Meierei im Stadtpark: the dairy queen of Vienna
Meierei is one of the best restaurants in the Austrian capital. Serving Viennese food with an aerated contemporary touch, the meal im Stadtpark staged on the urban green carpet sustains the country’s best beekeepers, growers, farmers and fisherman. The location could not have been better. As the more casual sister of Vienna’s lauded two Michelin star restaurant Steirereck just next door, Meierei sources the ingredients from the same sustainable farm owned by the Reitbauer Family in Styria and from growers of rare edibles, sustainable fishermen and wild hunters in Austria. Unusual herbs are grown on its city rooftop for handy use in both Viennese kitchens. Not everything is local though as the lavish pan-European cheese cabinet displaying its delectable jewels tempts all who step in. Ordering some of this top quality, small production dairy fantasy is a must here if just a few bites.
Starting with cheese or a glass of milk
Meierei is a milk bar for the grownups. Milk in all forms – frozen, soured, whipped, in cheese and butter – is the essence of its culinary concept. The book of pleasure at Meierei literally gushes with dairy sins. A deeply veined aged cheese paste was photographed for the cheese menu hanging on a glass bottle of powdered milk on your table. Inside inviting you to taste either a raw cheese selection from Austria or France, to embark on a European cheese odyssey or a thematic journey through cow’s, goat or sheep cheeses and last but not least your own selection of six or nine personal coups de coeur. Some tables started with the cheese, because – why not? There are not many restaurants or cafes offering such a broad dairy indulgence as Meierei. In fact, the first time I came alone, and got my cheese packed in a recyclable wooden tray.
The cheese expert genuinely and patiently explained my zillions of questions, served the morsels with their provenance and numbered info tags (in German) inside the box. Toasted Austrian pumpkin seeds and house jams accompany the dairy hedonism. I carried the treasures in on one of these wired cloth hangers you get at dry cleaners, a smart tool! Enjoying the local (five Austrian and a blue Swiss) bounty later in my cosy hotel bed. The Austrian pear washed cows wheel with red rind was my favourite. Not too strong, neither weak.
There are more than 140 selections, so each visit, a new discovery was made. The goat Ziegenfrisch Kaserolle from Niederosterreich and Edwin’s Chevrette from Vorarlberg, and Vorarlberger Bergkase, 15 months aged mountain cow’s cheese, were outstanding. When eating in, organic bread made solely from Austrian grains by the family-run Ströck bakery is served with each meal. A basket of dark and plain white bread for 2.50 (“Gedeck” = cover charge) arrives with a knob of ravishing house butter. The white sourdough is exquisite, big holes sign the bubbles of fermentation, while the dark wholegrain is dense, deep and chalky dusty. I cannot stop knifing through that naughty slab of butter as I generously spread it over the moist bread with a springy crust, like my grandmother’s. For obvious reasons, Meierei is not an ideal eatery for the gluten and dairy intolerant or staunch dieters. I dare to indulge here wholesomely and without guilt since cheese, meat and fish are not my everyday staples. When I eat meat out though, I select meticulously, choosing naturally grazed, humanely raised and ethically butchered flesh. Same with fish, lower in the food chain, going for the lesser known species so not to burden the overfished stocks. Here they care.
For lunch or dinner a la carte house staples aways on the menu include a Beef Consommé with semolina dumplings, boiled short ribs and carrots; the raw Beef Tatare with avocado, mustard seed, black garlic and sourdough, milk-fed veal Wiener Schnitzel with a side endive and potato salad or new potatoes and the Steirereck Kaiserschmarr’n with plum compote. Vegetarian options are sparsely included, but vegans might have it tough here what is essentially a gourmet milk bar. Once I had a superb whole boiled Cauliflower with crispy buttered breadcrumbs, creamy mayonnaise like a sesame sauce, salted lemon verbena and pea shoots. The boiled head of cauliflower was soft, crispy, perfectly balanced with the chef’s chosen ingredients. Seasonal diversions like a Herb salad with crispy deep fried polenta cubes, white sesame seeds, sweet potatoes in their skins and shaved turnips in a sweet dressing were also superb to start with for an entirely vegetarian meal.
Tasting menu at Meierei im Stadtpark
If your taste buds crave more than the perfect Wiener schnitzel entrust yourself in generous seasonal meal from the Austrian farms, gardens, pastures, and rivers in the four or five course degustation at Meierei. Mushrooms with local summer veggies and poached egg, lake Poached Char or trout, superb Duck confit breaded into cubes and fresh dairy, mingle with meat (I had wild Venison Ragout with wild broccoli, preserved lemon and verbena) and local wild sweet water fish – catfish, reinanke (soft white fish from Attersee), sturgeon. You can mix and match how you desire, including cheese. For dessert I had compote-sweet Marinated red berries with superb Fragrant Roses and coconut water sorbet and flower petals, just perfect for hot July. The portions were large for a tasting menu though, be ready.
A la carte the sweet Austrian dumplings filled with seasonal bounty like apricots in summer are a must.
In their boutique you can buy house marmalade or Styrian honey from beekeeper Johannes Gruberwhere whose vintages are compared from year to year like wine is served and sold in jars. He maintains that: “In the honey, the bees reflect the landscapes they live in, all within a radius of four kilometres. It could be compared to a Grand Cru from Burgundy, where the wine grown in a few hectares characterises its region.“ Priced accordingly, tasting sublimely.
The restaurant is enviably placed inside the Vienna’s central Stadtpark encircled by Schubert Rink, the Wien Mitte train station and cut through a Wienerfluss canal popular with runners, strollers and lovers lounging on its benches. The smart casual feel of the light-filled, white tablecloth dressed contemporary interior opens out to the outdoor seating. Further, Meierei aligned itself with the outdoor lifestyle of cosmopolitan youth that jovially toasts beer and wine glasses in groups while standing or leaning against the walkway railing. Attached are convenient side tables to nurse a snack, small cheese plate or glass. Sparkling “sekt” by Gobelsburg is steel dry as is the French grower champagne served also by the glass. The tasting menu can be paired with wine, and we tried the sommelier’s concoctions with vinous pleasure. The likes of natural Austrian wine from Tschida or Welsh Riesling by Jasdi and Csopak next door from Hungary were joined by superb Grüner Veltliner by Setzer in Vienna and light-bodied red Jura “Vin de France” by Ganevat family. The wine list is mostly Austrian splitting it with Italy, Slovenia and France, but water (still and sparkling) comes from the Alps bottled by Vöslauer.
Viennese Cuisine is served with integrity at Meierei purely from Austrian produce. This milk bar cum cheese heaven is perfect for indulgence while paying respect to nature in the capital city where tap water is piped in directly from the Alps and wind-power generators wave a welcome and “auf wiedersehen” as you take off. I will be back not for the schnitzel but the natural spirit the prevails in Austria.
Am Heumarkt 2a, im Stadtpark, A-1030 Wien
+43 (1) 713 31 68
Mo-Fr 11:30am – 11pm; Sat-Sun 9:00 am – 7pm; Breakfast till 12noon
Closed on public holidays