Here’s how Ryan Carpenter described last evening’s restaurant in an email to me:
Punks is this tiny little place where each item on the menu is just a simply stated ingredient (“Potatoes” or “Salad” or “Trout”) and the INCREDIBLE chef creates some amazing dish to satisfy your senses. Prosecco on tap. Its just open for a few months and more people are finding out about it, so it can fill up (they don’t take reservations) so its risky, but that’s the most exciting place in town.
I met Ryan at 7.30 at the Albertgasse tram stop, and we walked just a few blocks to this little hole in the wall on Florianigasse. Maybe 30 seats at most, including the two tables on the sidewalk . . . .
The server brought out a menu written in marker on a plate:
We had arrived at Punks on offal night!
So I screwed my courage to the sticking-place, and ordered everything except the eggplant and liver (both of which I despise) and the internal organs.
Yes . . . I ate heart and horse.
And the meal — a series of small plates meant for sharing by two or more, with rarely more than three bites each — was magnificent. The horse was incredibly tasty, with bits of pickled lemon rind and more density of flavors that I can explain. The peach dish included sliced cold fresh peaches with warm sliced cherry tomatoes, some sort of sweet sauce, a few basil leaves.
The chef, Patrick Müller, is known as the Silent Chef. Apparently he had a television show where he just cooked, without speaking, and people tuned in to watch. Well I watched him in his teensy open kitchen (smaller than my own at home in Saint Louis) and he just made it all look so natural and easy. Then he dressed the plates on the counter between the kitchen and the house, and the plates got whisked to tables. When he had enough orders for more horse, that’s what he cooked. With one assistant, this like watching a master at work.
And every plate came out a work of art as well.
A gastronome’s paradise, this place. I’ve had the meal of the trip, and at €4.50 a plate, this was a relatively inexpensive meal too. The fish meal in Hydra was fab because of its ambience; this one was fab because of its ingenuity and flavors.