Hotel Sacher is on every single list of places in Vienna you absolutely must visit and I just do not get it. Someone must be getting paid off here. I will say that the hotel is a fine and venerable old hotel and it retains its grand splendor. It is also home to the renowned Sacher torte so there is that. But as we entered the restaurant, called the Green Bar, I was hesitant. It is beautiful and there are obviously people who will find this sort of place to their liking. But for me, yikes. I knew instantly I was out of my element.
I should have run out screaming when:
A.) I saw the battalion of liveried footmen ponying up to do my bidding.
B.) I realized the 75 pound menu (I got a freaking hernia lifting it) had about 5 items on it. Five items (OK, let’s say 7) with elaborate descriptions. There were only 2 choices for a main course. Flank steak and eggplant.
C.) The waiter began to explain (read aloud) the entire menu. It was like listening to someone, and not the most dynamic person you know, read a copy-heavy PowerPoint slide that’s up on the screen when in fact you’ve read it yourself in 3.8 seconds while he’s droning on about marigold petals and sous-fucking-vide when all you want is for him to pour the wine…which in fact he has not even opened yet (and then as you will come to find out later he has to freaking decant it and let it breathe—really? Why? I was hyperventilating sufficiently for the both of us, me and the wine.)
D.) I was served “crispy mackerel skin” as an amuse bouche. The mind reels. I was relatively certain that it would not kill me so I was determined to eat it and I did, but it nearly killed me. There really is no polite way to grimace and shriek “What in God’s name is in my mouth?!!” under your breath. I cannot imagine who likes this sort of thing and why.
E.) They brought out my appetizer. Oh my god. It turns out that the Jerusalem artichoke, as it was listed on the menu, was merely a paste bed for the salsify root cooked sous-vide. Salsify root? Are you fucking kidding me?!! On the side was a “pepper leaf” ice cream quenelle that was actually ice cream. Like sweet ice cream. AND GODDAM MARIGOLD PETALS!!!!! Oh please can we get more precious?
As it turned out, yes, we could get more precious. My main course, sous-vide flank steak, whatever, was served with a “potato horn.” Filled with mashed potato. The 2 small pieces of sous-vide flank steak were sprinkled with some sort of La-Dee-Da dehydrated onion flakes. the potato horn was good enough but the onion flakes, well, Durkee onion flakes are just as la-dee-da and more importantly are better in sour cream as a dip for chips. The meat was OK, all that sous-viding and such, but all I tasted was dehydrated onion.
Eventually, and by eventually I mean later that decade, the Sacher torte was served, I didn’t order any, you know, not being a dessert person, but I did taste it and gimme a Duncan Hines boxed cake any day of the week. Dry as a bone. I do not get it. Any of it. And I have people who can back me up on this description.
But when I really should have run out was F.) When I got the check. Not screaming though. Quiet as a mouse. Very sous-vide and all.