Writing by Peter Hilton

Out in Vienna - Tuesday, 23 February 1999

Daily research on Viennese nightlife.

contents | forwards to 24 February

Wein-Comptoir, Bäckerstrasse, 6

This is one of those places that doesn't exist in the UK - rustic and traditional, but also rather smart. It's all curved high ceilings, dark hidden corners, white walls and lots of old dark brown woodwork. Very ethnic.

The menu is a bit of a challenge - not only is it in German, which I had expected of course, but the handwriting is completely obscure. My obvious difficulty has prompted the waiter to bring me the English version. My next game, since I'd like to learn to cope better with German menus, is to try to match dishes on the English menu with dishes on the German menu. Not easy, because the English menu is only mostly translated from German and has only most of the same choice of dishes.

Vienna: the view from the office where I worked at the UN While I'm waiting for my food I get to sample a cross between lard and pate with some of that heavy ultimate-roughage Germanic bread. It's a bit like the French rillettes and tastes just as good, and probably brings an early heart attack just as quickly. In fact, there is so much bread to have with this that I didn't need to have ordered a starter after all.

I'm glad that I did order a starter though - the herring salad is excellent. While eating it, rather than reading my book, I notice that there are hundreds of empty wine bottles around the walls and up near the ceiling. There are also quite a few people at the bar sampling glasses of the open wines listed on the blackboards. My glass of mineral water looks a bit pathetic in comparison.

My main course, a big lump of beef in red wine sauce with potatoes and a few morsels of veg, is amazingly good. I haven't had vegetables cooked so well, or that taste so good, for ages. Not that I'd know yet, but I suspect that this is all fairly expensive for Vienna - AS400 (about twenty quid) for two courses and mineral water. In any case, you would probably pay twice that for the same high quality in London or Paris.

Out In Vienna contents | forwards to 24 February