Revisiting the Bad

Location:Selbstverständlich Strandbeisl
Address:An der unteren Alten Donau 159, 1220 Wien
Status:Open (last checked on 9 May 2023)
Eaten:"BBQ spare ribs low & slow mit Sesam," small mixed salad, two beers (Starobrno, Dunkles)

For years, the name „Selbstverständlich Strandbeisl“ has been a synonym of „bad“ for me. From the worst coffee in the world that I had experienced there some 20 years ago to the few weeks of lunches with my colleagues during which we struggled to find a single dish possessing a remotely acceptable taste, Selbstverständlich did nothing but disappoint. In the past few years, I stopped there for an occasional beer or wine but was never brave enough to order food – until today, when I saw spare ribs on the menu and decided to give them a chance, if only to slam them on this website later on. The experience left me confused, but not unhappy.

The ribs were listed in the menu as “BBQ low and slow,” and they felt like having been cooked for a very long time. The meat was easy to chew and even easier to remove from the bones. Holding the ribs by the hand was almost pointless, since the meat tended to fall off the bones all by itself. This was fine for me, since I prefer to use knife and fork anyway, but if you like your ribs to offer some resistance, keep in mind that you are not going to find any here.

The marinade was OK – tasty enough to prove that some effort went into it, but just barely. There were three sauces, however, which is quite a rarity these days. I dare say, all three were custom made, though the red one tasted a lot like the popular “Asian hot sauce,” while the garlic sauce cannot be too special by definition. The orange mango dip was quite original, on the other hand, and it was nice and unusual to have some sauce left after I had finished the spare ribs. In most cases, one need to be careful and ration sauce; Selbstverständlich was generous enough to provide plenty of it.

The restaurant offers spare ribs in two sizes (one rack or two racks), with the difference in price being just five euros. While it makes no sense financially to go for the smaller version, make sure you are hungry enough if you order the bigger one. I was not, and suffered a rather annoying night of heavy stomach, dry mouth and garlicky aftertaste. Also be aware that you are going to get a huge kitchen knife that is more appropriate to mass killing than spare ribs cutting, so use it responsibly.

I do not think that today’s visit has significantly changed my opinion on Selbstverständlich, but I guess I will not anymore be so vehemently un-recommending it to those who ask.

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