But in my defense, there were many good reasons for this. For one, even though Wolfgang Puck’s been around forever, we had yet to find an elevated Austrian restaurant in Southern California. Secondly, the Cute Gardener has a palate thing for Patina trained chefs and we heard that Bernhard Mairinger was one of the hyper-masterful alumni of that chef’s club so we wanted to get a glimpse of his particular style of Austrian. And finally, it’s hard to deny the opportunity to try fried, battered pork and plump white links simmered in milk straight from a true son of the country himself.
And it was great! So great in fact, that we broke our “we never visit a restaurant twice” rule for our traditionally ironic non-American food Fourth of July anti-holiday feast after taking a glimpse at all the new items now offered on the menu.
Only this time, we eschewed the dining room to sit at the bar where we had a personal view of Chef Mairinger and his team as they uber-calm and meticulously delivered us plate after plate of exquisite tastes without one single flaw in execution.
The thing about Mairinger is that he articulates the flavors and customs of Austrian cuisine but in a voice that is truly his own. It’s one thing for a master chef to have reign over a restaurant like Patina whose only caveat is to make tantalizing and delicious food from a cornucopia of ingredients and options and do it ideally and well every single time. (And yes, I realize this is a huge thing to accomplish for any chef.) But to have a chef boldly create from one specific region and genre based on classics that are age old with a historically defined legacy and completely elevate each dish to a fresh frontier of upper echelon in both taste and presentation is pretty courageous.
Fork tender beef and two ways swimming in a savory gravy with
grilled artichoke and a sturdy bread pudding.
Our pre-scouting of the menu created an “eyes bigger than our stomach” ordering strategy. Bread basket with spreads, two appetizers, a wiener mid-course and three entrees later, Mairinger opened his mouth to tell us that he was completely impressed with our consumption and sent over a fine nightcap of plum liqueur to send us off.
My second favorite dish of the night after the chicken liver, this pork belly
came topped with crunchy fried onions, swimming in a warm bowl of
spinach infused spaetzle and quail eggs. You mix the whole lot together
and have a cream-laden version of ham and eggs married to macaroni
and cheese. I told the Chef I could eat this every day for breakfast and
he said that although it would indeed be a good start to the
day, I might have to go back to bed after.
The food coma on the couch later was entirely worth it and I have decided that Bier Beisl is indeed my favorite restaurant of 2013.