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Dom Beisl in Vienna - 1 Michelin star

Rating: 82.
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What does it take to get a Michelin star? People often ask me. In recent years Michelin has lifted the veil of secrecy around the awarding process slightly, but most of it is still a mystery to us all. The quality of the food is all that matters, Michelin states explicitly and the verdict from Mount Michelympus is supposed to be as impartial as that of Lady Justice herself. In reality, the judges are mere mortals and, like you and me, they need something to go by. One thing I have noticed, is that once stars have been awarded to chef, they seem to stick to him/her. For instance, there seems to be a select group of chefs who have what I call the 'The Michelin Midas Touch': every restaurant opened by one of these chefs is almost instantly awarded one or more stars. Think Ducasse, Gagnaire, Robuchon. Allons enfants de la Patrie! Then there's the 'Travelling Chef/Services Rendered Star': the star will travel with the chef wherever he goes or will be handed back at first opportunity - usually within a year after the opportunity arises.

After my meal here, I was wondering whether the latter applied at Dom Beisl, a restaurant located very close to St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna. A 'Beisl' is Austria's answer to a gastropub. At the helm of the kitchen is Harald Riedl, who's been a well-known name on the Viennese dining scene for years. He worked at the well-established restaurant Zum Schwarzen Kameel and later on at RieGi, where he was awarded a Michelin star in 2007. Michelin put his star 'on hold' when he left RieGi in 2008. He then became head chef at Vincent and later on at the Radisson Blu. In May 2012 Riedl became head chef at Dom Beisl and ten months later, in the 2013 Main Cities of Europe guide, the restaurant was awarded a Michelin star.

Dom Beisl is open for lunch and dinner Monday till Friday. There's an a la carte menu (starters €9-€20, mains €21-€28, desserts €5.50-€12) and a set lunch menu (2 courses €14.90, 3 courses €19.90). I had dinner with my husband at Dom Beisl on Friday 31 January 2014.

Appetizers: smoked trout mousse with char and herring caviar, marinated sardine and salmon topped with dried black olive crumbs.

One of Dom Beisl's signature starters is the so-called 'Parmesan Ei', which comes highly recommended on the Via Michelin website. The main ingredient of this dish is a crispy deep-fried egg, topped with grated Parmesan cheese. In this case it was paired with marinated raw mackerel and cucumber and beetroot purees. The mackerel, sprinkled with some black sesame seeds, was nice and creamy, but far too delicate to take on the flavours of the crispy egg. I guess that if the mackerel had been smoked or grilled, the combination might have been more successful.

Next up was a comforting clear beef consommé with delicious kraüter Fritatten (sliced herb pancakes) and vegetables.

My main course was suckling pig's trotter, garlic crème, Knödel, marinated beetroot and baby onions. Well-cooked, rich and tasty pig's trotter, with some freshly grated horseradish perched on top and served with a dark and sticky sauce. So far, so good, but then the car crashed. Underneath the pig's trotter and the Knödel was a garlic crème that did not even come close to having been cooked through properly and was therefore inedible. After my first bite all I could taste was the aggressive sharpness of the garlic and since the crème was all over the plate, it was impossible the finish the dish.

For dessert we shared an Apfelstrudel, not the best one I have ever eaten, but it was nice enough.

The menu at Dom Beisl looked interesting, but I fear the food did not even begin to deliver. With the exception of the consommé, which I enjoyed, this was a flawed meal and the undercooked garlic was an unforgivable mistake. On the plus-side the service was excellent and the extensive wine list was interesting and well-priced. Having said that, this was one in a growing list of disappointing meals in restaurants that had very recently been (or were about to be) awarded a Michelin star (Le Clos du Cedre in Beaune, France, and  Bo London being cases in point). Michelin extols the importance of 'consistency over time and across the menu', but perhaps they too should accept that 'past performance does not guarantee future results'.

Posted 25-02-2014


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