There are quite a lot of restaurants and pubs in my area of Vienna, so sometimes when I feel lazy I don’t venture far and eat in my district. On this snowy evening we walked a block in what felt like a blizzard to arrive at the “Zum roten Bären“. It looked comfy from the outside and inviting but once inside that changed.
The taproom smelled of kitchen and not in a good way but more like yesterday’s fry up. And then there was the draft. What made it so inviting from the outside, the big window front, was unappealing on the inside. There was a constant draft going through the room and even though we had a table far away from the window front, I put my coat back on after 10 minutes. Upon paying I commented on this to the waitress and it turned out that they “forgot” to close the back door (I think it was probably open to keep the smell at bay; maybe an investment in a ventilation system is on order?).
Also interesting to note was that while the taproom is non-smoking one of the chefs sat down at the other of the communal table and smoked a cigarette while talking to a friend. Maybe I am over-reacting but I am sick of all the smoking in restaurants particularly if there is a smoking room available (yeah, I know. It’s the ex-smoker gene. I am probably just jealous!).
Let’s get to the food though. Apparently there is a daily changing dinner menu besides the regular menu. I opted for the Kasnocken, a regional specialty which is usually heavy from all the cheese. Since “Zum roten Bären” is not known for its huge portions I figured it wasn’t going to be a problem. My two friends were more health inclined and chose both salads. One with cream cheese balls and the other with red beet. As it turned out the red beets were eaten for the day and the waiter suggested a “destiny” salad. Destiny so because the chef destines what goes into the salad.
When our plates arrived we were in for a surprise. My cheesy dumplings were twice as big portionwise while the cream cheese salad was small as expected. The destiny salad turned out to be the biggest surprise. It offered everything the cream cheese salad had with additional roasted pumpkin; same price but bigger portion. Tastewise all three dishes were good. The Kasnocken had a lovely cheesy flavor without being too heavy (I finished the whole portion if you want to know) and the salads were well-balanced if a tad low on the dressing.
Still, “Zum roten Bären” didn’t convince me the second time around either. The portions, service and the overall impression are just uneven with fairly steep prices especially regarding the drinks. To charge for tap water when it’s mixed with juice is awful and has no place in the Viennese culture. Yours, Pollybert
Zum roten Bären
1090 Wien, Berggasse 39
Phone: 01 3176150
Mo-Fr: 11:30-24:00, Sa-Su: 18:00-24:00