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American Dream Cuisine™
The Steierstöckl in Vienna, Austria receives
5 Stars & Stripes - Award
5 Stars & Stripes for
Extraordinaire Cuisine & Service

The Ultimate Award:
Seven Stars and Stripes ™
"Eine gemütliche Gaststätte" (a charming eatery) the concierge at the Grand Hotel Wien said when I asked if he had ever heard of the Wirtshaus Steirerstöckl. As I started up the V-10 TDI Volkswagen Phaeton and punched in the restaurant's address into the GPS, I again felt reassured when the doorman wished us a "Guten Appetit" and reminded me to save room for dessert. What struck me as strange was that in a matter of a few minutes two people in this world class hotel had spoken so highly of this 'Wirtshaus', which is located within 15 minutes of the city center and offers "A little bit of country in the city" as a recently published NY Times article had stated.
As I drove up one of the many streets that radiate out from the center of Vienna, I began to see the character of the area changing from Imperial cityscape to gently rolling hills marking the start of the famous Vienna woods in which I will soon reach my destination.

Steirerstöckl is well known for its authentic regional cuisine coming from the Austrian province of Styermark and by the looks of the multitude of cars parked all over, the Viennese population has discovered its bountiful pleasures as well. The construction of the restaurant is rustic in keeping with the traditional cute cottage-like wayside structures that dot the countryside of provincial Styermark just waiting to offer up great cuisine in a warm chalet atmosphere.
Upon entering the front doors decorated with the fruits of autumn's bountiful harvest I was greeted warmly by a friendly smiling waiter as if I was invited to his home for a family dinner. I was shown to a table and even though the place was a buzz with animated patrons conversing in their sing-song Viennese dialect, our host still managed to exchange reassuring small talk to make me, a single diner, feel completely at home.

The Goach family, owners and operators of this restaurant and its companion Wirtshaus Jagawirt in Reinischkogel, Weststeiermark pride themselves on being able to offer exceptional regional cuisine, using local produce and meats in this especially well run and homey atmosphere.
I decided that I would first read the menu carefully to get a feel for what traditional 'Steirerisches' cuisine has to offer and then ask the chef to use his imagination to put together his own version of a fabulous dinner from start to finish complete with wine parings for each course. I was delighted to be offered a glass of 'Schilchersturm' as an aperitif as I had heard that it is most sought after by wine enthusiasts all over Austria at this time of year.
An adorable rose petal pink liquid arrived with a very fruity nose and a hint of raspberries; this is the fruit juice from red grapes gone over just slightly to almost wine. Next, I was introduced to Executive Chef Dieter Skrobanek who earnestly took the time to explain what was in store for us from a culinary standpoint.
I could now see how all the creative pieces began to fall into place as the first course arrived introduced by the delicate earthy aroma of fresh wild chanterelle mushrooms. This first course was served over the pungent flavor of arugula and topped with the perfect foil of sharp grana cheese and balsamic vinaigrette dressing.

The conscientious waiter seamlessly placed a glass of 'Gelber Muskateller '02', Riegelnegg Vineyards Südsteiermark next to my special starter.
707 - CURRY
I noticed a deep golden hue wafting big fruit and a dry finish with suggestions of apple blossom and rosebuds. So far so good I thought as I made a mental note to applaud the creative efforts of Chef Dieter and his capable crew, when the next course arrived. This time a consommé of black truffles baked in a crock covered by a puff pastry shell paired with a 'Sauvignon blanc '02', Sabathi Vineyards of Südsteiermark. Both were delightfully light and refreshing, a definite prelude of things to come.
Just when it occurred to me that I had finished two courses of which both contained wild mushrooms of various preparations, along came the third course of homemade spinach noodles, truffle filled potato croquets and you guessed it, more mushrooms!!

This time porcinis were added to the puree and topped with toasted almond slivers to provide depth and structure and quite honestly it tasted heavenly when paired with a 'Welschriesling '02', from the Scheucher Vineyards of Südsteiermark, a typically medium dry fruity rendition of the famous grape varietal.
Now, after a pleasant pause to enjoy the lively atmosphere of staccato laughter and the warmth of the glowing fireplace, it was time for the fourth course to be presented: Homemade sheep cheese raviolis in a light curry sauce drizzled with aromatic pumpkin oil, roasted wild onions and garden fresh tatsoy.
I had to keep reminding myself that there was more to come so I came to appreciate the delicate portions and lightness of the sauces while I prepared to take on the main course. The waiter placed a glass of CMB '02 (cabernet sauvignon, merlot, blaufrankirch) in front of me, by Rosi Schuster Vineyards of Burgenland, another of the great-undiscovered wine growing regions of Austria. While savoring the first sip I reflected on the deep purple plum color and the exciting morello cherry nose, it reminded me of an ample merlot with the youthfulness of a pinot noir and the slight tannin finish of a California cabernet.
The anticipation heightened as I relished the aftertaste of the CMB '02, when suddenly Chef Dieter himself arrived bursting with pleasure as he placed his unique creation on the table for visual dissection. Pan seared mountain stream trout filet caught in the glacially fed rivulets in the hinterlands of Steiermark, placed on top of fresh made pumpkin noodles with chopped fresh cooked pumpkin cubes and roasted pumpkin seeds.

The obvious health benefits of pumpkin aside, I truly enjoyed and savored every morsel and decided that I would have to bring a bottle of the locally produced pumpkin oil home to New York to be sparingly doled out on special occasions amongst friends and family.
I was now ready to call it a day but not so fast as I was quick to remember the prophecy of the doorman at the Grand Hotel Wien, 'Save room for desert', and at this time it had to come true. After a thorough clearing of the dinnerware and the crumbing of the table, I caught a sheepish glance from the waiter to sort of get a feel if I was in the mood to continue, and of course the answer was YES!

So far I felt the presence of steady imagination at work in the kitchen, carefully constructing each course while first building a foundation in the early stages, then adding height and depth through the use of locally grown produce and excellent selections of wines, and culminating with the gentle tease of sweetness to cap off the entire special event.
I wasn't disappointed when the pastry chef announced the arrival of a poppy seed soufflé decorated with fresh picked raspberries and blackberries, tenderly caressed by a sabayon made with the very fresh raspberry scented 'Schilchersturm' that was presented to us as an aperitif at the start.

To compliment this seductive statement was the dessert wine Ruster Ausbruch '98 from Feiler-Artinger Vineyards Burgenland, which is produced using the Welschriesling and Weissburgunder varietals.
I don't really know how to thank Peter Goach and his family for this crash course in regional Steiermark cuisine, but we must say that those who will venture forth to the foothills of the Vienna woods will always covet within themselves the glowing ember of this exciting and fulfilling discovery. Although quite past my usual bedtime, I posed for some friendly photos and made each other a promise to meet again someday at Steirerstöckl to celebrate our common love for outstanding comfort food. Happy Trails! and 'Mahlzeit'!
by John Lomitola & Rolf Staehler

Editor-in-Chief: Ingrid Lemme

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Although the above information was accurate at the time of publication, it can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all pertinent information with the companies in question before planning your trip.

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