Awards and citations:

1997: Le Prix du Champagne Lanson Noble Cuvée Award for investigations into Champagne for the Millennium investment scams

2001: Le Prix Champagne Lanson Ivory Award for

2011: Vindic d'Or MMXI – 'Meilleur blog anti-1855'

2011: Robert M. Parker, Jnr: ‘This blogger...’:

2012: Born Digital Wine Awards: No Pay No Jay – best investigative wine story

2012: International Wine Challenge – Personality of the Year Award

Saturday 30 October 2010

Plachutta: exploring the art of lunch in Vienna

 2009 Federspiel, Hinter Der Burg, Grüner Veltliner, Prager

It is, of course, self evident that lunch is not the same as dinner. There is a thrill about a long lunch that is naturally not present at dinner as part of the fun of a week day lunch is that others are working while you are enjoying and pampering yourself. Even for the self-employed there is the delicate whiff of the illicit about settling down to a good lunch.

There was an element of this last Monday seated in Plachutta, an apparently well known Viennese restaurant and certainly buzzy with good, skilled service. Looking at the wine list before CRM arrived – I had stayed on at the Renaissance Hotel getting on with the 99th edition of Circle Update, the newsletter of the Circle of Wine Writers. CRM had headed out to do some sightseeing, although sadly the lovely weather of the first two days of the European Wine Bloggers' Conference had been replaced by wet, cool weather.

I had hoped that the restaurant would have some half bottles, so that we could have a white for the apero and a red for the Tafel Spitz (boiled beef in stock with vegetables and marrow bone), which one of us planned to have since it is the restaurant's speciality. One guide book claimed that they had raised Tafel Spitz to an art form – which proved to be the case.

There were no half bottles, although there was a selection of wines by the glass but I decided to a go for a bottle of 2009 Grüner Veltliner from Prager (Wachau), which had both some youthful weight and mineral vibrancy and was actually a surprisingly good counterpoint to the beef.

We shared the selection of starters, which included beefsteak tatar and jellied goose liver paté. Then came the tafel spitz for CRM. You start with some of the stock and vegetables, before trying the generously thick slice of boiled beef. I don't know what the cut used is but it seemed similar to sirloin and wonderfully tender. Left out of the stock for a while the beef did become a little less melting. You finish with the beef marrow spread on dark rye bread.

Clearly tafel spitz belongs to the tradition of substantial dishes like pot au feu that are often eaten as two dishes the cooking liquid and then the meat and vegetables, although certainly Plachutta's version is decidedly refined.  

I chose that other typical Viennese dish – Wiener Schnitzel – here made with the traditional veal rather than pork and also excellent. A fine pampered lunch and a fitting conclusion to our stay in Vienna. 


Julia7ich said...

Hi Jim! You chose an excellent place to dine on two very classic Viennese dishes! I am sure that you noticed on the menu that you could choose several different cuts of beef for your Austrian "pot au feu" - the Tafel spitz, which is btw the tri-tip or rump steak cut. I hope that CRM enjoyed all the condiments - the creamed spinach, the fried potatoes, the "Semmelkren" (bread and horeradish sauce). Tafelspitz was the favorite dish of Emperor Franz Josef I and it was typically his mid-morning snack.
In Austria "Wiener Schnitzel" MUST be from veal unless it is stated otherwise on the menu!
Also Austrian sommeliers reccomend white wine with Tafelspitz, typically either a Grüner Veltliner or a dry Zierfandler. I must say that you made a very good choice in the Prager!
Plachutta has a classic Viennese cookbook available in English which I highly recommend.
Guten Appetit!

Jim's Loire said...

Thanks Julia. It was a great lunch and CRM enjoyed all the condiments as did I for as usual we shared tastes. We did see the various cuts available. Carole chose the classic on this occsion.