Growing up on the Atlantic has spoiled me in many ways. I sleep best close to the ocean where I can hear the waves and smell the salt in the air. I played in tide pools, surfed, and sailed as a kid and will take the shocking cold of the Atlantic over the tepid, chlorine waters of a pool any day. The richest sunsets are followed by the starriest night skies at the end of the earth. And there is nothing like fresh seafood straight from the source.
In sweet little landlocked Austria fresh seafood is a bit harder to come by and the prices are usually quite high. I find that I have many doubts concerning the freshness of the seafood. There are a handful of positively reviewed seafood restaurants but as they pale in comparison to standard Austrian fare, I wonder how well these restaurants do and if they can afford to serve the freshest catch.
A meal at Kornat recently put my fears to rest. Kornat is a fish restaurant located just off of Schwedenplatz that imports its fare from the Dalmatian Coast. The ambiance is refined and the food is exquisite. The catch of the day is proudly displayed on beds of ice in the window from which the fish is procured and brought to the table for approval before being prepared in a glass-plated kitchen that invites peeking.
I shared an appetizer of octopus salad, tuna tartar, and swordfish carpaccio to begin the meal. The portions were gracious and the texture and flavor of the food was rich and delicious. My main course was an order of mussels prepared in a white wine broth and served with grilled bread. The sauce was delicate and perfectly complimented the slight saltiness of the mussels which were all open and of decent size. My dining partner enjoyed the grilled calamari which was phenomenal, avoiding the pitfalls of rubbery texture and tastelessness that often befall it – even the side dish of potatoes was particularly well seasoned and cooked.
The mark of a truly delectable meal, there is no evidence of it because I couldn’t wait long enough to take a picture before savoring every last bite!
Kornat is a very special restaurant that calls for very special occasions – a far cry from the typical East Coast honest roadside fare that I grew up with – but its nonetheless a relief to know that delicious seafood is available in Vienna.
Marc Aurel Strasse 8