I have known 7 Stern Bräu for such a long time that I am surprised I never blogged about its spare ribs. I have no doubt I tried them before and more than once, but this must have been at a time when the future inventors of Instagram and WordPress were still too busy making sure their websites worked the same way in Internet Explorer 5 and Netscape 4. Since then, though fully aware of 7 Stern Bräu’s continuing existence and remembering its beer rather fondly (after all, it’s one of Vienna’s few real breweries), I have not thought of going back, for as good as its beer was, its food wasn’t. It was only this morning that googling the best ribs in Vienna I came across an article that described 7 Stern’s ribs as a “dream,” which piqued my interest and sent me back to this rather touristic restaurant with a nice inner garden.
The first bites were anything but dreamlike. The restaurant served me two enormous racks of ribs with a separate bowl of uninspiring French fries as the side dish. The racks had very different colors: while one of them was dark brown and looked well-marinated and grilled, the second one was pale and appeared more boiled than grilled. Comparing the taste did not reveal great differences, however. Both racks featured meat that had been cooked for a very long time, resulting in something with the consistency of pulled pork, but with much more fat. Somewhat disturbingly, the meat was present not only between the ribs but also spread across them, so the first step of handling the dish was to remove and eat the upper layer of meat and only then to start separating the ribs.
The marinade, if it was present, was extremely subtle, and the flavor that came out the strongest was that of black pepper. On the other hand, the two sauces tasted non-industrial, especially the spicier red honey/chili sauce. A few minutes into the dish, supported by freshly brewed beer, I started to enjoy it more than at the beginning, but that pleasure did not last long. Unfortunately, the portion was so huge that by the time I finished the first rack, the second one was completely cold, and at the same time dry and hard to chew. Although I persisted, each piece required more and more effort, and I felt I was fighting the ribs against my will or common sense.
I left the restaurant feeling almost sick, with the stomach so full I could hardly breathe. I took a long walk hoping that a liberating burp (or even a fart) will come and relieve me from all the heaviness I was experiencing, but it took hours before I was my former self again. I went to bed trying not to think about spare ribs, yet woke up at least ten times to take a sip of mineral water. If that’s what the article’s author meant as a “dream,” he is a very mean person indeed.
If you want to try 7 Stern’s beers and feel hungry, you can consider ordering half a portion of ribs or take one full portion for two persons. After my last visit, however, I would rather advise you drink your beer at 7 Stern and eat somewhere else.