Writing by Peter Hilton

Out in Vienna - Tuesday, 2 March 1999

Daily research on Viennese nightlife.

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Santo Spirito, Kumpfgasse

This might turn out to be a slightly healthier meal than yesterday's. At the very least, I'll start with some vegetables and then have something with a salad. The menu is generally Spanish, with funny-looking German names for the dishes. This means that the vegetables will be drenched in olive oil, and my vegetable tortilla main course will be drenched in olive oil.

There is also an interesting looking breakfast menu, with suitably civilised times - you are permitted to have breakfast well into the afternoon. Which is just as it should be.

Anyway, this is yet another place that is not sure whether it is a bar, a restaurant, or a cafe. I reckon it's a restaurant, with a bar by the door, and a 'cafe room' thrown in at the back for good measure.

Vienna: the roof of the natural history museum (I think)

Santo Spirito is distinguished by being unusually booked and busy, this evening as it was yesterday evening, as well as by the loud classical music. The atmosphere is really energetic, with everyone talking animatedly and loudly so that they can be heard above the music.

Inspired by the atmosphere, and the excellent cold mixed-vegetables (in oil) that are my starter, I have decided to try one of the green olives. The thing is, I'm a bit fussy about my food. I've never eaten a whole olive all by itself: I had part of a black one once, but it was horrible. As I cut a small piece off the side of the olive the music - Tchaikovsky - is building up a big crescendo; the suspense is palpable. So is the small piece of olive in my mouth, which is rather nice actually. The flavour is still a bit strong for my taste, but it is excellent with the other vegetables.

I've got a warm feeling inside after that, although that could be thanks to the quarter litre glass of delicious red wine that I've just finished.

My main course, a vegetable tortilla, has a bit too much oil but then it's probably the only way to make it moist enough now that restaurants aren't allowed to serve half-cooked egg. It is good, though, as is the side salad.

Lots of marks out of ten for this place!

(Back again, at 7 p.m. three days later, it is much quieter. We have to eat this early because I want to eat here, rather than somewhere else, and it's all booked up for later on. With fewer people and more relaxed classical music the atmosphere is much calmer this time; I wonder if they're open all afternoon at the weekends...)

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