In early August, Michelle and I met up with a couple of friends at a wonderful restaurant in San Diego, Calif., called 100 Wines. Only on that night, a better name would have been 99 Wines, because the one wine on the list that we wanted — the one wine on the list that would have made for an absolutely fabulous evening — was not available.
In case you missed it, you can read about that experience here.
Well, our faith in mankind was renewed several weeks later when we decided to dine at a restaurant called Austria Hof in Mammoth Lakes, Calif.
We went there for one reason: to see how close we could come to reliving one of the most memorable meals of our lives, which we shared in Vienna, Austria in the fall of 2014. That meal is chronicled here. It consisted of a giant wiener schnitzel, a big scoop of potatoes, and glasses of Gruner Veltliner wine to wash it all down.
We’d come close at the aforementioned restaurant in San Diego, only to learn that the Gruner Veltliner on the wine list — the very same label we’d had in Vienna — was out of stock.
We had gone to that restaurant in San Diego with no expectations other than having a fun evening with friends, and we definitely had that, along with an excellent meal. This time, our expectations centered on a single dish: wiener schnitzel. We’d done our research, and we knew it was on the menu, along with a handful of other German/Austrian specialties and several American dishes.
At Austria Hof, if you order wiener schnitzel, you’ll get, as the menu describes it, a breaded and sautéed pork cutlet, served with choice of mashed potatoes or spaetzle and red cabbage.”
Then we read on: “Provimi veal, add $5.”
There was no question: We would be upgrading to veal.
I didn’t even ask for the wine list. I simply asked our server, “Do you have Gruner Veltliner?”
“I’m 99 percent sure we do,” he answered. “It may not be the one on the list, but let me check.”
He checked. It was not the one on the list. But we didn’t care. It was Gruner Veltliner, and it was the type of wine we wanted to have with wiener schnitzel.
The reason that pairing works so well has to do with the acid level of the wine. Gruner Veltliner’s bright acidity helps mitigate the fatty quality of fried food, and even though Austria Hof’s wiener schnitzel could hardly be called “greasy,” it certainly possessed some fat. Flavorful fat. Good fat (not from the perspective of a heart surgeon, but in terms of satisfying one’s taste buds).
Michelle and I split an order of schnitzel and, as you can see, there was plenty for both of us.
Figuring it would be at least a year before we could return to Austria Hof, we decided to take a dessert to go. Several hours later, as well as the next morning, the apple strudel did not disappoint.
Now, I know what you’re wondering: How did the meal at Austria Hof compare to the meal in Vienna?
Honestly, it’s not a fair comparison. In Vienna, we were on our pre-wedding honeymoon, so I don’t think there’s any way the best meal of that trip — which that meal was — will ever be topped.
But if you ever find yourself traveling along Highway 395 in the Eastern Sierras — a main north-south connector between Southern California and Reno — we’d highly recommend this restaurant. We saw lots of people eating lots of different dishes, and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves.
By the way, Austria Hof also is a lodge, so if you reserve a room along with a table at the restaurant, you could consider sharing a second bottle of wine.
You can check out the menu and find a link to the lodge here: http://austriahofrestaurant.com.
And to the folks at 100 Wines in San Diego: All is forgiven.