as the food. A wine (or juice) pairing is available with each menu option (€49/€69/€73), but the list itself covers most bases, from natural to classic, all wines which accompany what are generally lighter dishes. We just opted for our own type of lunch classic, Rennersistas In A Hell Mood (Pinot Noir-based petnat from Gols in Burgenland…which needs no introduction to regular readers).
Tian is at Himmelpfortgasse 23, 1010 Wien, which is probably a ten minute walk around the back of Saint Stephan’s Cathedral. Tian Bistro Am Spittelberg is doubtless less expensive, at Schrankgasse 4, 1070 Wien. They also have another restaurant in Munich. If you fancy a splurge then check it out. Next time we shall probably check out the bistro.
I’ve been to Glacis Beisl, tucked behind the Museumsquarter, in the old city walls just a short walk from the Ringstrasse, several times now. It is ideally my first port of call in the city, to satisfy my schnitzel craving, although on this trip it provided a nice, quiet, last night dinner for two.
I wrote about Glacis after our August visit, but it’s worth a second plug in order to talk a little more about the wine list. When I tell people that Glacis has an excellent selection of natural wines, they are often slightly surprised. The first reason is that Glacis is quite a Vienna institution, a great example of the Beisl format, which provides fairly simple but substantial food and a “local” atmosphere, but at the same time it is not unknown to tourists.
The second reason is that when you sit down you are presented with a fairly short and limited wine list, albeit one with a selection of wines by the glass, with which most people are satisfied. However, if you ask for the “red book”, you will not only find a more substantial and interesting offering, what’s more, the prices are pretty reasonable, some probably less than UK retail.
In particular, there’s a good multiple bottle selection from Gut Oggau, Claus Preisinger, Reinisch, Werlitsch, Muster and Strohmeier, plus other classic labels from Central Europe (Gravner and Radikon, for example). As in Mast, you can pretty much have a field day for natural wine at Glacis.
Although the photos are frankly not great, I thought I’d reproduce a few pages here to give a taste of what’s on offer. Click to enlarge.
We drank a bottle of Alexander Koppitsch Weissburgunder 2017 (well, after the Koppitsch party a couple of days before I felt duty bound). It was beautifully aromatic, from old, low yielding vines, a natural fermentation, unfiltered and no additives (including zero sulphur added).
I remember that back in Alsace in 2017 I was drinking Pinot Blanc in restaurants and wondering why I’d more or less shunned the grape for so many years. This lightish Weissburgunder was a very good pairing with a simple but well cooked schnitzel with its traditional accompaniment of waxed boiled potatoes, beetroot and salad leaves. This Pinot Blanc is adorned with the simplest of the Koppitsch labels too, but it is lemony-fresh, with a little texture in the mouth, and very thirst quenching.
The regions around Vienna are particularly good for apricots, especially The Wachau, and you can easily be tempted to choose an apricot-based dessert. The traditional apricot dumplings are pretty filling, but the apricot pancakes at Glacis are just a little lighter. It’s always hard to choose what to drink with this dessert, so I decided on a Kracher Beerenauslese and an apricot schnapps, in the spirit of last night “in for a penny but I still have to get to the airport early tomorrow”.
A tip on apricot jam – I rarely fail to bring back some apricot jam from Vienna, but it is always the brand Staud’s. They come in a small 250g jar (usually with an attractive picture on the lid, maybe a Klimt, maybe the Hofburg) and are readily available, and cheaper in a supermarket like the Billa chain than in the tourist shops. They are less sweet than most brands, and contain a high fruit concentration (60g per 100g). Try some. A nice gift, except that I’m too greedy.
Glacis Beisl isn’t initially the easiest place to find, mainly because you have to descend some fairly unprepossessing steps to enter. The restaurant itself has a lovely garden for outdoor dining, though not recommended in winter, an attractive glass room and a darker inner sanctum more indicative of the traditional beisl style.
You can access it via the steps up the side of the MUMOK Museum in the Museumsquarter, or by the road behind – Glacis Beisl is at Breite Gasse 4, incidentally not too far from the Tian Bistro, and equally not very far from the natural wine shop, Vinifero, which will get a plug in my next Vienna article.
To read about my visits to Glacis Beisl and Mast Weinbistro last summer (and a few other Vienna recommendations), follow the link here.