I really like the name ‘Maria and Josef’, it carries so much of Vienna in its essence. More so if there would just be a ‘Jessas’ at the beginning. You can read about the meaning of it (only in German) here, but basically it just means Jesus. Not that this restaurant has anything remotely in common with a church. But it is quite stunning when you enter, so one feels a bit in awe as one should, when it comes to holy matters.
We got a place at the bar, at the time of my reservation there was nothing else available. Upon seeing the bar, I knew that was the only place I wanted to sit anyway. I love the concave style of it and it was just very comfortable sitting here. Why don’t all bars look like this?
While waiting for my friend I got myself a beer and checked out the restaurant and the well stocked bar. Maria and Josef makes quite an impression, there is no denying that.
Once my friend arrived she ordered a Negroni, while I went for an Italicus (a bergamot liquor). Even though I dislike it in tea, think Earl Grey, I was quite taken with the drink. Maybe a tad too sweet, but light and refreshing. I’ll definitely need to get Italicus for the balcony season.
We decided on sharing three dishes and ordered them to be served at the same time. As a starter we got a dish called ‘Neo-Mediterraneo‘, a marinated olive mix with artichokes and herbs. Personally I only saw one kind of olives inside, with little red peppers, capers, artichokes, and some parsley on top. Not exactly what the menu promised, but okay. I liked the artichokes, didn’t care for the olives and the peppers though.
The best dish by far was the ‘Spicy Octopus’. Even though it was not spicy at all, it was super delicious. The octopus was the best I’ve ever eaten in Vienna. Tender, juicy, just melting in your mouth. It came with grilled vegetables and potato halves. An instant hit for both of us. The lemon aioli got a little bit lost underneath, but overall really fantastic.
The cauliflower tempura on the other hand was rather a disaster. Tempura, as we all know, should be light and crispy. Thinking about it, small pieces of shrimps or vegetables, perfectly sealed in tempura batter, come to mind. Unlike at Maria and Josef where three humongous balls of cauliflower, concealed in batter, arrived. The roasted almonds, spring onions, and Gomasio (Japanese sesame salt) cream cheese rounded up the mess.
The cauliflower still had a bite, which was lovely. The added condiments didn’t help this dish at all. The batter was way too thick and all over the cauliflower. There was nothing light and airy to find in here. I removed the batter in one piece and ate the cauliflower with some hot sauce and spicy ketchup. Which was palatable, but not at all what we had ordered. After I told the waiter that the tempura was all wrong, he just nodded and moved on. So much for customer feedback.
While I got another beer to wash down the disappointment of the cauliflower, my friend chose a cocktail named Mimi. Which is basically Prosecco, orange juice, and some bitter aperitivo. It definitely looked great.
Honestly, I am not sure what to make of Maria und Josef. The octopus was sheer perfection, the cauliflower tempura a disaster, the Neo-Mediterraneo not what the menu promised. But the restaurant is beautiful and gives off a nice bar feeling. The music volume increases by 10pm to support the vibe. Maybe I’ll wait for while and let them find their footing first. Yours, Pollybert
Maria und Josef
1060 Wien, Rahlgasse 1
Tel: +43 1 9461775