Deval restaurant brings bold flavors, regional ingredients and an international outlook to the Rathaus Grätzl.
As the trend toward local produce and cooking techniques continues to spread, Vienna’s diners have increasingly had the pleasure of tasting all the surrounding region has to offer. But just because you cook only with Austrian products doesn’t mean dishes have to be exclusively local, as Dutch chef Daan de Val and his Ottakringer fiancée Evelyn Schranz conclusively prove at their restaurant Deval near the Rathaus. Open since last December, their concept is to buy high-quality Austrian produce only, mostly from small producers, and use all parts of it. But the keen observer will notice that the menu is far from regional. There are many influences here, and, unusually for Vienna’s culinary landscape, there is a distinct Dutch flavor to De Val’s cooking.
Despite his roots, De Val is much more international than you’d expect: The first eight years of his life were spent in Melbourne, his paternal grandmother is Indone- sian, he studied psychology in Vienna and eventually did his gastronomical Meisterprüfung at the Culinary Institute of America in Napa, California. Initially, gastronomy was a hobby that got out of hand until a friend pushed him to go pro six years ago. After a stint in Seattle and cooking for the Canadian, French and South African embassies in Vienna, he worked with Toni Mörwald as his Kochamt’s head chef. Now, at 32, De Val has realized his dream of his own restaurant.
Daan de Val and Evelyn Schranz
AROUND THE WORLD
While many of his dishes, like the celeriac pannacotta with creamy dollops of cashew milk, are quite subtle, De Val has a fondness for bold flavors, as he told me after hours on a recent Saturday night. Here his Indo-Dutch roots shine through: He learned to love sambal from his Indonesian grandma, and he uses locally grown chilies to give a kick to the rarely-served fillet of tench, a carp-related fish he sources from Styria. Delivered to the restaurant alive, it happily swims in a tank in the morning before landing fresh on your plate in the evening. Following the nose-to-tail principal, he stores the skin for use in a future menu.
Another Dutch special served is the bitterbal, a spherical, crispy croquette typically filled with veal ragout and eaten with an aperitif; Deval has a version with lamb as part of a starter. The Rindsbäckchen (beef cheeks) of Wagyu will remind older Nederlanders of draadjesvlees, or slow cooked, super soft beef. Ripened in ash and slowly braised for 72 hours, it’s tender as tender can be.
Dessert also had a minor Dutch twist: The homemade marzipan ice cream with pear pre- serve and chocolate came with a mildly sweet sauce reminiscent of roomboterbabbelaars, a type of candy from Zeeland similar to butterscotch.
But while these examples may give the impression you’re in for a Dutch treat at Deval’s, that would be inaccurate – just like himself, De Val’s cooking is essentially international. Observed from a different viewpoint, you may just as well detect Austrian or French details. But whichever way you look at it, De Val is an excellent chef with an enormous passion for what he does; He tries to spend at least a couple of minutes at each table – a great opportunity not only to understand his delectable dishes, but also to experience his undiluted Dutch enthusiasm.
Doblhoffgasse 5 – Wenen (Oostenrijk)
T: +43 1 890 8797
De Val and Schranz: Tim Cavadini
Dish: Katharina Güte
A slightly altered version of this article was published in Metropole – Vienna in English, Fall 2019 issue no. 36.