On our last day in Vienna, I spent the morning working at a little cafe around the corner called Kaffemik, then we had a nice lunch at a homey place called Restaurant Chamäleon near St. Stephens, and then we took a tour of the Vienna opera house, but the best part of the day was our dinner -- I had been looking forward to it for days!
It was by FAR the highlight of Vienna for me.
Not only is this restaurant on my favorite named street in the city (Gutenberggasse -- hooray, Gutenberg!), but it has an awesome concept!
They call it "running cooking." The restaurant has no menu. You tell your server (who tells the chef) anything you don't like or are allergic to, and then they just bring you dishes -- everything is a surprise!
The basic dinner is three courses for 22 euros a person, and if you are still hungry after those three, they just keep bringing you new dishes until you say stop. (Each additional dish is between 5 and 7 euros per.)
It was the best!
We discovered after watching what other patrons were served that everyone basically gets the same dishes on a given night, but if you've said you don't like one of the main ingredients, etc., then they have an alternate dish (or two) for each course.
Our meal went like this:
First course: Lentils and a mushroom gravy with some kind of fried (?) cheese ball on top.
Second course: I had an octopus cake with avocado and greens, and my parents had a root veggie soup with sautéed mushrooms (after they nixed the octopus).
Third course: Salmon with sweet potato puree, cardamom, and maybe parsnips? The salmon was cooked PERFECTLY.
Then Dad and I got a fourth course, because why not?! It was calf meat with sweet potato "chips" and wasabi-flavored mashed potatoes in gravy.
Our waiter suggested an Austrian wine after we requested white over red, and it was light and went well with everything.
THEN (obviously) we got a dessert course. At first we were bummed it wasn't chocolate, but then we realized how delicious it was anyway: A cheese dumpling with some kind of tiny little dark berry, apricot chutney, and mint. NOM.
Perhaps to satisfy us, or maybe fate, when the server brought our check, we each also got a little chocolate truffle that was maybe the most amazing little piece of chocolate I've ever eaten!
Speaking of the service, our waiter was adorable and so helpful. He explained everything very patiently and smiled the whole time. His English was fantastic. (Consider learning and remembering phrases like "apricot chutney" and "chili tendrils" in another language!)
The restaurant is small and cozy, with dark red walls and a piano crammed in the corner, seemingly as an afterthought. The kitchen is smaller than you'd expect, and you can peek in through the door as you pass by to see a bit of the magic happening.
If I lived in Vienna, I'd come here once a month just for a thrill. We all ate dishes we'd likely never order off a menu, but we LOVED everything. It's nice to expand your horizons and surprise yourself sometimes! I totally loved this place -- I knew I would.
VERY highly recommended!