Let’s start with the setting: Much like chef Heinz Reitbauer’s cuisine, the restaurant itself combines the historic with the uber-contemporary. The original building dates from 1904, but the striking mirrored-glass extension has walls that raise up in the summer months to create semi al-fresco dining in Vienna’s green Stadtpark. The blonde wood and concrete interior is airy, stylish, and sophisticated.
The art of hospitality: Steirereck has long been a feature at the upper end of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list – and while that’s undoubtedly down to the chef’s vision and skill, it’s also a reflection of the outstanding and ever-evolving hospitality that is proffered, all orchestrated by doyenne of the dining room Birgit Reitbauer. Her warmth, attention to detail and deep knowledge is reflected across the team, and has created an accessible atmosphere that attracts global gourmets as well as local frequenters, and also earned Steirereck the Gin Mare Art of Hospitality Award in 2021.
A taste of Austria: Chef Reitbauer, who has been at the helm for almost 20 years having taken over the family restaurant, has forged a unique culinary identity, which is heavily research-driven, sustainable and, of course, delicious. It’s also fundamentally Austrian, with numerous unknown or long-forgotten ingredients brought to the fore including rare breeds of meat and fish, near-extinct fruit and vegetable varieties. Herbs and vegetables are grown on the restaurant building’s rooftop, sitting alongside its own beehives. Dishes on the exquisite tasting menu (there’s also an à la carte option) include carp with peach, kohlrabi and St John’s Wort; sunflower and Jerusalem artichoke with lamb sweetbreads; sunflower with curry plant, yoghurt and yellow beans; and blueberry varieties with cyclame, chicory and caviar.
Trolley action: This restaurant – and its customers – love a well-laden trolley. The bread trolley shows off the creativity of Austrian bakers and their wide spectrum, with 25 varieties on offer. There are also aperitif trolleys, a tea trolley, a cheese selection to die for, one national and one international digestif trolley and, before Christmas, one for vanillekipferl – the traditional Austrian crescent-shaped biscuit.