Ahh Schnitzel. There is nothing more Austrian than a thin, well breaded, crunchy, juicy, salty, lemony piece of tenderized veal. Forget about the pork and the chicken imitations, those sad, thick, chewy attempts of emulating the uniqueness of a Wiener Schnitzel. Not to speak of turkey or even tofurky. Blasphemy.
There is one place you will always get an excellent Schnitzel, as well as other traditional Austrian dishes – the Plachutta. But if you want to stray off the tourist path you should consider trying a Schnitzel at Gastwirtschaft Schilling.
Only two blocks from the loud and dusty Gürtel Schilling greets you with the warmth of its wood-lined walls, dimmed lights and something rather unusual in today’s time – silence. There is no background music. No soft asexual jazz or Austria’s top 40 blaring from speakers at every corner. Once you get used to the thoughts in your head that suddenly appear to be very loud and the fact that the couple at the table next to you has the chance to listen to your entire conversation, you order yourself a Krügerl or a Zweigelt and study the menu if you don’t want to opt for the Schnitzel.
They have a special of the day and also a lunch menu – the “Mittagsmenü”. The staff is very friendly and doesn’t make you rush. The tables are large which means that the restaurant fills up fast with only few guests. I counted fifteen people in the non smoking section and it was already full. There is a long table for larger parties in the smoking area (soon to be no more with Austria being one of the last countries in the EU to ban smoking in restaurants completely in May 2018… pretty damn late but I understand the nostalgia).
Now to the Schnitzel. Almost as big as the plate it comes on with a bubbly coat of breadcrumbs the appetizing piece of veal comes with a slice of lemon, a side of mâche (Vogerlsalat) and cold potato salad (Kartoffelsalat) with a spritzer of pumpkin seed oil. If you like your meats with sweets, you can order a side of Preiselbeersoße – lingonberry sauce. Simply delightful. However the cook must have been in love since the Schnitzel was slightly on the salty side. The potato salad had just the right acidity with the potatoes cooked to ideal softness. The mâche, simple and fresh, was a great balance to the vinegary potatoes. A wonderful, authentic Viennese experience. Mahlzeit!