Rien, a Culinary Pop-Up Takes Over at Vienna’s Legendary Cafe Griensteidl

The pop-up restaurant Rien recaptures the intellectual and artistic spirit of the legendary Café Griensteidl

Establishments rise and fall in the gastronomic world, yet when a legendary institution goes under the aftershock lingers. It was no different last June, when the famous Café Griensteidl, a center of Vienna’s literati that counted the likes of Arthur Schnitzler, Stefan Zweig and Hugo von Hofmannsthal among its regulars, finally closed its doors. In truth, however, the party ended long ago when the original closed in 1897; its final incarnation dated merely back to 1990, and largely capitalized on its famous past to attract tourists.

Yet a little bit of the old Griensteidl may return: In place of the storied Kaffeehaus, promising young chefs Lucas Steindorfer and Simon Kotvojs – working with the friendship.iscreative collective – are reinventing the premises as a playground for experimentation by combining an extensive cultural program with culinary delights. Under the new name Rien, the former tourist hot spot is now a pop-up where locals and creatives can once again feel at home – even if only temporarily.

Both born and bred in Vienna, Steindorfer and Kotvojs have recently returned after extended travels around the world, armed with new ideas for classic recipes and a reaffirmed appreciation for locally sourced products, seasonal produce and homemade ingredients. Their goulash made with organic water buffalo meat from Burgenland is set to be one of the menu’s highlights.

While they hadn’t worked together previously, the partnership sparked almost immediately – which might have something to do with their shared love for the outdoors. When the two aren’t in the kitchen fine-tuning their menu, you can find them in the Vienna Woods or the Prater foraging for ingredients. It adds to a dish’s story, Kotvojs believes. The recipe they’ve shared encapsulates their culinary journey perfectly: an Austrian version of a dish that’s inspired them on their travels. Their “Seeviche” – a portmanteau of see (lake) and seviche –uses locally caught sea trout marinated in homemade sauerkraut. It’s a local reinterpretation that’s more than welcome.

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© Catherine Margaret

Clean the fillet, removing the bones and skin. Cut into 5 mm strips and store in a cool place. Drain the sauerkraut and add salt to the juice. Cut the cucumber into four pieces, remove the seeds and cut into thin slices. Halve the pepper, remove the seeds, and cut into thin strips. Peel the red onion, slice thinly, and pickle it in a marinade of water, vinegar, sugar and salt. Boil the mustard seeds, then mix with the marinated onions. Cut the spring onion into rings and clean in cold water.

Marinate the fillet for a few minutes in the sauerkraut juice, then mix with the sauerkraut, cucumber and pepper, adding a pinch of salt. Place on a dish and garnish with the red and spring onions.

Ingredients (Serves 4)

400 g sea trout fillet
250 g sauerkraut
1 cucumber
1 pepper
2 tsp mustard seeds
1 red onion
1 bay leaf
2 spring onions
a pinch of salt


100 ml water
50 ml apple cider vinegar
1 tsp sugar a pinch of salt

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