Restaurant Review: Gaumenspiel, Vienna

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Steph Theodosiou spends an evening at Gaumenspiel in the “boho” district of Austria’s beautiful capital 

Having heard good things from friends about Gaumenspiel in Vienna’s hip 7th district, I was very excited at the prospect of spending my Saturday night at a restaurant whose name translates literally to “jaw game”.

I had no idea what to expect in terms of the restaurant itself – the website is very simple, unpretentious and doesn’t give much away. Upon arrival, I was pleasantly surprised by the interior: elegant, classic and bigger than we expected, with a second room complete with a cosy fireplace hidden around the corner. There was even a picturesque private courtyard – but unfortunately it was too cold to sit outside.

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The menu is concise, eclectic and seasonal and the hospitable staff were truly happy to explain the dishes and provide recommendations, particularly for wine pairings. There were two possibilities: either choose one of the three available 4- or 5-course set menus, or mix and match individual dishes. Concerned that I wouldn’t be able to eat five courses (I hate wasting good food), I decided to mix and match fewer courses from Menus 1 and 2, whilst my dinner partner chose the complete Menu 2.

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Scallop with miso egg custard, bisque and tomato; salmon trout in basil with watermelon, avocado and yuzu; turbot with eggplant in charcoal, chen pi, swelling wheat and mushrooms; rack of lamb and shoulder with baharat, beans, pumpkin and hummus; these were just a few of our extraordinary dishes, all full of distinct, unusual and delicious flavours.

My favourite course of the night was definitely my dessert – it was the perfect finish to the meal for my sweet tooth: chocolate flan with pineapple, caramel ice cream and malaba pepper, paired with a deliciously sweet Italian red dessert wine. It came with a pretty plant on the side and clipped to one of the leaves with a mini wooden peg was what looked like a little plastic bag of white powder.

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Now before you get any funny ideas, I will clarify that this was actually an edible parcel of… popping candy! The waiter explained that before I tuck into my chocolate flan, I should place the entire parcel inside my mouth and wait for the magic. I was bit confused at first and did wonder whether something had been lost in translation, however, after asking twice if I could definitely eat the parcel, I popped it in and waited. I felt the parcel begin to melt on my tongue and then the crackling started, it was delightful! I sat happily with a smile on my face waiting for it to finish; I can’t remember the last time I had popping candy and it felt rather nostalgic. It also tasted wonderful!

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I adore visiting smaller restaurants where you can see the owners’ love and attention has been put into things like the quality of the food, service and the interior feeling. The lovely Martina (one of the owners) was there during our visit, subtly overseeing things. She even gave us recommendations for great bars within walking distance.

The verdict
Gaumenspiel was everything we had hoped for… and was a true jaw-dropping edible experience.

Make it happen
Where: Zieglergasse 54, 1070 Vienna
Bookings: Phone 0043 1526 1108 or email essen@gaumenspiel.at

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