Even though Béla Béla sounds totally Hungarian, it actually serves Mediterranean cuisine. The restaurant is part of the Steigenberger Hotel in the center of Vienna but has a separate entrance. Which definitely adds to the charm, but still there is a slight feel that you sit in a hotel.
Never mind, I was here for the food. My friend got lucky and won a three course meal with accompanying wine. So off we went during the first week after the re-opening to enjoy again a meal in a restaurant. I only noticed during the shut-down how much I missed that.
We started our dinner with an asparagus salad with rhubarb. So far I had rhubarb only as a sweet dish, but I do know that it is a vegetable. So I was looking forward to the mix of lettuce, wild herbs, and asparagus. The salad came with a slice of buttered and toasted bread and worked its magic on me. While the rhubarb is already sour on its own, here it had been pickled and was even tangier. Still, it worked well in combination with the green asparagus and the buttered bread.
For the main course we had a choice. In the end I ordered the meat dish, my friend got the fish. The sea bass came straight out of the oven, with eggplant, tomatoes, white beans, and chickpeas by its side. While the fish did look appealing, it was unfortunately rather bland. Only by pouring the accompanying sauce all over it, improved the taste. I’m not sure this was in the sense of the chef, because otherwise he would have baked the fish already in it. It did look nice though.
I got a veal steak with roasted broccoli, red beet cream, and za’atar butter. The meat was tender, very juicy and perfectly seasoned. I am not sure why the spinach was on top (same as on the fish), but it added a nice splash of color. The broccoli had no roast elements and was more squishy. Maybe because it built the base of this dish?
On top of the broccoli were orange slices, unexpected but really good. I can’t say that the za’atar butter enhanced the flavor, possible it brought it all together. Even though I had a totally different dish in mind upon reading the menu, I loved it. There was a lot happening on this plate but it was very tasty and interesting.
The winner of the meal was the desert though. You can’t go wrong with chocolate, and the Tahini Tarte with tonka bean ice cream and strawberries was fantastic. This all came together beautifully, the flavor of the strawberries was ripe and intense, the ice cream just the right amount of soft, and the tarte dark and nutty due to the tahini. A wow experience!
What a lovely surprise this evening was. The kitchen really comes through with interesting combinations and the flavors work mostly well. The accompanying wine worked well with food but as usual there it’s too much wine. Overall Béla Béla is a nice addition to the restaurants downtown. Yours, Pollybert
1010 Wien, Fahnengasse 1
Tel: +43 1 534 04920