If a restaurant opens in March and is already praised as „opening of the year“ it’s kind of weird. Greek-styrian chef Konstantin Filippou has opened a new restaurant in Vienna and received frenetic praise from all around. Remembering well his cooking from the former Novelli, why not go there and see for myself ?
The restaurant is situated in a not so mondane corner for Vienna’s first district. From outside it looks very reduced (indeed so reduced, that I forgot to take a picture). We entered the restaurant – to be confronted with the first disenchantment of the evening: Though we’ve made a confirmed reservation via email, they forgot to book our table. No problem we waited (normally, I would expect to get some aperitive on the house now)…and were given a rather improvised table in the side room, where a big party of hot-shot-gastronomy-blog-supercool-persons hung out their noisy coolness. Well, so nothing about the straight, reduced „temple“ of a main room, where you can see into the kitchen. Whatever.
The service was rather stressed (one waiter for the whole room), so it took quite some time ‚til we could order. There are two menues with up to six courses (75/85 €) and a wine pairing for 49 €. Coming very hungry was a mistake – until the couvert was served a lot of time passed, and the couvert itself (3.5€) turned out as a tiny piece of butter and one (1!) piece of bread per person. The malt bread was actually good, but it was quite annoying during the evening to always have to reorder bread. We shared menue one and two – so for every course there will me two different plates described. I also took the wine pairing.
We started off with some amuse bouches:
Amuse bouche: Stockfish spread, potato, trout tartar
The stockfish spread was nice, very salty, intense and a bit smoky. The potato was a joke (sorry) – I mean, it was a potato with a slice of raddish on top. The trout tartar was quite neutral (I suppose that’s good, talking of raw fish).
The concept of the menue is to offer always two plates at the same time, giving a variation on one topic or main ingredient.
M1: Fine de claire oyster, trout, alga, cucumber, rice-cream
M2: Duck liver parfait, tongue, pea, pear
M1 started with oysters: The one on the right side was quite nice, wrapped into cucumber – the fresh, watery taste of the cucumber was a nice contrast to the intense saltiness. The trout on the right side was a bit too subtle for the umami-salt attack.
The first course of M2 was centered around duck liver. The cubes were filled with duck liver parfait and pear mousse. A nice combination, though the fruit dominated vey much. On the right side there was a slice of tongue (soft, nice) combined with duck liver and peas – which was quite good.
M1: Artichoke, chervil tuber, pata negra, pecorino
M2: Grey mullet, peanut, kohlrabi, brioche
A very nice combination of vegetal aromas and intense, meaty taste. The creamy artichoke fittet very well with the pata negra and the chervil slices built a nice texture contrast. One of the highlights of the evening.
The (tiny piece) of grey mullet was nicely fried, with a perfect crispy skin and some peanut/cauliflower on top and a peanut sauce around. On the right side some tartar of grey mullet was wrapped into kohlrabi leaves, which was quite neutral in taste. But the peanut butter on top was terrible and kicked down all the other aromas on the plate.
M1: Escargot, marrow, beetroot, lovage
M2: Pork belly, onion, egg, eel, sorrel, barley
This was unfortunately a mess: The fried escargots tasted like old oil, which ruined the whole dish. A shame, because the bread cream and the beet root would have gone quite nice with them – and the fried marrow of course too.
A little bit of everything here for M2: The pork belly was cut very thin and nice. The jus with vegetables was quite good, not too intense. The different kinds and preparations of onions gave the dish a nice twist. But the eel on top was a little bit too much in my view. The egg was a nice addition though.
M1: Poached mackerel, horseraddish, topinambour, may turnip, dill oil
M2: Ray, calf’s head, paprika
A vey minimalistic dish, with a lot of potential: The young mackerel was perfectly poached, soft and juicy. But unfortunately it had a very bitter taste that even intensified in the aftertaste (again, maybe poor product quality). A shame.
I honestly had to ask the waiter where the calf’s head was hidden – because there was nothing to taste. Solution: It was under the fat slice of marinated and grilled paprika (no wonder, I couldn’t taste it). The ray was grilled but had a certain bitter aftertaste, which points me toward poor product quality.
M1: Rabbit, octopus, pomme maxime, black salsify, celery, olive crocant, juniper
M2: Pigeon, confit leg, quince, cauliflower, pigeon liver cream, sherry
Meat number 1 ! The rabbit was wonderfully cooked and very tender, contrasted by a crunchy piece of octopus topped with olive crocant. A very nice and balanced dish.
Meat number 2 ! The meat was very well prepared – both the confit leg and the fillet were prepared to the point. The leg was very juicy and tasty. The fillet was good too, but had a giant tendon in the middle which was a downer. The cauliflower purree with the sherry jus were nice. The cigar on the right was rather tasteless.
M1: Apple-rhubarb, salted almond ice-cream, honey, apple donut
M2: Chocolate, sour cherry, malt, beer ice cream, crumble
Well…dessert. The apple dessert war quite nice. The chocolate one was sweet, and there was some berry. But not balanced, not in an interesting way – rather blunt. The beer ice cream with crumble one the other hand was very good.
All evening long the plates were brought to the table but not really explained, there seemed to be no time for that. The wine pairing was quite a disappointment: We never saw the sommelier all evening long, the waiter poured our glasses in an arbitrary timeframe (15 minutes before the food arrived up to 10 minutes after the course arrived), sometimes even forgot to do so. Some of the wines were incredibly young and not drinkable (Assyrtiko 2012, when so young it smells like a toilet on a sunny day), others were quite nice but would have gained through ressourceful explanation.
As we asked for the bill, we had to wait again quite a long time – so that we got up. After paying, as a last minute present some cookies were presented to us:
After all, it was a rather disappointing experience. The dishes had a lot of potential that was not met – due to different reasons. The preparation of the dishes was good, but sometimes they just lacked of a certain something. The service was in our case insufficient. On top, the portions were very small (even with rather cheap ingredients like grey mullet) – we left hungry and were lucky to find cheese at home.