IN Vienna, cafes are where people come to indulge in a cup of coffee with friends, read or, these days, to surf the Web. The Vienna Cafe, writes TAN BEE HONG, attempts to evoke the tradition here.
IT hadn´t been a good start to the morning. By the time I reach Cafe Vienna, I am ready to murder a cup of coffee. From the coffee menu, I pick a cappuccino but it fails to hit the spot.
I try again. A Maria Theresia (RM22) please. My heart sinks to see a thick layer of cream on top of the coffee. Still, I stir it in, together with the few strips of candied orange zest. One sip is enough to draw me out of the lethargic morning. A lashing of cointreau lifts the coffee to gourmet standards and brings a huge smile to my face.
The restaurant owner tells me that Vienna is a city of cafes, a tradition that dates back to the 1600s. He loved the concept so much he decided to bring it here. And coffee is served as it is done in Vienna - on a small platter with a glass of water and a cookie. His menu lists melange (cappuccino), kurzer (expresso), mozart kaffe (double mocha), Viennese ice coffee and more.
The cafe itself is dimly-lit, so we sit down at marble tables set outside the restaurant proper. There are comfy sofas and classic bentwood chairs designed by Michael Thonet in the 1800s. If you look up, you get to admire a painting of angels on the ceiling, with puffy candy-floss clouds against a blue sky.
We´re going full-steam, starting with a garden salad (RM18), a colourful serving of crisp greens with tomato, capsicum and black olives tossed with balsamic reduction. Very refreshing.
The Vienna chicken schnitzel sandwich (RM26) has melted mozzarella and parmesan cheese on breaded and deep fried chicken breast. Sandwiched with fresh lettuce and tomatoes between two halves of a panini bun, it makes a good light lunch. Comes with thick cut fries.
Pasta. Is this Austrian? I guess having Italy for a neighbour has influenced its cuisine. The beef lasagna (RM33) is full of flavour, layered with bolognese sauce, bechamel, parmesan and mozzarella cheese.
I love the aroma of the fettucine truffle (RM49). Not too overpowering. With enough slivers of black truffle, garlic and parsley. Earthy... just the way I like it. The kaesespaetzle (RM29) on the other hand, is a saucy dish. The spaetzle is tossed with sauteed mushrooms, turkey ham, onions and spinach in a rich gorgonzola-gruyere cheese sauce. Pasta portions are not huge though, so be warned if you are ravenous.
For more hearty servings, the baked seabass fillet (RM45) is delicious, with a creamy dill sauce, fine strips of capsicum, aubergine, zucchini and topped with deep fried leek.
Braised lamb shank (RM42) is always popular, cooked slowly to get the meat tender and moist at the same time.
Vegetarians will love the pita with spinach and cheese (RM29). This, I am told, is a special eastern European pastry. The spiral of flaky filo pastry is stuffed with chopped spinach and ricotta cheese. A small portion of Greek salad with feta cheese and black olives is served in a cup on the side. I thought there wasn´t quite enough cheese in it though.
Lots of customers come for the Austrian cakes. I recommend making your way to the cake counter to check out the chocolatey sacher torte, the linzer torte with its filling of raspberry jam and opera cake.
Salzburger nockerl (RM19) is baked to order. Not quite a souffle though but at least it doesn´t threaten to sink the minute it´s removed from the oven, so you can slowly enjoy it and savour the flavours with that of strawberry and chocolate sauce.
Vienna Cafe is open daily from 8.30am to 10pm.
3rd Floor, Suria KLCC
Tel: 03-2161 8268