There are two two Michelin starred restaurants in Vienna and as we couldn’t manage to bag a reservation at Steirereck in Stadtpark, we opted for Silvio Nickol at Palais Coburg. It’s a grand old hotel to say the least.
The dining room was a dramatic space with an amethyst filled wall at one end being the main focal point. It was a bit like being in a Bond villain’s lair; I half expected to see a bald chap stroking a pussy at the end of our table.
It was proper ‘posh’ from the get go. We were first greeted with a champagne trolley followed by the wine list featuring around 60,000 bottles, which was a little daunting. We opted for the 7 course tasting menu at €168 (around £120 per person).
To start, some impressive snacks. River trout with radish and mustard; octopus, pepper and sesame; chicken skin, coriander and lime and pork belly, soja and radish. All were as beautiful as they were delicious.
A simple yet decent sourdough was served with two different types of butter, one coloured grey using ash, which were as light as anything; like marshmallow mix.
Our first course featured chunks of black kingfish with cucumber and bronze fennel. It was easy on the eye and tasted absolutely divine. A sphere of cucumber foam actually tasted of cucumber which was really impressive.
The next dish was really intriguing; the duck liver parfait had been made to look like mushrooms on a forest floor. The shards of rippled chocolate were a great addition as they added to the richness of it all. It came with a light brioche roll which would have been nicer if it had been served warm.
The langoustine was served with its tail end still attached and it was by far the best bit of langoustine I’ve ever encountered. The accompanying peas, wild broccoli and wild garlic sauce were perfect companions.
Wild char with caviar and asparagus saw a soft chunk of moist fish with shards of crisp skin and loads of salty balls that exploded in my mouth. The next dish of egg yolk topped with sweetbreads and parsnip, served in an egg shell, came inside a dish filled with smoke which added a touch of theatre – click here to see that ever important Vine.
Fillets of perfectly cooked dove (the language barrier stopped us from working out whether dove is in fact just pigeon) were far sweeter than any game we’ve had over here before. The morels were like sponges for the rich sauce but the potatoes were practically raw, a small but surprising mistake for a kitchen cooking at such a high level.
A palate cleanser of sweet cheese ice cream with lime sorbet and a herb soup was the perfect pathway to pudding; rhubarb, fennel, sour cream and sorrel. The clever blend of sweet and savoury ended things on a definite high. Throw in some petit fours and it was quite easily one of the tastiest meals I’ve ever had.
The only thing that let the whole thing down was the service. Everyone was certainly very sweet and lovely and friendly but by the end of the meal we had been abandoned at the table. I needed a flare gun to get the bill. The whole meal took four hours which is fine, but one of those hours could have easily been shaved off if everyone had been a little more efficient. That said, in terms of food, it was a meal most memorable.