Reitbauer writes a new chapter in Austrian gastronomy
Rising from the banks of the River Wien in the form of a giant glass monolith, chef Heinz Reitbauer’s restaurant provides a striking counterpoint to the monuments that line the walkways of the Austrian capital’s Stadtpark. Because, while these stony tributes to local luminaries such as composers Strauss and Schubert honour Vienna’s glorious past, this ultra-modern fascia is the setting for a project aimed squarely at the future.
Since taking the reins of his family’s restaurant in 2005, Reitbauer, who trained under Joël Robuchon and Anton Mosimann in a Europe-spanning apprenticeship, has earned a reputation for marrying cutting-edge process with classical ingredients from his homeland. And in doing so, he’s writing a thrilling new chapter in Austrian cooking.
The restaurant’s signature dish is a case in point. The freshwater mountain fish, char, is cooked at the table in hot beeswax before being returned on a plate with yellow carrot, pollen and sour cream. Elsewhere, humble kohlrabi joins lamb belly and sea buckthorn in a fusion of technique and tradition.
Reitbauer’s cooking draws from Austria’s Styrian region from where his family hails, and strong links to this terroir run through the menu – not least in the fact many ingredients used in the kitchen come directly from the farmstead his parents established there in 1996. It’s farm-to-fork eating, but not as you know it.