It's hard to believe, but there is yet another new upscale dining option opening in Nali Patio. And it's called Tafelspitz.
It's fun to say! Ta-fel-spitz! Put on your lederhosen, or whatever!
"Tafelspitz" is boiled beef and horseradish -- the national dish of Austria. And trust me, from as little as I know about the country, Tafelspitz the restaurant is as aggressively Austrian as it's name. They literally played the “Danube Waltz” on their speakers, so take that.
In we go.
The front of house literally jumped to attention as we came in on a weekday evening at about 8pm. The space was meat locker-cold without a single customer present. Vibe is 1980s expense account, like Patrick Bateman cutting lines with his gold AMEX at an embassy party. Inoffensive modern art on the walls, stemware absolutely everywhere and photo printed glass panels. The bathroom door is activated by touch sensitive panels for some reason and a mini fridge of Red Bull (an Austrian invention) on the bar seems incongruent to fine dining.
Lots of extraneous design on display. Fine dining options in Nali Patio have expanded to near critical mass, making it imperative to create a distinctive impression, which is lacking here. My favorite touch were the mounted gilded antlers, which had me longing for a pine wood paneled ski lodge vibe with strategically placed taxidermy. With kitsch, the rule is just go balls deep or it's just a missed opportunity.
I had the four-course menu (368rmb). The current menu has a recommended set menu with wine pairing options, starting at 108rmb for two glasses.
Herbed compound butter and a luscious whipped butter infused with pumpkin seed oil dotted with edible flowers arrived. Various tasty tiny bread options including black bread, bacon rolls and other hearty gluten attacks are doled out.
An amuse-bouche of adorable treasures followed, with the star of the show being a ridiculously extraordinary crumb of bacon perched on a tiny cubed potato fried in the rendered fat. The same life-affirmingly gorgeous bacon returned in many forms throughout the courses, and was always welcomed.
A low point was had with the appetizer of rabbit wrapped in filo dough (105rmb a la carte) Rabbit, a naturally gamey and fatty meat, is somehow present in the form of a nearly tasteless lean protein reminiscent of Bavarian weisswürste, or white sausage. The zucchini foam and perfect marinated artichokes decorating the plate helped to inject some boldness.
After a richly satisfying homemade cured salmon (78rmb a la carte), tables were cleared and wine was poured. The seemingly terrified waitstaff was extremely friendly, but very nervous. When a bit of sauce from the first course fell upon the tablecloth, the maître d' blanched. This is dinner guys, not a hostage situation.
Break! A lovely papaya sorbet with a crown of crispy candied banana infused with chili. Completely refreshing and delicious.
After the well made, but slightly bland Halibut filet entree (178rmb a la carte), we ended with curd cheese dumplings (78rmb a la carte). The rich apricot sorbet almost made me nearly forget about the lovely butter balls of cheese and chocolate that made the “meat” of the dish. The dessert game is absolutely on point here at Tafelspitz.
As we set out to leave, the gregarious proprietor let us check out a tiny glass paneled, KTV-esque private bar room. For some reason, the glass panels were littered with quotes from famous Austrians in unattractive fonts including this gem from the star of Kindergarden Cop:
The take-away: Tafelspitz! Definitely recommended, but I'm not sure for when or for what. There are simply too many other quality dining options around the area, especially considering their steep prices. And Austrian food doesn't scream sexy Saturday date night as do the numerous Spanish and Japanese competition in the area.
Maybe if your meat-and-potatoes dad is in town and it's his birthday?
A going away party for someone who works at the Austrian embassy?
That's for you, dear reader, to decide. <3
Tafelspitz is on the fourth floor of Nali Patio, right when you come out of the elevator.