Monday, February 11, 2013

Viener Fest Offers So Much More Than a Meal

Buying meals in America long ago became more about a quick drive-thru than a leisurely sit-down experience. That’s a shame, too, because the stimulating and refreshing experience of sharing food and drink with family and friends away from worldly cares provides so much more than mere nourishment. In the right circumstances – or more to the point in the right restaurant – it can even be a saving grace.
The wind storms on January 30 hit home literally for my family when a large tree in our backyard was lifted from its roots and fell, totaling our two vehicles as well as doing minor damage to our house while bringing down power and cable lines. One of our cats, Otis, was even missing for eight days afterward.
All that came the day after my wife’s 50th birthday. It understandably made the situation more depressing since she couldn’t really savor the occasion as much that week as she (and Katie and I) would have liked. And it was with this calamity firmly in mind that we went to Viener Fest for the first time just two days later.
The new restaurant is located at 117 28th Ave. North near Centennial Park. It has a crisp, clean modern feel as you walk in, big enough to be comfortable but small enough to be intimate. And with the friendly staff overseen by General Manager (it would be accurate to call him “Gentleman Manager” as well) Jeffrey Ellis the establishment certainly feels like the next best thing to home.
We fortunately went on the first night that alcohol was available at Viener Fest thanks to their just-approved license. While Katie drank her Sprite Ann and I shared a lovely and very affordable bottle of fruity 2011 Mezzacorona Pinot Grigio ($19) made from grapes grown in the Dolomite mountains of Northern Italy that came from Wine Enthusiast Magazine's 2010 European Winery of the Year.
Since German-Austrian cuisine is the emphasis at Viener Fest I decided to also have an Erdinger Pikantus Wiekenbock ($7). It’s a strong wheat lager that went down quite smoothly with the food brought at just the right pace to our table by our kindly server, Nashville actor Andrew Derminio.
For vorspeisen (appetizers) we chose the Sausage Sampler ($7.95). It included a delectable array of three mouthwatering sausages accompanied by house-made mustard that Ellis says Viener Fest may sell separately in the near future. I certainly hope so – its sweet and savory taste was the perfect complement to the sausages, and it would go well with a host of other foods.
Ann and I had the Weiner Schnitzel ($10.95) for our main course, though with variations – hers was made with eggplant while I opted for veal (one of the people sitting near us had the Holstein Schnitzel [$13.95] with a lemon/caper sauce and fried egg as pictured above, which certainly looked like a great choice as well). Both were well-prepared and quite tasty. And among the side dishes we thoroughly enjoyed their tender Braised Red Cabbage (in a perfectly balanced balsamic/brown sugar reduction), their wonderfully tangy Sauerkraut and some melt-in-your-mouth Spaetzle, which are egg noodles that are served plain or as I had them with spinach.
Viener Fest provides menu items for those who might want something else, and our 13-year-old daughter happily sunk her teeth into a Fried Bologna Sandwich ($6.95) that features a good-sized slab of meat between two slices of sourdough bun with American cheese and mustard. She enjoyed the accompanying French fries as well.
Last, but certainly not least, was dessert. I chose their version of the Sacher Torte ($5.25) while Katie and Ann tucked into Viener Fest’s Apfelstrudel ($4.95). I have tasted the bittersweet-chocolate torte at its home in Vienna’s Hotel Sacher, and theirs instantly took me back to that sublime memory – the apricot jam filling alone is a shot of joy. And our other finishing selection featured a delectable flaky pastry, apples, rum-macerated raisins and a smooth caramel sauce that made it all go down so sweetly.
While we obviously enjoyed all we ate and drank it’s the atmosphere fostered by Ellis and his team that really made the experience so positive. At Viener Fest you’re treated like family from the moment you walk in until you depart. It meant so much to my family during an otherwise difficult week. Hopefully you’ll go there in happier times, but no matter what’s happening elsewhere when you enter Viener Fest expect to forget your cares. It's truly a place where one can savor family and friends while enjoying excellent food and drink prepared and served by convivial professionals.
Viener Fest Hours:
Monday – Wednesday: 11:00 am - 10:00 pm, Thursday - Saturday: 11:00 am - 12:00 am, Sunday: 11:00 am - 10:00 pm
Attire: Casual
Phone: (615) 730-5085

*Logo and photos courtesy Viener Fest.

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