Friday 22 May 2015

"Zum Wohl", Gluten- & Lactose-Free Restaurant, Vienna: a Review

The landlady of the lovely guest-house where we are staying in Vienna, suggested we might like to try Zum Wohl (literally meaning "To Your Health"; said as a toast or after sneezing) just a few hundred metres from our temporary residence. The offerings are stated to be one-hundred-percent lactose-free, 100% gluten-free. Even their own-brand beer (see the advertising-hoarding image below).

Zum Wohl is entered via a stolid but modern entrance (image below), tastefully built into the hundred-plus-year-old edifice. However, one must negotiate several large steps. Wheelchair-users without an assistant would not be able to enter, as the door itself is too heavy and pulls outwards. There was no button or bell to call for assistance from staff as far as I could tell.

The interior is not as bright as the photograph below might suggest. It is well lit, but also soft on the eye, which for this photophobe was just right. We were permitted to choose where we wished to sit. As in many venues in Vienna, seating of different heights and differing styles was available.

My companion, having eaten heartily earlier in the day, only wished to dine on a salad. He opted for Käferbohnen (called Feuerbohnen in Germany) und Erdäpfel (Kartoffel in German German) Salat, runner bean & potato salad with Speck. In this instance the Speck was bacon, but it can also be a type of air-dried prosciutto. The dish, as can be seen in the snap below, was beautifully presented, so appealed to the eye. My chum devoured it, despite not being hungry - delicious he said! Costing €4,90 this was excellent value for money.

Dining for me, tends to be somewhat more problematic, as I have a severe food allergy to garlic (Knof(e)l in Austrian German; Knoblauch in German German). I always make any eatery aware of this before I order. At first the waiter advised me that any dish could be prepared without garlic; but after checking with the kitchen he apprised me that I could not have anything with vegetables as they had been pre-prepared and all contained garlic. This left me with a single option for my mains and a choice of salads. I was glad I opted for the large salad, which contained both lettuce and mixed salad leaves, as well as cucumber, radish, cherry tomatoes (Paradeiser, Aust.; Tomaten, Ger.) and red & green peppers (capsicums). It was lightly dressed, tasty, crunchy, sweet - nigh on perfect. At €5,80 this represented good value for money.

Accompanying the salads were the lightest, tastiest and most delightful gluten-free breads I and my dining-companion have ever experienced. Top marks for these (below).

My sole choice for main was trout: served tepid, but a mouthwatering delight on the palate. This was accompanied by parsley potatoes, which were stodgy and reminiscent of school-dinners, and an assortment of veggies. The broccoli appeared to have come straight from the freezer and was most under-whelming. As can be seen from my visual record, there was no accompanying sauce. At €17.50 this was poor value for money. Disappointing.

Desserts. My chum was tempted by the pancake (Palatschinke, Aust.; Pfannkuche, Ger.). Again he was most impressed. At a mere €2,50 my friend was more than happy with his choice.

I opted for panna cotta with a ragoût of berry fruits (strawberry, raspberry, blackberry and redcurrant) and a rhubarb compôte. Both the ragoût and the compôte were just spot-on; but the panna cotta itself had the appearance and texture of plastic. A piece fell off my fork and bounced without breaking up which rather iterated its unusual constitution. At €6,50 this dish represented fair value for money, but I should not recommend it.

With wine for myself, beer for my friend, bottled Vöslauer water and two digestifs, the total bill came to a very reasonable €68 (about £50) for the two of us.

I would certainly go to Zum Wohl again for drinks and perhaps a salad for lunch; but I would not dine again. Having said that: this was the best free-from cuisine I have ever experienced.

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