Shambala Restaurant Vienna, Austria
For the perfect ending to a day of exploring the culturally sophisticated and historically rich city of Vienna, a visit to the Shambala Restaurant and Bar in the Le Meridien hotel on Ringstrasse is all you require.
The 128-seat, modernly designed restaurant boasts striking architecture and innovative design where you may dine in a relaxed atmosphere and enjoy the tantalizing “Cuisine Mondiale” –the new French kitchen, which is the ultimate expression of culinary sophistication. Here the focus is on fresh, exotic and healthy foods with influences from around the world.
Our evening began with our waiter suggesting that we try a series of different Austrian wines to complement the various courses we were about to enjoy. The restaurant staff at the Shambala prides itself on its thorough knowledge of every beverage and food item they serve, and the enthusiasm of our servers in sharing their knowledge with us made our dining experience that much richer.
We experienced a dining “first” on this evening when our waiter asked us if we’d like to see the Water Cart. “Water Cart?” we asked. “What’s that?” Our waiter promptly left our table, moments later to return with a rolling, silver tower upon which were stacked and mounted some twenty-five (yes, 25!) bottles of water. For the next 20 minutes or so we were charmed and enlightened with a very detailed analysis and description of bottled waters from Austria, France, Great Britain, Norway, Germany, The Netherlands, Italy, USA, Canada, and the Fiji Islands. For example, did you know that Fiji water comes from tropical rain, filtered hundreds of years through volcanic stone at the Viti Levus hills and that its soft, smooth taste and well-balanced mineral contents have a high level of silica? It comes in a square bottle, made compact and more secure for efficient shipping. At €8 (about $12 US) per half liter, this was a rare treat. The most expensive water? Bling H2O came in at €88 (about $132 US) for three quarters of a liter (slightly less than a quart). Bling, served in a glitzy rhinestone bottle, was the sole bottled water import from the US.
Shortly after being poured a glass of Fiji Water, we began our evening with a glass of 2006 Setzer “Roter Veltliner,” a white wine made from red (“roter”) grapes. We delighted in the dry, fruity taste of this exquisite Austrian vintage as we made our way through our initial course. My wife ordered the Lettuce Hearts Shambala, accompanied by brown bread, radishes, dried tomatoes and topped with a passion fruit dressing. I ordered carpaccio from orgnic ox, served with Mediterranean lobster tartar over lamb’s lettuce. We savored each bite, periodically exchanging our dishes throughout the meal to compare and to share in our mutual enjoyment. Other offerings on the menu included goat cheese terrine (marinated beetroot, with pineapple-raspberry jelly and water cress), tuna filet confit (with aromatic cantaloupe, wild herb salad and black sea salt from Hawaii), Salmon Pumpkin Mosaic (with roast potatoes and caviar crème fraiche), and galantine from organic chicken (served with goose liver heart, chili kumquat ragout and fruit bread).
Our second course started with a 2006 Domane Wachau, Gruner Veltline Smaragd, a more complex, spicy white wine, this time made from green (Gruner) grapes. My wife ordered the Atlantic lobster bisque made with snow peas, herb mushrooms and armagnac, a tasty soup we both enjoyed. I ordered caserecci, accompanied by tomato pesto, black olives, parmesan and balsamico. We took pleasure in each mouthful, commenting on the harmony of ingredients to produce such wonderful flavor. Other possible choices for this course were game poultry consommé, glazed scallops, shitake and oyster mushrooms, and chilipolenta.
Our third wine was a 2005 Salzi, “Zweigelt Barrique,” a delightful red that had a faint smoky-spicy flavor with just a hint of vanilla. This wine was well-suited to the organic ox steak my wife ordered served with zweigelt jus, truffled mushroom bags, and creamy leek. Every bite of her steak was mouth-watering and memorable. I ordered the Barbarie duck breast cooked in coconut milk and served with egg-noodles, sprouts and teriyaki sauce. I was equally well-pleased with my choice which I devoured heartily. Other possibilities on the menu were eel filet, John Dory filet, tuna steak, sole prawn, lamb osso bucco, and saddle of veal.
Although we could have called it an evening as we lingered over our dessert wine, we eventually ordered a pair of desserts that we just could not pass by. Our dessert wine was a 2006 Kracher “Beerenauslese Cuvee” that had a sweet, honey taste. My wife ordered the amarula mousse almond parfait, served on a bed of mint jelly, mango sauce, and accompanied by an exotic fruit “cigar.” My creation was called “Chocolate Fondue under Puff Pastry,” consisting of three chocolate pralines on a stick skewer. Although the appearance of this might be difficult to imagine, the taste was utterly heavenly.
It is said that “you cannot judge a book by its cover” and it is equally true in the case of the ultra modern Restaurant Shambala that you cannot predict from the stylish décor what type of dining experience awaits you. We were more than pleasantly surprised—we were utterly delighted—in each and every course we savored throughout our entire evening. Whether you crave an intimate dinner for two or a celebration including good friends, an evening at the Shambala restaurant will be one you will not likely soon forget.
Le Meridien Hotel
Phone: (43)(0) 1 588 90 0
Fax: (43)(0) 1 588 90 9090