The Perfect Pairing | Heunisch & Erben

Heunisch & Erben’s huge wine selection and scrumptious menu make the perfect pairing.

Vienna has enjoyed a flurry of wine bistro openings in recent years, with star chef Konstantin Filippou’s O boufés setting the standard. The latest addition, Heunisch & Erben, is more than worthy though, a classy-yet-hip new sprout on Vienna’s culinary tree with dozens of wines available by the glass and a thousand more by the bottle. But don’t let yourself get too distracted by the divine nectar; the food is not just a supporting act. Located in a grand building just steps away from the Wien Mitte railway station, tall, arched windows open up to the street on two sides, letting in sunshine during the day and streetlight at night. Blond, wooden tables and white walls contrast with the otherwise dark, intimate interior. Contemporary beats form a backdrop for lively conversations, reinforcing H&E’s metropolitan vibe. Most importantly, a shelved wall full of wine bottles and wooden wine crates dangling om the ceiling make it clear that this is not the place to order ein prickelndes Wasser (sparkling water).

We compliantly but happily ordered our aperitifs. Our helpful waiter, Benjamin, attentively directed us to a “freaky Riesling” from Burgenland, pointing out that their selection of wines by the glass changes continuously, “so there is always something new and exciting.” To experience the full scope, we asked the sommelier for a different glass with each dish. Especially for lovers of low intervention (or natural), occasionally freaky wines, H&E makes you feel like a kid in a candy store.

… And Ambrosia

On the food side, you can order à la carte or assemble your own four- to six-course “set” menu from an overlapping, but smaller, selection. By each choosing four courses, my dining companion and I were able to sample a wide range of dishes. We soon found out that Heunisch & Erben not only know their wine, but their food as well. Whether it was the artfully plated trout with avocado – elegantly draped with a slice of pickled celeriac and small chunks of blood orange – or the crunchy croquette of short rib with romaine lettuce and cream of red pepper, every dish was spot on. Our favorite was the medium rare organic Rieddeckel (cap of fore-rib): perfectly rosé but firm and crispy on the outside, with just the right amount of sinful, silky fattiness. The Haubenköche (star chefs), Peter Zinter and Michael Gubik, deliver on their promise: “We are undogmatic. We like to use seasonal and regional produce, but first and foremost it has to be tasty .” It certainly was. If anything needs improvement, it is the number of vegetarian options.

To give us the complete H&E experience, Benjamin rounded off our meal with a small glass of apple Eiswein, a low-alcohol novel that formed a sublime match with the caramelized apple and exotic nutmeg ice cream.

With a superabundance of mostly local wines and dishes high in flavor, Heunisch & Erben manages to offer patrons a modern and complete dining experience in an informal and international setting. Perhaps the greatest praise of all, O boufés’s own Konstantin Filippou was sitting next to the door when we left. Heunisch & Erben couldn’t have wished for a better recommendation than one of Vienna’s gourmet bigwigs bidding the guests farewell.

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