When it was clear I would return to Vienna for a long weekend (after nearly twenty years since my last visit), I was drawn between going back to the city’s dining icon Steirer Eck which remains one of Vienna’s most lauded restaurants, or to seek out one of the excellent new places that have sprung up in this breathtaking city.
As the headline undoubtedly gives away, my choice fell on one of the new kids on the block so to say, although Konstantin Filippou opened his restaurant already back in 2013.
Upon entering the small restaurant, what becomes immediately obvious is how the place reflects the chef’s preferred colour scheme. It is dominated by black with just a few hues of white, brown and gold. Staff too – both in the kitchen and service – are wearing all black.
Filippou’s cooking style too is in total sync with the minimalist yet elegant design of the place – down to the main ingredients and without any stylistic twists or overdone arrangements on the plate which I often find distracting from the main intention, which is to enjoy excellent food.
From the dining room, you can observe the kitchen through a window front and some of the courses will be finalized at the counter at the end of the dining area, where also the chefs table is located.
One thing that truly impressed me was how calm and seamless the kitchen staff was moving around while preparing the food. There was absolutely no hustle and bustle. Instead, it all seemed like a perfectly studied choreography.
I also loved the way the food was presented at the table with every single member in service expertly presenting and explaining each course.
For dinner, Konstantin Filippou offers a six course set menu which if you like can be extended to a ten course menu by adding four surprise courses. Knowing we would struggle to finish ten courses, we choose to stick with the main menu.
Always the one choosing the dark bread when offered, I was really pleased to see a dark sourdough bread arriving at the table. The accompanying onion butter was a perfect match.
The menu then kicked off with a very delicate amuse bouch of tuna tartar with barley risotto and roasted potatoes.
The second amuse bouch – a roasted onion cream – was served in a little tart. Though we were advised to eat it whole as otherwise the liquid filling would spill out, I found it impossible to put the whole thing into my mouth! However, a good way around that was drinking the cream out of the tart first and then finishing with the tart.
The third amuse bouch was a brandade of black cod and Grüll-caviar. Though it does not look very spectacular served in a rather unassuming bowl, with it very elegant fishy flavours, it was clearly a dish that set a high bar for the rest of the menu to come. I am usually not a huge fan of caviar, I really liked the one from Walter Grüll, who is the only producer of caviar in Austria.
Next came the first course of the menu, a delicate salmon trout with a perfect firm texture, served in an aromatic cream with mustard pickle and dill.
A real highlight was the utterly delicious Croatian langostino. It was loaded with flavour and worked very well with an aromatic cream of veal tongue and seaweed.
The next course once again looked a bit unassuming when it arrived. However, the unagi dish which is inspired by the traditional Japanese eel dish was another real pleasure to taste. It was accompanied by a smoky Spanish Ibérico, mustard and fennel cream which added a nice zing.
The last of the main courses was a Lake Neusiedl pike perch, perfectly prepared and served with a topping of hazelnut, mushrooms, truffle and marrow.
The menu finished with three dessert courses. First, a wild rice topped with black current and salted almond. A great flavour combination that was very well balanced between the slightly sweet flavour of the rice nicely rounded by the strong flavour of the black currant.
The second dessert when it arrived at first looked a bit heavy on the chocolate side but turned out to be a pleasant, very soft elder mousse rounded with flavours of horseradish and apple.
The final dessert was a yogurt sorbet served with little cubes of apricot and a crunchy crumble with nuts.
Complementing the menu was a selection of sweet, tart and fruity petit fours.
It was a really enjoyable dinner and the various awards the chef and his team won in recent years are in my view totally owned. Although the restaurant was fully booked on a Friday evening, service was very efficient and at no time rushed with staff taking the time to expertly explain the different courses. I also like the smaller size of the dishes which were large enough to feel totally satiated but without feeling overly full.
Restaurant Konstantin Filippou
A 1010 Wien