I only had five waking hours to spend in Vienna, that is not a lot of time to explore Austria’s capital and largest city. No worries. I didn’t need a lot of time to do one thing on my Vienna bucket list: Eat Wiener Schnitzel.
Wiener schnitzel is the breaded, deep-fried boneless veal dish that is a Viennese specialty. Did I mention deep-fried?
After much research, it was discovered that Figlmüller was the hot spot to indulge in this traditional dish. But, by 6:30 in the evening there was a line out the door with lengthy wait times for folks sans reservations (AKA: me). The clock was ticking on my short Vienna layover, so moving on was a necessity.
I walked down the street, back towards the subway with my eyes peeled.
There were several other restaurants along the way, but Plachutta on Wollzrile Street had a tempting menu outside, that featured the sweet little words that made my heart sing: Wiener Schniztel. Sold.
Being that this was a fancier joint of the white table cloth sort, and I was eating out alone, when I walked in and asked for a table for one at the prime 7 o’clock hour without a reservation, the hostess hesitated a moment. But, a man immediately came up behind her and offered me one of the two available seats at the bar.
Little did he know he was about to make my Wiener Schnitzel dream come true.
Before even ordering the server brought over an English magazine and printed newspaper in case the boredom of being solo set in. Very sweet.
Though, there was no need for these distractions as my IPhone is a very good dinner companion.
Then, thinking that I may not have enough reading material for someone eating an elegant dinner alone, the server also brought me the owner’s cookbook to peruse. This was actually quite helpful in identifying the ingredients in the foreign-to-me dishes and saved me having to ask 12,000 questions.
I quickly learned that Plachutta specializes in Viennese food and is home of the Tafelspitz, a classic boiled beef.
Their claim to fame obviously made me want to try it, but I just couldn’t stray from my original Wiener Schnitzel plan. So, I compromised with myself, which is pretty easy to do. I order the Tafelspitz appetizer (10,90 €), a big plate of schnitzel (20,90 €), and a local Austrian wine, Cuvée Privatkeller (6,70 €).
The Tafelspitz came to the table with runner beans, chives and pumpkin see oil dressing. The perfectly triangular gelatin beef was not the same as the traditional Tafelspitz, but a modern take on the Viennese tradition.
With the texture of a firm jello and the flavor of cold beef soup, you would assume it would taste horrible. But, it was the exact opposite. I doused it in the pumpkin seed oil and ate every bit except one last bite just to prove I wasn’t a glutton.
Next a bowl of Viennese potato salad was place on my table and a lemon cut in a unique squeezable shape that I had never seen.
These were both companions to the main dish: Wiener Schnitzel. I may have ordered too much food.
When the Wiener schnitzel was placed in front of me, my eyes could not have grown any larger. It was one huge piece of meat. And at that moment looked like one of the best foods in the world to me.
Wiener Schnitzel should not be served in or with a sauce, it is meant to be drizzled with enough lemon juice to cut the grease, but not soften the breading.
I squeezed the citrus on my meat and indulged.
This breaded escalope of veal was browned to perfection: tender, crispy and crunchy. I could have easily shared a dish this size, but what fun would that have been?
When the dessert menu was presented, I could barely look. But, through squinted eyes, there was glimpse of the word Schnaps liquor, another thing on my Vienna bucket list.
Who am I to test fate?
I ordered an apricot schnapps on the recommendation the the maître d. Warning: schnaps in Austria is strong. It wasn’t like the peach schnapps I used to drink in
high school college. This liquor tasted like straight vodka with the tiniest, smallest, minuscole hint of apricot.
I slowly sipped my schnapps having just had a tasty food experience, with the empty seat next to me still vacant.