An easy fix for a voracious après-ski appetite in Vienna is Centimeter, a restaurant known for its monstrous portions, relatively low prices and its measuring tape shaped menu featuring several Viennese dishes made well. Browsing through the list of specialties I came across items, including a 2-meter sausage, a row of 12 grilled and schnitzel-led meats spiked onto a sword, a buffet of house favorites served in a wheelbarrow and a ridiculous thing called “One Meter of Austria,” which offers a sampling of several Austrian dishes in a very long sharing plate. There was also a wonderful looking pan of dumplings and bacon that reminded me of my beloved Hungarian nokedli (dumpling) dish made with smoked bacon and ewe’s mild curd that my mother calls strapacka. When asked if a dish will be enough or too much for two people to share, the waiter looked us up and down before responding that it depended on the size of those people and how much food would fit inside of them. It’s not uncommon and, actually, expected of you to ask for foil in which to take leftovers home.
We visited Centimeter VII (a.k.a. Centimeter Währing), but there are also several other locations of this restaurant in Vienna and they all have the same menu. After perusing the selection, we each chose our poison and ordered a haus bier (large) to pair. In this case that best bite happened to be my own dish, the hearty and wonderful Blunzngröstl.
Their Schnitzel of turkey is pretty rad too though, huge for the price, and correctly made. The white meat is consistently juicy and moist and the thin breaded crust has a fantastic sandy texture with no excess grease to worry about whatsoever. I particularly enjoyed the edges, where most of the golden brown crust collected. The very feint fried flavor was nicely counterbalanced with the acidity of fresh lemon squeezed over. It was enough to share between two average-sized individuals but way too much for someone to eat in one sitting.
My bro and the bae shared a large portion of spare ribs, 3 monstrous racks slathered in tomato sauce, piled high with onions and served on a bed of crispy panfried potatoes. It was good, a tad dry maybe and served with strange white, yellow and red sauces that I couldn’t identify as the classic sauces served with BBQ. It’s also not exactly Viennese at all. But boys will be boys and sometimes boys need spare ribs. And for 15 euros for a large, this is definitely a meat bargain.
That best bite… That Blunzngröstl, one of my favorite Austrian dishes. It’s made with mushy bits of blood sausage (freed from the tube), sautéed in a pan until it heats through and develops a crispy char, and mixed with panfried potatoes and onions. Garnishing this hearty dish is a pile of crunchy sauerkraut and shaved horseradish (which I confused for grated cheese – don’t make the same mistake, trust me it was painful…) It’s simple and deeply comforting, like a warm embrace. The potatoes are cut into irregular shapes to maximize the number of edges that get delightfully crunchy when they are fried and maintain that crunch even as they are smothered by the moist, steamy pudding of blood sausage. Some bits of pork also crisp up against the pan, resulting in a caramelized crust too heavenly to describe. This is definitely not the light Mediterranean fare I’m used to, it’s that sinful, sensual stuff to pack meat on the bones, to rejuvenate the body after exercise and cold.