The Hausbar was my personal highlight of 2020. Great food, great service, and an overall feel good atmosphere was widely recognized by the culinary critics in Austria. Then came a long dry spell due to a never-ending lock down, only interrupted by take-out and pop-up collaborations, which finally ended in spring. Giving everyone time to adjust again, we returned to the restaurant last weekend to check out the new menu.
Let’s start with the most important news: the Hausbar put itself firmly on the culinary firmament in Vienna last year, with excellent reviews for the restaurant and the bar. The new menu, best enjoyed with the accompanying cocktails, is again something to rave about. So here we go.
First up was a piece of slightly toasted sourdough Focaccia with a cream of olive oil. I love that whipped butter is a thing of the past at the Hausbar. The warm bread, with a light dusting of salt flakes on top, had a nice crunch on the outside and was soft and yummy inside. Just perfect to dip it into the cream.
The amuse gueule came in form of a mini burrito, filled with pulled pork, avocado bean cream, tomato salsa, cheese, and pickled shallots. Topped with cilantro mayonnaise and a fried onion ring. On the side was some extra chili powder and pieces of jalapeño. I can’t say that I could taste all the different components of the burrito, but the sum of it was delicious. A quick dip in the chili powder gave it the right heat which was then dowsed with a shot of Tepache. The sweetness of the pineapple brought it all together.
The starter turned out to be a trout tartar, marinated with lime, chives, chervil. The tartar was not minced into oblivion but rather had bigger pieces of fish. Touching the mound of fish was a green pool of apple and herbal juice confined by some tonic gel. The cucumber had been pickled in gin, and a gin tonic cucumber sorbet rested on a bed of quinoa crumble. The gin drink, made from Ayran, lime juice, and peach bitter, was smooth and silky due to the Ayran. This was a really a spectacular dish, for the eye as well as the palate.
The signature dish of the Hausbar, the espuma, puts the spotlight on the humble kohlrabi this time. Blanched kohlrabi and currants rest at the bottom of the small bowl, which are then topped with a buttermilk kohlrabi espuma and a large sunflower cress leave. Don’t underestimate this course due to its simplistic appearance. There is so much substance in it, you want to lick the bowl when it’s all gone. Trust me.
Accompanying the espuma was a slushie. Usually I am not a great fan of frozen drinks because I always get a brain freeze when sucking it up with a straw. At the Hausbar it came with a spoon though, so no worries. Cassis liquor, mixed with walnut bitter and truffle oil, made an excellent concoction. I am glad the truffle oil was not dominant.
And with that we arrive at the soup course. Which is a ‘Bellini soup’, so cold peach essence with brambles, gooseberries, and thyme oil. The soup is a spectacle and course where you have to do more than just eat. A grilled slice of peach, dowsed in alcohol, sits on a bed of thyme with a small cup of Muskateller Frizzante.
First the Frizzante goes into the soup, then the peach and thyme get fired up. Now you can douse the burning peach in your soup. The thyme keeps on smoldering for a bit and gives off an amazing smell. The soup is an interesting dish and you notice that quite a lot of thought went into it. All senses are engaged while eating it and it tastes great. It’s just not a soup for me, rather a dessert. Maybe all it needs is some salt sprinkling.
My favorite course was the fish course. The char is tempered in olive oil, served with lemony marinated fennel salad, fennel sprouts, puffed rice, purple carrot ravioli, and ginger nage. The taste is delicate, with the right balance to hit all the taste buds at the same time. It’s a wonderful dish! If I have one complaint it’s that the colors on the picture don’t do it justice. But as I just learned, not everything needs to be Insta suitable. Sometimes the superb taste must be enough. The Grand Manier drink with lemon, ginger, rhubarb juice, and Amaretto, was the perfect companion.
Before the meat course we got a palate cleanser in form of a salted lemon – apple sorbet with pear cider. It definitely did what it was meant to do. All taste of fish was gone when the smoked short rib turned up. The rib was richly glazed in BBQ sauce, with a fried quail’s egg on top. Since the meat and the shallot sauce were rich in taste, I was happy that the zucchini came as fresh salad.
The slightly acidic dressing helped to cut through the richness and brought the whole dish together. My friend would have preferred grilled zucchini, but the kitchen knows what it’s doing. The is just right the way it comes. The hash browns are so crunchy btw, you might want to eat them with your hands.
There was only one more course left, the dessert. Apricot pancakes, a typical Austrian dish, got a makeover. They come warm to table but hidden underneath a blanket of amaranth. Dots of mint cream with white chocolate and yuzu foam are set around the rolled pancakes. I am not sure what the churros ice cream on a bed of chocolate caramel crumble brought to the dish, but that also found space on the plate. Very sweet and rich this dessert, the yuzu foam was greatly appreciated to give it all a bit more depth. Coffee came in form of the last drink with chili, apricot nectar and yuzu juice.
The Hausbar has found its place in the Viennese restaurant scene and is here to stay. The kitchen and the bar work closely together to create a unique dining experience for each and every person. No matter if you are vegan or not drinking alcohol. The service makes you feel as if you are a friend and not a paying customer. So pleasant and attentive, something unheard of in this city, which is well known for its grumpy waiters. All in all, it feels as if you are on vacation. And isn’t that the best feeling in the world? Yours, Pollybert
1010 Wien, Karlsplatz 5
Tel: +43 664 75010417