It’s all too common an occurrence to say “let’s go eat somewhere at Museums Quartier” when out and about downtown. Wien’s cultural headquarters is just such a convenient solution to the hunger conundrum and especially when in a group, for it offers a nice selection of restaurants serving up food that agrees with varied palates and a mellow atmosphere one can count on. Yet it’s precisely this somewhere at MQ that does a restaurant like ‘Halle’ an injustice, for it should be a destination on its own. Years of MQ visits and somehow this place evaded me. Looks like the umpteenth time is the charm.
Located gegenüber from the main entrance of MQ, Halle is actually the restaurant for Kunsthalle Wien, MQ’s exhibition space for contemporary art. Fitting, then, since the restaurant itself is a modernist’s mecca. Inside, oversized lamps hang and billowing curtains flow above long rows of leather benches. A closer look, though, and you’ll see the space isn’t so much modern as it is modernized, for you actually happen to be sitting in the Hapsburg’s former winter riding hall. You know, as one does in Vienna.
But sit inside on a gorgeous midsummer’s night like the one last week when I was here with my girlfriends? Unthinkable. Thankfully we were able to nab a table outside at Halle’s summer shanigarten. Under the shade of a tree and amidst the setup for a public fashion show, this place was the perfect perch.
The evening started out as most have this summer, with dear old Hugo. Such a constant companion, that Hugo. He’s here to stay.
And on our table? A total mix, just like Halle’s menu, which is best described as modern, international, and with the random New Austrian dish here and there. It’s positively brimming with delicious options. I wanted something light and chose the vegetarian wrap. Fresh vegetables, black beans, feta, avocado, tomatoes and pico de gallo. Perfekt.
A friend had the club sandwich. Toasted bread, chicken breast, bacon, tomatoes, and no, your eyes are not deceiving you, that would indeed be some cheddar cheese. In Austria. A midsummer miracle.
Another friend had the chanterelle risotto served with fresh parsley and crispy parmesan. These mushrooms (Eierschwammerl) are a big deal this time of year around here; many Austrians head into the woods to scavenge them and whip them into delightful creations.
Finally, two others shared this pan of goodness, which was a buttery, garlicky mix of seafood to be enjoyed and sopped up with crusty bauernbrot. Everything served up this evening was distinctive, fresh, and somehow the right mix for our varied group. If a diverse menu with Austrian flair in a hip location at a restaurant with standout design rings a bell, it might not surprise you that Halle belongs to one of the “it” groups of restaurants in Wien, The Motto Group. (I’ve written about two of their others here and here.) Those folks have a fein thing going on; it will be interesting to see what comes next.
All in all, an ace. Great food, views, service, and atmosphere. A future priority among the many MQ options.