Worth the Wait?

Location:Lugeck – Figlmüller Wien
Address:Lugeck 4, 1010 Wien
Status:Open (last checked on 13 December 2023)
Eaten:"Österreichische Weidegans," three beers (Lugeck Spezial, Birra Nazionale, Horny Betty)

Not many restaurants in Vienna can boast of people queuing outside of them, Figlmüller’s restaurants being notable exceptions, undoubtedly because of their “best schnitzel in Vienna” reputation. Lugeck, which is part of Figlmüller family, is actually not promoting its schnitzels that much, yet on both Saturday and Monday the queues outside the door were long enough to discourage me straight away. Today (Wednesday), there was no visible queue at Lugeck’s doors, so I decided to try my luck. After all, finding a Martinigansl in the middle of December was quite a miracle by itself.

The queue was inside. The host, after confirming the availability of goose, told me that it could take up to half an hour to get a table for me. It was, I must say, a totally new experience. I don’t remember ever waiting for a table (probably because of my laziness), but as I said, anyone aiming to eat a goose in mid-December must be ready to take sacrifices.

After about 20 minutes, I was invited to a tiny table on the restaurant’s first floor, tightly squeezed between two other tables, but at least offering an acceptable view over the street below. It took me a while to adjust to the chair, however, which – due to some mad design decision –only had one arm. At that point I was not at all convinced it had been wise to go to Lugeck, but a closer look at the beer list improved my mood substantially: not only did it contain a few strong Belgian-like sorts, but it also included a couple of beers I had never tried before. The evening was saved.

The goose took a while to arrive (I was in the middle of my second beer), which I took as a good sign. The very first forkful of the red cabbage, however, was beyond disappointing. The taste was disgusting, and it took me a while to figure out that the unpleasant flavor came from the combination of cabbage and chestnuts. Put into the same bowl, they must have triggered a chemical reaction or something. With the chestnuts gone, the cabbage became more “normal,” though still unremarkable.

The cabbage’s blandness was more than compensated by the goose, however. Taste-wise, it was the best one I had this year. The meat was somewhat tough and dry, but these are the qualities one expects from a goose. The toughness requited a bit of a fight with a knife and a fork, but that fight was a pleasant one, never turning into an annoyance. The dryness was effectively resolved by the sauce, which must have been specially prepared to perfectly match the goose. I was also very impressed by how thoroughly salted the meat was. Very often geese are salty on the outside but really bland deeper in, but Lugeck’s Gansl had the same level of saltiness down to its bones.

The dumplings were boring, though that had been expected, and the sauce helped me finishing them. More surprising was the absence of berries and orange. Not that I am too fond of berries, but for a 37-euro goose, that looked like a serious omission.

So was Lugeck’s Martinigansl worth the wait? Yes, definitely, but mainly thanks to the cook’s expertise in dealing with goose meat and a good selection of beers. I did not enjoy the restaurant’s noisy and privacy-less atmosphere, and the side dishes were substandard. Yet, today’s visit was a good way to end my 2023’s goose-eating season on a high note.

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