Chef-owner Heinz Reitbauer is a member of the Reitbauer family that operates the famous Steirereck restaurant and the Meierei café beneath it in Vienna, and the Pogush Country Inn in Styria, in the southeast of Austria.
His family’s latest contribution to the Austrian culinary excellence is the complete and spectacular renovation of Steirereck that consistently places among the top of the world’s 50 best restaurants list.
In 2005, the Reitbauers moved Steirereck from its home of 35 years in Weißgerbe Lände to Vienna, and took up the former Milchhauspavilion, an Art Nouveau or Jugendstil dairy that overlooks the lush Stadtpark and its Wienfluss promenade. They renovated the building completely prior to opening to the public.
In 2012, the owners announced an open competition to, once again, completely re-imagine the storied restaurant to meet the needs of the ever-demanding, world-travelled, upscale restaurant clientele, and to respond to the demands of a busy kitchen as well.
Viennese architecture firm PPAG architects won the competition with its innovative solution that began the development of the new restaurant environment not from a space that will contain tables, but from an individual table and its connection to its surroundings.
In the new pavilion, formed of long, molecular fingers, each table is flanked by its individual wooden background wall and located against an outer wall. This gives every table the feeling of being private but also connected to the park outside and the rest of the dining area and kitchen inside.
This rearrangement of functions and addition of space did not increase the number of seats – it remained at about 80 – but the main dining hall of the old dairy building with its newly flexible configuration of tables and partitioning now provides additional event space, and all of the inner functions of the restaurant, from food preparation and patisserie to washing, test kitchen and staff areas have been improved and expanded as well.
Wood, glass and reflective metal are the main visual elements of the new Steirereck that now nearly conceals the Milchhauspavilion yet appears to take up very little additional space. – Tuija Seipell.