In Bourdain’s footsteps: Antica Macelleria Cecchini

Before going to Tuscany we watched the corresponding episode of Anthony Bourdain’s „No Reservations“ (S3E16) which is quite fun. In this episode Bourdain visits a butcher shop/burger joint/meat place of Dario Cecchini – seemingly a quite famous butcher. Being in the area anyways, we paid a visit.

Antica Macelleria Cecchini (the full name of this notorious place) is located in the picturesque village of Panzano in Chianti. As every village in Tuscany it has an antique castle and many, many vineyards. Since the village is located on a hilltop, the view is amazing. Dario’s place is located right in the center:

Antica Macelleria Cecchini - Outside

Antica Macelleria Cecchini – Outside

After seeing „No Reservations“ I was prepared for hundreds of tourists. And in high season that may be so. Since we went in June, there were not that many people around. If you enter through the historic front you come right into the butcher shop…

Antica Macelleria Cecchini - Butcher shop

Antica Macelleria Cecchini – Butcher shop

…in which Dario stands. A very friendly and humongous man, not exactly as theatralic as on TV. The butcher shop itself is rather disappointing as a shop – they basically sell, what they also serve in the restaurant plus some salumi. Through the back of the shop you enter the restaurant:

Antica Macelleria Cecchini - Inside

Antica Macelleria Cecchini – Inside

The restaurant is quite nice, with big shared tables and rather modern interior. They grill burgers and steaks on open fire as you can see. The restaurant opens to a big outside area (for the hundreds of Chinese tourists…). Dario offers during day a rather economic option called Dario DOC where he serves bits and bites made of – correct – meat. In the evening he also has a more sophisticated and intimate dinner option called „Officina della Bistecca“. We went for Dario DOC and started with the smallest (and probably most expansive) beer I’ve ever seen 🙂 Water is for free though.

Antica Macelleria Cecchini - Small beer

Antica Macelleria Cecchini – Small beer

This is an „Accoglienza“ plate (20€):

Sushi del chianti - Tonno del chianti - Arista n porchetta - Cosimino in salsa ardente - Fagioli

Sushi del chianti – Tonno del chianti – Arista in porchetta – Cosimino in salsa ardente – Fagioli

The beef tartare (sushi, left down) was very nice – meaty and juicy and quite pure as I like it. The arista are junks of medium fatty pork, roasted with herbs which were good but a bit too dry. Tonno del chianti (right up) was a fatty piece of pork, cooked and seasoned very well and it actually tasted like tuna – really great. The cosimino (left up) was to sweet to my taste – it was like eating meat loaf with marmalade. In the middle a bowl of the rather tasteless and ubiquitous beans. Together with a plate there were some raw vegetables to dip into salt and olive oil.

Mac Dario

Mac Dario

Mac Dario (10€) was a honest plate: a 250g beef burger, perfectly prepared and very tasty. Together with fresh fried potatoes with sage a great dish for a fair price.

Dario is definitely a fun place to stop by – maybe not worth a detour, but if you’re in the area you can take a look. Overprized for sure but on the other hand also fun (especially if you like Bourdain and have him in mind sitting there). I would love to try the Officina della Bistecca next time I’m in Tuscany…

A new burger in town – Burger De Ville@25hours hotel

A decent burger is as hard to find as it is a true feast for all the senses. Forget all the bull about being unhealthy, having too much meat and the like. It’s burgers ! After Berlin city, also Vienna has a new burger place by 25hours hotel – the Burger de Ville. In the media appraised as „Berlin’s best burgers“ I was of course waiting for something special.

The burgers are sold out of an vintage, american-style trailer. Shiny and polished it is placed on a nice and fairly quiet spot in the city center, right next to the 25hours hotel. It is the second franchise, and as it seems more are planned. In front of the trailer are some benches, but as the weather get’s nicer the meadow invites you to chill out on the grass a bit.

Burger De Ville trailer

Burger De Ville trailer

The place is nice. The service (all germans) is very relaxed – sometimes too relaxed to realize you, even if there is no crowd there. They advertise to have 100% angus beef, which seems to be of german origin. The burgers are offered in single/double size, as sides there are fries (salted/parmesan-rosemary/garlic-parsley) and some sauces.

Single BBQ burger, sauce and jalapenos, fries with parmesan cheese

Single BBQ burger, sauce and jalapenos, fries with parmesan cheese

The presentation is very nice, the food is served on wooden platters and looks delicious. First impression: The burger (single) is VERY small. The bread is definetely better than standard „McDonalds“ bread, but you taste the corn flour a lot and it is also a little on the dusty side. The meat patty is very thin (approx. 8mm), it tastes good – very meaty with a nice maillard-touch, though it was also quite dry both times I tried it. The first one was a BBQ-Burger, which had a really good sauce inside. The fries were OK, though a more salty and intense cheese would have been great (like greek kefalotyri). The chili mayonnaise was not hot and boring convenience.

Single classic cheeseburger

Single classic cheeseburger

My second try was a single cheeseburger. Made with Emmental, it lacked some kind of spicyness and the cheese was not „cheesy“ enough. Again the patty was very thin and on the dry side.

The single burgers are between 4.4 and 5.3 per piece (calculate 10€ for a whole menue) – but even together with fries they won’t make you full! I would recommend a try – if you are not really hungry go there, grab a burger and enjoy the sun. But I’m afraid I won’t become a regular there…

St. Ellas: Bobo’s living room

Vienna’s seventh and eigth district are known to be the natural habitat of hip, young and not-so-young-any-more artists and creatives. Being creative all day, they also want to eat from time to time…a true living room bar/bistro/grill just comes right here: The St. Ellas !

The St. Ellas is actually a spin-off of the more gourmet-oriented Gaumenspiel, both restaurants share a common courtyard, that is really beautiful. The restaurant itself presents itself very casual, the tables are near to each other and it is quite loud – the Austrian version of a french bistro. The separation of smokers/non-smokers is not optimal – you enter the restaurant through the bar where everybody smokes and also in the non-smoking area there is this distinct smell, which is kind of a downer.

Inside/Bar

Inside/Bar

Patio

Patio

The restaurant offers casual kitchen, there are (well priced!) steaks from the grill and many snacks. The service was friendly, but not very present which is okay for a restaurant of this kind. The wine menue is not too big but offers well priced wines per glass. As a first course I went for the „Tapas“:

Tapas

Tapas

Not really Spanish, but still a very nice variation of the theme. It was a mixture of Austrian-Mediterranean-Spanish appetizers, all good in quality and taste. I especially liked the smoked trout and the prawn.

Papaya Salad

Papaya Salad

Then Papaya salad – sounds strange but was actually quite good! The crunchy sald went along quite nice with the fruity acidity of the papaya and the nuts…

Tuna Sashimi Pizza

Tuna Sashimi Pizza

The Tuna Sashimi pizza is something like a signature dish of the restaurant. To be honest it was a bit disappointing: A baked pita (a bit hard and dry), topped with wasabi-cream (not really spicy), tomatos and raw tuna sashimi of good quality. All was sprinkled with cress. The dish lacked a certain twist, maybe some real wasabi or some soy sauce – so it was quite boring.

Burger and fries

Burger and fries

The burger was very tasty, nice soft bread and a (small, though good) beef patty. The homemade fries were good too. All in all it was a bit small for the price. If it is the best burger in town, as often stated ? You have to decide for yourself….

Lime tirami-su

Lime tirami-su

Hm. Lime tiramisu….a little bit weird, because it was no real tiramisu. No Mascarpone, no ladyfingers. It was curd-based, which I didn’t like very much and had cantucchini inside. The lime taste was nice anyway.

All in all it was a relaxed evening in a busy, yet comfortable atmosphere. The prices are reasonable and so is the quality – we paid approx. 30€ per person with drinks and food.

Burger. Did you say BURGER ?

Finding a decent burger is quite a bit of work. But finding a REALLY good burger is very hard! So today I’m writing about one of my absolute favorites in Vienna: Die Burgermacher.

The restaurant is situated in a very hip district of Vienna („Spittelberg“), quite small and most of the time full with young, hungry people. It is run by Babsi (the cool blonde) and Jan (the man in the kitchen). Babsi studied economics AND is from upper Austria but nevertheless she’s a nice person 🙂 They graduated from Slowfood University and apply Slowfood principles on the probably most misunderstood dish: The Burger.

Die Burgermacher - bar/entrance

Die Burgermacher - bar/entrance

Die Burgermacher - inside

Die Burgermacher - inside

The Burgermacher offer 3 standard burgers (classic, heavy meat, mexican), 2 vegetarian burgers (e.g. tofu, polenta, falafel, halloumi) and 1-2 specials with seasonal ingredients or more exotic meat choices (pig, horse, lamb). Side orders are fries or salad, sometimes with an exotic twist (red or purple/blue fries).

Burger, fries and ketchup

Burger, fries and ketchup

These burgers are really special: First of all they use good products (organic meat, organic bread) from great suppliers. Secondly they prepare most of the things on their own (hand cut fries, freshly minced meat, homemade ketchup and sauces).

The outcome are the most tasty burgers ever. The bread has an amazing texture, the meat is grilled yet juicy and very tasty. The fries are crunchy and taste very potato-y. My favorite part is the ketchup, that is fruity, with a little sweet-cinnamon aftertaste that I simply love. Personally, I dont’t like the veggie-burgers – go for the heavy meat or a seasonal one.

Babsi is also the queen over a huge beer-cooler, that offers about 2 dozens of different beers in a good price-range (3-5 euros) and is always good for a surprise! For a meal with a beer you should calculate 15 euros/person. GO THERE. EAT.