The restaurant Zum Schwarzen Kameel is an institution in Vienna since 1618. Which makes it more than 400 years old. Mix that with its prime location and you have the perfect hot spot to while away a couple of hours while being seen by the ‘tight people’. No matter if it’s summer or winter, this is always a great place for a drink. But let’s not forget this is also a restaurant with a fine reputation. So one summer evening I made my way to this lifestyle temple.
There is no reservation available for outdoor seating. For dinner though it doesn’t matter so much if you are a larger group. The small coffee house tables are not really suitable for al fresco dining while the Art Noveau inside is cooled through AC.
Zum Schwarzen Kameel offers two different set menus, one traditional Viennese and one international, as well as a large á la carte menu. We all started with warm, crusty bread and cold butter though. The bread was heavenly and we asked for seconds because it was so good.
The amuse gueule for everyone was shiitake jelly with calamansi butter and red beet in different forms. Honestly it sounded like a handful and was then rather small and unremarkable.
Quite a number of people in our group ordered the traditional Viennese menu which started with hand cut bone-in ham with horseradish and bread. This is usually one of my favorite snacks when I am at the restaurant Zum Schwarzen Kameel for a glass of wine. In the grown-up version on a plate it didn’t look quite as appealing. Although it tasted great of course.
Next up was an intense beef soup with semolina dumplings. It was funny because someone described it as way too intense as if “too much Maggi” had been added. I didn’t taste it but I am sure the intense aroma comes from the real deal. In any case it looked delicious.
Then came a small portion of veal goulash with Nockerln and sour cream. This is so good when well prepared and apparently it was just that. I heard great reviews about this course.
Finally it was time for the Wiener Schnitzel, the dish for which Vienna is really famous for. One would think that not a lot can go wrong with a fried piece of meat. But so not true. There are actually a lot of things which can ruin your Schnitzel experience. From too dry meat, to bland breading and overall poor quality. All of these problems never materialized. The Schnitzel was perfect.
The menu ended with the Viennese version of a pancake which is thin like a crepes but served rolled up and filled with apricot jam. When done right this is a marvelous dessert. And here it was done right! It was served with apricot sorbet and stewed apricots on the side. Totally unnecessary since neither good nor did these anything for the dish.
I belonged to the non-menu eaters and ordered a short fried char with char caviar with potato lovage salad and cucumber ginger vinaigrette. The char was still juicy and the dressing of the salad gave it a very fresh taste. It was quite good.
Also loved the beef tartare which I tasted next. It had a very distinct Asian seasoning with an avocado lime yuzu cream and buttered toast. There was a bit of roasted sesame oil mixed in the beef with elevated the dish to another level. Really, really tasty.
The fennel orange cream soup with Campari foam sounded interesting but looked awful. The color combination is not one which allured me to try it. I was told it was good though. But really, how this can come out of a kitchen is beyond me.
Also the stuffed courgette flower had a color problem. I thought presentation matters in the kitchen as well? It was all a bit dark. The flowers came with fried pattisons, sautéed chanterelles and summer truffle. The dish was good but not remarkable in my opinion.
I fared a lot better color wise with my next dish which was turbot and bouchot shell with fennel potato cream, leaf spinach and artichokes. The saffron taste of the foam was quite intense but overall a clumsy dish. The artichokes could have been a bit better cleaned as well.
What I liked best was the pike perch roast joint with ginger lemon butter, coriander carrots and mascarpone spinach. The ginger lemon butter made the whole dish so summery and fresh. It was exquisite.
I can’t say anything to the Styrian chicken breast with pea and mint couscous and pak choi as well as the two sorts of lamb filet with bean cassoulet and potato goulash. Both dishes had an excellent appearance and vanished in record time. I guess therefore they were tasty.
The desserts were a bit of a let down. Especially since the pancake was such a hit. I ate a mango coconut canneloni. And while it looked interesting, it didn’t taste that way.
The pistachios tarte with white chocolate got better reviews. I tasted the tarte and it was okay. Nothing I would ever order on my own. But I didn’t do so in the first place.
The lavender panna cotta with pickled raspberries and lemon thyme ice cream vanished without any remarks. I am glad I got a picture from it.
Overall the desserts tried too much and just sounded way better than what eventually landed in front of us. Also some of the savory dishes were stretch too far. I love the idea to give my review on such a high level. And really some of the dishes I remember fondly. But others were unremarkable. Which is a shame since the restaurant Zum Schwarzen Kameel is such an outstanding place in Vienna. In any case, it will see me again. Yours, Pollybert
Zum Schwarzen Kameel
1010 Wien, Bognergasse 5
Tel: +43 1 533 81 25
Mon-Sun: 12:00-14:30, 18:00-23:00 (kitchen)