Mini Restaurant, Vienna

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Within fifteen minutes of our arriving at Mini – a Hungarian restaurant situated midway between the Museum Quarter and the West Bahnhof – we understood clearly why it’s rated as one of the top three restaurants in Vienna. We’d been to a food tour in the city the previous evening and also visited five Viennese restaurants during the preceding week and every single one of them could learn so much from Mini about how to treat guests and to offer up a satisfying dining experience.

We were to be served by three waiters during the course of the evening and all of them made us feel super relaxed and excited about Hungarian cuisine. They spoke superb English and were incredibly knowledgeable about the food and wine on offer; no matter the questions – and I did have a few obscure ones about Hungarian wine – they could give a comprehensive answer.

Hungary is historically very famous for it’s photographers (such as Kertesz, Capa, Brassai and Nagy) and the artwork on the Mini walls reflects that heritage. Here are a few photos we took on arrival to give you a better idea of the interior.

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We began with cocktails, Lamia had a Pink Cadillac (vodka, vanilla, lime, cranberry juice and cherry bitters)…

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“It’s a beautiful looking drink,” she said. “Well presented with cranberry across the rim and the smell of the fresh lime garnish is so refreshing. This is a drink you could have all night on a summers afternoon; it feels very young and flighty.”

I had the Mango-Collins (bacardi oro, vanilla, mango purée, orange juice, basil and club soda)…

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It was expertly mixed; hints of basil, mango and tropical orange with a slightly thick texture and enough of a kick to let you know the alcohol was introducing itself and inviting you to relax. I felt fresh and warm after drinking it, and ready to enjoy my food.

Lamia started with the ricotta stuffed ravioli with homemade pesto, pine nuts, sundried tomatoes and Pecorino.

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“This is perfectly al dente ravioli,” said Lamia, “the pesto is fresh and creamy, the balsamic thick and sweet and I’ve had to wipe the plate clean with bread it was so good. I forgot I was in Vienna for a second as I felt transported back to Italy. it’s just one big round of single ravioli but that was good for me as I’m not a heavy eater. A great starter!”

I had the grilled goat cheese salad with pears and walnut-raisin dressing.

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This was a big portion of medium strength goat cheese piled high with lightly dressed rocket and what looks like stems of saffron and small pieces of pear. The minute after I started I regretted ordering soup as well as this because this was clearly going to be enough for me. The cheese was lightly grilled and it’s mid texture complimented the hardness of the walnuts and the softness of pears and salad.

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My second starter was cream soup of the day; green bean, peppermint and cheese toast.

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This was another very colourful and photogenic dish. I loved the light creamy taste of the green beans, the sweet balsamic glaze and the cheesy aroma that wafted up from the toast.

For wine we started with a Hungarian sauvignon blanc, as recommended by our waiter. Fruity and grassy, it wasn’t so subtle that you had to be an expert to enjoy it. As I raised the glass to mouth, the scent of sweet fruit preceded the taste, it was an easy wine to drink.

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For main Lamia had the red curry crusted salmon with coconut sautéed carrots and papadam bread.

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The presentation was excellent, reminding us somewhat of Botticelli’s ‘Venus’.

“It smells so nice,” said Lamia. “I don’t usually order fish at restaurants but the quality of cocktail inspired me to try something new here and I’m pleased I have done. It’s very creamy, a little bit spicy although nothing that most people couldn’t handle and the coconut taste blends so well with the fish and the lime I’ve just squeezed over it.”

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I had the Chicken paprikash with egg spätzle.

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I’d ordered this dish because the vegetarian main option involved goats cheese and I’d had enough of that, and also, the word spätzle sounded intriguing. I’d never heard of that before, I was curious to know what it was!

The chicken came as round fillets, served in a dish. Either side of it was the egg spätzle, which was best described as a risotto crossed with mac ‘n’ cheese topped with herbs and fresh tomato. The sauce was lightly spiced but not hot, similar to Lamia’s main. We’d begun drinking a Veresföld Chardonnay 2014 with our mains – another great recommendation from our waiter – and it’s fuller body added just the right amount of volume to the light style of the dishes.

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We had to rush off for a concert near Stephansplatz so we told our waiter that and he was very quick with bringing our desserts with no fuss, and also a final wine choice, the king of wines, a Hungarian Tokaji.  Lamia had the mascarpone cheese and almond biscuit with chocolate sauce on top.

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“Amazing taste, it’s similar to a really good tiramisu, creamy, sweet and with lots of texture and soft sweet bread. It’s a very satisfying end to a great meal. The portion size was good for me as well, I was able to finish it without struggle.”

I had the Hungarian specialty, a peanut flavoured buttermilk, orange and chocolate arrangement.

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This was the first time I’ve ever had soup for dessert. The waiter told me it was a very traditional Hungarian dessert made from buttermilk mixed with egg white and a hint of vanilla. The chocolate truffle balls on the side were strung together by pieces of peanut and the creamy soup was topped by a sprig of mint and a mini meringue. This was a dish I’d definitely recommend.

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We both agreed as we walked to our after dinner concert that we’d just experienced top quality service and amazing food inspired by Hungarian and international cuisine and an inventive and creative chef. It made us excited about our plans to visit Hungary the following week and we urge you, if you’re in Vienna and want to taste superb food paired with excellent wine, be sure to dine at least once at Mini.

To discover more about Mini, please visit http://www.minirestaurant.at/

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