During my recent stay in Vienna for my day job, I passed by Paul every day on my way to work. It was pretty much at the midway point: 5 minutes’ walk from my hotel near St Stephen’s, 5 minutes from the office near Wien Mitte.
Ranking and Atmosphere
As usual I had read up on all the local eateries way before my departure from London. So I was fully aware that Paul was at or near the top of almost all rankings out there. I don’t know what took me so long to visit. I waited nearly until the last week of my stay. Prior to that I mainly went for more traditional places, or, at times, for something foreign like an Italian or a Greek. I’m guessing that Paul simply does not fall into a category I typically choose. It is a level below proper fine-dining (another category I enjoy) and has a pleasant but unusual atmosphere somewhere between business/smart/corporate, traditional Viennese Café, and a kind of slight hipster/yuppie vibe.
From the moment I walked through the door, the service was excellent. I was greeted and led straight to my table. Soon-after, the waiter arrived again. He talked me through the menu and the specials of the day, patiently answering all my questions with wit and a good sense of humour.
I ordered Birnenschaumwein (pear prosecco) for €6.50 as aperitif to pass the time until my starter of Ochsenschleppsuppe mit Leberknoedel (clear oxtail soup with liver dumpling) for €9 would arrive. My main of Rosagebratener Hirschruecken mit Sellerie, Birne, und Salbeiwalnuessen (pink roasted saddle of venison with celeriac, pear, sage and walnuts) for €29 would be accompanied by a small glass of Blaufraenkisch red wine for €6, before my dessert of Birnensorbet mit Birnenschnaps (pear sorbet with a shot of pear schnaps) for €10 would arrive. There’s an extra charge of €3 per cover.
Appetizer and Prosecco
The prosecco arrived within a minute or two and the pear flavour did go very well with it. A few moments later the waiter served some bread with truffle butter and parsley cream spread, some speck, cured ham, and chorizo, very delightful.
The oxtail soup arrived before I even finished the cured meats and really pushed all the right buttons. The liver dumpling medium rare, the vegetables still with a good bite, not all mushy. Was there a pleasant hint of wild garlic essence?
Not a minute had passed after I had gobbled down the last bits of bread and chorizo, when the venison was served. The presentation was beautiful. The two bits of medium venison turned out to be more sizeable than I had thought at first glance. The celeriac puree, walnuts, and sage went very well with the four quarters of poached pear. I am one of those people that order venison whenever it’s on the menu (unless the restaurant does something even more exquisite like rabbit, reindeer, or pheasant). Paul’s venison was right up there with the best.
I was glad that the friendly waiter left a bit of a gap between the main and the dessert. This meant that I could reflect on the day passed, plan a bit for the day ahead, and enjoy the last few drops of my Blaufraenkisch Eisenberg DAC 2014 Schuetzenhof Suedburgenland. I’m usually more into Spanish, French, and Italian reds, but you can never go wrong with a good Blaufraenkisch.
The Dessert and Conclusion
The pear sorbet and the pear schnaps from distillery Pfau in Klagenfurt delivered a fabulous finish to this evening to me. I’ll definitely return to restaurant Paul during my next visit to Vienna, possibly as early as next month. 5 out of 5.
The Meaning of “Pear-Shaped”
For the avoidance of confusion: in colloquial British English, when an evening goes “pear-shaped” it means that it goes horrible. Some say that this idiom comes from Royal Air Force jargon about them flying loops that go pear-shaped instead of loop-shaped.
Looking for more reviews of Viennese restaurants? Check out our posts about Weibel’s Wirtshaus, Gasthaus Poeschl, Café Korb, or Zum Weissen Rauchfangkehrer. For reviews of restaurants around the world try Ekeberg, Oslo, Her Name Is Han in New York City, The Robot Restaurant in Tokyo, or Classico in Frankfurt.
For travel and adventure, feel welcome to eyeball our posts about boxing, kayaking, rally-driving, and rollerskiing in and around London, canyoning near Porto, caving in Somerset, or hiking in the Forest of Dean.