La Cantina della Cucina Alchimia: bold food in Vienna’s 13th district

La Cantina della Cucina Alchimia: bold food in Vienna’s 13th district
by Ioana Negulescu
Reading time - 3 min

This year, Vienna has been bustling with gastronomic events, new places and a vibrant food scene that has finally awakened after a few years of pandemic convalescence. Cucina Alchimia, the mysterious “Institut für experimentelle Kulinarik” was high on my list and my recent visit proved my gut feeling right.

Jakob, Sendi and Michael‘s project extends well beyond serving contemporary dishes in a rather conservative district. They see food as an art form, as a means of communication and are very centred around sustainability. They often work with artists and creators to give food another meaning and are part of art happenings such as the Vienna Design week as much as they are present in the culinary scene. In their 13th district location, they experiment with preserving techniques, aiming to reduce waste to a minimum.

Magnificent Dinner - cucina alchimia restaurant view from the table

Everything the three do is bold. I mean, opening a restaurant in the 13th, not only far from the usual hubs for going out, but also in a location surrounded by traditional places and with a countryside feel, is in itself a bold move. Then, you taste the food and the theme continues. Punchy, confident flavours - something Vienna certainly needed more of - greet you front and centre.

Their passion for reducing waste leads to intelligent dishes and a leitmotiv of fermentation. Miso butter, garum poached fish, mussel garum in a café de paris butter, fermented rice bran, lacto water, koji beets and their koji prosciutto (they didn't have it this time but I will be back to try that out) put bacteria and fungi on the stage.

As I browse through the wine menu, I see another bold move. No natural wines!? New-wave Austrian gastronomy and no Oggau or Preisinger? Interesting, I look at my glass, eager to take a sip of Sekt from Weingut Polz.

The evening unfolds beautifully and we abandon our table right by the entrance, close to the colourful inflatable lamp that I fell in love with before I stepped inside the restaurant, and move to the kitchen counter. Of course, the Noma Book of Fermentation sits on a shelf. "You know why I like this book? Because it's not random recipes with steps and ingredients. You learn techniques and can apply them however you want", says Sendi, while cutting through a koji beet for us to try.

“I love the lamps, they are so colourful”, I continue. Sendi explains that they are made by artist Ursula Klein, who experiments with inflatable plastic objects and that they had a collaboration where they made a puffer jacket from inflatable plastic, that also served as a drinks dispenser. “See this stool you’re sitting on”, looking at my friend; “we made it during an event and the reason why the seat has the burnt pattern is because I used it to cook on it”, explains Sendi.

Cucina Alchimia is more than just a dining destination. It is a vibrant hub of culinary innovation and artistic expression. Nestled in Vienna's 13th district, this restaurant challenges the conventional, fusing bold flavours with sustainable practices and a flair for the artistic. Whether you're a first-time visitor or a seasoned regular, the experience at Cucina Alchimia is a testament to the adage "those who know, know."

Magnificent Dinner - cucina alchimia table decor

Magnificent Dinner - cucina alchimia jerusalem artichoke with fermented rice bran

Jerusalem artichoke two ways with fermented rice bran (my favourite dish)

Magnificent Dinner - cucina alchimia-09

Ceviche with quince marinated in whisky and red beet

Magnificent Dinner - cucina alchimia - schwarzwurzel with cafe de paris butter and char caviar

Salsify, char caviar, Café-de-Paris butter with mussel garum


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