Reduced to Elegance
With no less than five restaurants granted new stars in the prestigious Michelin guide last March, Vienna’s culinary firmament is lighting up. Chef Konstantin Filippou’s eponymous restaurant received a well-deserved second star, but the other four raised new entrants into the upper echelon of fine dining like Pramerl & The Wolf, a small but charming restaurant run by chef Wolfgang Zankl since 2015.
Its name a nod to Eduard Frauneder and Wolfgang Ban’s reimagined Heuriger Edi & The Wolf on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, Zankl’s restaurant is situated in a former taproom at the end of the cobblestoned Servitengasse, the premises still bearing endearing details like simple, blond wooden panels and a vintage bar. With just a handful of tables, it’s decidedly small and intimate – it has to be as cooking, service and wine are handled by just three people: Zankl himself, his sous-chef and a sommelier.
Currently, Pramerl & The Wolf only offers a surprise menu with no à la carte options: You simply choose between five, six or seven courses, all served with generous amounts of superb bread and butter. There is no cover charge – a small, but very sympathetic, gesture that deserves to be emulated elsewhere.
Portions are on the modest side, but the overall value is good. Still, had it not been for the bread, we would have walked out peckish after our five courses. Reduction and quality ingredients are central to Zankl’s cooking, resulting in seemingly uncomplicated dishes with intense flavors such as egg yolk with algae, spinach and spring herbs. When we asked what the sauce was made of, the sommelier could, disappointingly, only stammer what it was not.
Brilliant in its simplicity was their artful ribbon of potato with trout roe, sour cream and a delicate lettuce sauce that we greedily soaked up with chunks of bread. Less exciting, although succulent and pleasantly charred from the grill, was the chicken. Despite the morel mushrooms, which could have boosted the dish, it didn’t come alive, remaining somewhat understated.
On the other hand, their turbot with king boletes and a white wine sauce was a gem. A classic, but not an easy combination, Zankl presented a dish that was more than the sum of its delicate ingredients. The balance between the marine flavors of the subtlest of fishes and the finely sliced bolete was perfect.
The best was saved for last: Dessert was an imaginative combination of coffee ice cream, cream of Jerusalem artichoke and passion fruit. Light, delicate and elegant, the bold diversity of flavors – earthy tuber, bittersweet coffee and perfumed passion fruit – gave it a jolt that made us move to the edge of our seats.
We were charmed by the low-key atmosphere, which contrasts well with the sophisticated dishes; their notable selection of wines was a pleasant surprise. A smidgen more exuberance and a tad more generosity (save for the bread), would have given this newly elevated restaurant just that little bit more shine. However, Pramerl & The Wolf’s main strength is its deceptive understatement, and that doesn’t pair well with too much wow.
Pramerl & The Wolf
Pramergasse 21/1 – Vienna (Austria)
T: +43 1 946 4139
Tue: 19.00 – 24.00h, Wed-Sat: 18.00 – 24.00h
Chef: Wolfgang Zankl
Gault & Millau: 16/20, 2 toques
5-course menu: €65,-
6-course menu: €72,-
7-course menu: €77,-
A slightly altered version of this article was earlier published in Metropole – Vienna in English, October 2018 issue no. 31.