Idyllic. This has been Vienna for the past few weeks, and I am trinking it up. There’s been sun and fun, biking and hiking, and best of all–outdoor dining. While it’s also been beastly hot at times, I only have to think back to times like these to remember that the current temperatures should be appreciated and enjoyed, for they are fleeting. Soon the leaves will color and crisp, fall to the ground, and take the summer warmth with them far, far away.
Friends of ours invited us to lunch the other week here, at Nierscher. It’s a family-owned Buschenschank in Klosterneuburg. A what? If you are not familiar with the terms Buschenschank or Heuriger, these are essentially special types of restaurants unique to Austria that center around the year’s fresh wine. (‘Heuer’ means ‘this year’.) Prevalent in the Styrian countryside and near the outskirts of town in Vienna, they are an absolute must, for they offer a special dining experience that transports you to yesteryear with their often old-fashioned decor, traditional farmer-fare, and pastoral feel. I am partial to those in Steiermark, where my husband comes from, but this recent experience makes me think that I owe the Viennese circuit another chance.
You know Vienna’s ‘mountain,’ Kahlenberg? Well Nierscher is basically at its foot on the other side. You can reach it by driving up and over, passing flower fields that offer you the chance to pick your own bouquets. Located on a residential street, nestled among stately homes and along a little creek, it is a quiet and peaceful place with picnic tables, an unbelievable play area for kinder, magnificent trees, and a main cabin from where the food is served. This is the definition of a respite from stressful city life. (Okay, so life in Vienna isn’t all that stressful, but still.)
With the afternoon sun painting the landscape with golden patches, the setting was stunning for a languid afternoon spent drinking, eating, and chatting. We started off with a mix of fresh grape juice and water, icy cold and oh so necessary on this hot summer day.
When hunger struck, we made our way to the ‘cabin’ to order. (This differs from my experiences in Steiermark, where you are waited on.) The tented seating area was empty, as everyone wanted to be outside.
The interior of this restaurant was woodsy with just the right amount of kitsch. One could choose from fresh salad options, various casseroles, an array of sides, dumplings, different meats like roasted chicken, schweinsbraten, or sausage, and of course, brimming baskets full of just-baked bread and pretzels.
I went for a mixed salad plate and topped it with two prosciutto rolls that had been stuffed with goat cheese. Lip smacking.
My husband got half a roasted chicken and a side of some ooey-gooey-cheesy potatoes and vegetables. We shared a laugenstange. Everything tasted great. Fresh and crisp vegetables, tender meat, and pillowy bread with a flaky crust. Über delicious.
Oh, and then this happened. Nierscher makes one heck of a bowle, which let’s just say is Austrian happy punch, a drink that in the summertime, always tends to find me rather than me finding it. It’s made of sparkling water, juice, freshly cut fruit, and um, a few other ingredients too:) More often than not, I have to oblige. There is really no better way to cool off.
When the time comes to stretch your legs, Nierscher has plenty of options. Head to its ‘farm area’ and say hello to some four-legged and winged freunde…
It doesn’t get any more ‘natural,’ ‘local,’ or ‘real food’ than this! An interesting tidbit? Many of these restaurants have strict regulations that require a high percentage of their food to come from the premises of the restaurant. I.e. all livestock that live on the restaurant property actually sustain the operation.
So get out of the city and head north to Nierscher. Your head, stomach, and heart will thank you.