For some reason, this year everyone and their dog are bitching about the skyrocketing prices of St. Martin’s geese in Austria. One possible explanation for this is that the prices in some restaurants are indeed skyrocketing. On the other hand, the price increase is by no means universal, and especially outside of Vienna, one can still find a perfectly good goose at a cost not much different from that in 2021. The funny thing is, the precursors of the current situation were well noticeable a year ago, when many establishments began to turn to a two-class goose system. While generic imported goose legs remained at about 20 euros, the Austrian “once happy but now dead” Weidegänse were already sold for at least ten euros more. Capitalism does not need an excuse to screw you up.
Moreover, capitalism does not give a damn, because no matter what, there will always be groups of friends going for a goose. The trend that bothers me more than the price hike is that for whatever reason this year most good restaurants stopped serving goose punctually after the St. Martin’s day on November 11th. That left me scarce choice but to arrange a goose-eating party at the Alte Kaisermühle, a restaurant as convenient as it is contradictory. In the past days, I have heard two extremely good assessments of its goose and one extremely critical one.
On a positive side, the table we had was the coziest in the entire restaurant, and the service was both efficient and friendly. The dish was also well presented, and the choice between red cabbage and white cabbage with bacon, as well as between potato and bread dumplings was very welcome. Unlike my friends, I went for the unconventional choice – white cabbage with bread dumplings – and got it 50% correct. Honestly speaking, I 50% fucked it up, for the white cabbage was ghastly. Extremely acidic, it did not even have tough and tasty bits of bacon in it. Instead, the bacon was undercooked and tasteless, while the cabbage was overcooked and disgustingly sour. The dumpling, on the other hand, tasted like slightly grilled bread and thus managed to improve the overall impression.
The goose itself was also unbalanced. Only legs were served – which is always suspicious – but to Kaisermühle’s credit, each leg was accompanied by quite a big slice of meat. The meat around the leg’s bone was substandard: undercooked and not particularly fresh. The extra meat portion, however, was much better. It was tender, plentiful and easy to eat, with no little bones or cartilage to spoil the experience. Unfortunately, the whole effort was marred by very fat and not at all crispy skin. The more sensible members of my group left it aside, while I swallowed it and was not amused. It sounds silly, but the restaurant could have improved the dish tenfold by simply adding some salt and keeping the goose under a very high temperature for a couple of minutes longer.
Kaisermühle has a nice atmosphere, offers nice views and has an incredibly convenient location, but I cannot help thinking that the impression one ends up with greatly depends on the quality of the company visiting it. Visit it alone, and you will pay too much attention to the dishes’ obvious deficiencies and over-the-top prices. Come with a pleasant group, and you will not leave disappointed. Much.