Social Media definitely has an impact. Let’s be honest here: in the past I have made breakfast reservations in countless restaurants which I have seen featured somewhere on social media. And this was the way I came across &flora. It looked interesting, with great spots to feature later on my timeline. But as so often came to pass in the past, a restaurant needs more than just ‘good looks’.
&flora is the restaurant of the Hotel Gilbert, right behind the MQ, which recently opened in Vienna. The restaurant actually sits in the lobby of the hotel with a kind of open (glass panels) kitchen concept. Very interesting and for sure not something I have seen so far. I like the idea behind it, reminding me of a party where everyone convenes in the kitchen. My friend though was acutely aware of sitting in the lobby even though the concierge desk is unobtrusive to the side.
It’s a good thing that they had a sign outside, telling everyone that they were still in the ‘soft opening’ phase. We waited at least five minutes to be seated, with two waitresses looking busily away. The place was almost empty though when we got led to our table. Interesting fun fact, despite the dining room being empty, we got a table right next to someone else. But maybe this is all part of the concept of the restaurant to mix the hotel guests with the locals.
We started talking with our Swiss neighbors when we got our coffee before them, although they had ordered theirs already 20 minutes ago. Such is life in a soft opening phase and has to overlook quite a bit. The breakfast menu is small with two poached eggs combinations, omelettes, and a couple of add-ons.
We both ordered the poached egg. My friend got the version with ham, Miso sauce Bernaise, and potato brioche, and I wanted my egg with mashed potatoes, Guanciale (some kind of Italian bacon), Belper Knolle (an Italian cheese), and chive oil.
Let’s start with my plate. I can’t say that I really found everything listed on my plate. It looked more reddish than green, so not a lot of chive. My biggest upset was the Guanciale. I didn’t see one bit of meat, basically it was pure Lardo draped over a pile of barely mashed potatoes. I am still not sure what the red bit was and I don’t think there was any cheese on it. The best part of the dish was the fried potatoes on top. Overall though, it was not really good.
On the other hand my friend liked his poached egg. The Miso sauce Bernaise was by itself on the salty side, in combination with the sweetness of the potato brioche it worked though. A sauce Bernaise btw has some herbs in the sauce, usually tarragon or chervil. Sprinkling chive on top doesn’t make a Hollandaise a sauce Bernaise. Just a hint for the kitchen.
Personally I loved the seating in the hotel lobby and all the instagramable nooks and crannies. But the service is really slow and the food has quite a bit of room for improvement. I am not sure that this will be better in the near future, so I will give &flora some time to find its feet. Yours, Pollybert