The State of Strandcafé

Address:Florian-Berndl-Gasse 20, 1220 Wien
Status:Open (last checked on 11 May 2023)
Eaten:"Die besten Ripperl vom Schwein aus Österreich" (small portion), three beers (Dunkles)

As the place where I tried my very first spare ribs back in 1991, Strandcafé will always occupy a soft spot in my heart (or should I say stomach?). I understand its suffering – closing for renovation and expansion, then closing quickly because of an annoying neighbor, then investing a fortune into state-of-the-art technology just to close for more than a year again because the neighbor found a better lawyer… and then the COVID came. All that must have forced the owner to raise the prices sky-high just to recover the expenses and make a bit of money before the next legal or health disaster hits.

Still… When the waiter (whom I have known for ages) told me “50 euros, 50 cents,” and I replied “55,” I instinctively handed him a 50-euro bill, causing a lot of confusion. I suppose a part of my brain still cannot accept that one can charge 38 euros for a part of a pig that most farmers used to discard in the past. The pricing strategy of the restaurant has changed, too – now the once standard two-racks version of the dish is marketed as “spare ribs for two,” while a single rack still costs whooping 29 euros. In 1991, one could get two racks for 130 schillings, that is less than 10 euros, and that was not considered cheap.

But let’s switch to the taste. The dips, which have always been Strandcafé’s main differentiation point, continue to be fantastic, no questions there. The spare ribs, now produced on the grill that has no equivalent in the whole world taste like… no other spare ribs in the world. They are good – perfectly spiced and sticking to the bone like truly grilled and not pre-boiled ribs should, but they have a very weird, almost artificial flavor. I was hard-pressed to discover a single piece that tasted similar to the ribs that Strandcafé had used to cook in the nineties. The ribs were perfect, but artificially perfect.

I suppose that at last the cooks must have figured out all the right settings on the super-grill. Unlike last year (and the year before), the ribs tasted consistent. Very expensive, true, but not unenjoyable at any rate.

What annoyed me though was that the pork skewer – by far a better dish than the spare ribs and served with the same dips – has disappeared from the menu. For me this means that I will not be visiting Strandcafé much more often than once per year. But if anything changes one year from now – either to the better or to the worse – I will let you know on this site, of course.

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