Urban-rural setting: In the centre of Vienna, but seemingly surrounded by nature, the esteemed Steirereck is located riverside in the city’s Stadtpark. The original building hails from 1904 but an uber-contemporary monolithic extension includes mirrored glass walls that magically disappear into the ground in summertime, to make for near al fresco dining. Otherwise, expect a light-filled vision of blonde wood, rough-luxe concrete and crisp white linens.
Austrian food? Unchallenged as its country’s premier dining establishment, Steirereck’s menus showcase rare breeds, unfashionable fish species, near-extinct fruit and vegetable varieties and much more in truly exquisite plates. Highlights might include veal from Pogusch cooked over charcoal and served with braised cabbage and artichokes; sunflower and Jerusalem artichoke with lamb sweetbreads or the signature char fish cooked tableside in beeswax with yellow carrot ‘pollen’ and sour cream. What’s more, pastry is a speciality, and there are more than 25 varieties of bread on offer. While the taste spectrum is international, the dishes are seasonal and deeply Austrian.
The people: Heinz and Birgit Reitbauer are the chef and front of house doyenne respectively. While the restaurant has been in the family for generations, only under the couple’s tenure has it become a byword for cutting-edge cooking rooted in the Styrian countryside. Chef Reitbauer is dedicated to agricultural research as well as cooking, hence the unusual ingredient sourcing. His wife oversees every detail of service, from the mouth-watering wine list to the sprawling cheese offering, with precision and grace. She and her team’s attention to detail, unflappable knowledge and genuine warmth also earn Steirereck the Gin Mare Art of Hospitality Award 2021.
Anything else? While the tasting menu is undoubtedly the best way to engage with Reitbauer’s concept, the à la carte offering includes plenty of gems, too. Wild boar’s head with purple carrots and pineapple, local pike and a modern take on goulash with spelt and medlars have people coming back for more.