The new Israeli restaurant that has recently landed itself at the end of this sentence on many lips: ”Have you heard of that cool new place behind Stephansdom …“
Smack bang in the center of good ol’ Vienna, where the well-behaved Austrian tradition is kept at its finest, horses draw carriages, and change comes as rarely as one of those horses breaking loose, people gawk into the windows filled with tomatoes, broccoli and cabbages, onto the unfamiliar, lively scenes happening in the Miznon vitrine. And cauliflowers are not the only thing being served up, explains Yuval.
“Miznon doesn’t serve food, we serve energy! Our atmosphere and our meals are here to spread happy vibes. Everyone is welcome to come and use our place to escape from their daily routine, clear their heads, forget the rules.”
It feels like we are in the midst of a roaring Israeli marketplace in what used to be the old Dom Beisl. It’s like the chefs are having their own party in the open kitchen that meets with the bar, and the guests become part of it as soon as they walk into the bustling atmosphere, are greeted like an old friend by one of the waiters, and have no choice but to … just go with it.
And while Miznon buzzes like a bazaar, the concept has been carefully crafted by the Israeli star chef, Eyal Shani.
Eyal is a food philosopher. He believes that everything is unique, and has its own personality. This includes every single piece of raw produce he selects, that he sets out to understand, before its recreated into Miznon’s dishes.
Eyal applies the same respect for individuality to his team of cooks – instead of being given strict recipes, cooks are given loosely sketched recipes that they’re left to interpret on their own. The idea is that unique things happen between the raw ingredients and each individual cook. Upon tasting the food, all overflowing with the rich Israeli talent for sauces and spices, you’ll understand all of this philosophising.
Served up in a no-fuss, street food, wipe-your-chin-with-your-fellow-diner’s-scarf, kind of way, the menu is simple and made to be eaten with your hands. Most of it will turn up on your table heaped on paper and once you’re digging into it, with one foot pawing at the floor like a bull winding up to charge, you’ll understand the paper’s there to catch the mess.
We love how the parade of passing eyes go pop when caught lingering on the charred spiced cauliflower and broccoli sitting unassuming in front of us, and such dishes here strangely make this oriental restaurant’s vegetarian street cred respectable. The balance of sweetness and smoke, softness and crunch of these two bulbous veggies make us forget all the trauma that we attached to them when our mother’s force fed them to us when young.
From the tasty tahini to be scooped up with flat bread, to the variety of filled pita breads – succulent lamb ribs, steak, ratatouille – to the favourites inspired by the street food found in the Israeli and Arab world, like Malfouf (stuffed cabbage rolls), the food is alive with flavour.
The atmosphere is charged for a party any night of the week, with the music loud and the wine drank out of tumbler glasses, well-suited for the ecosystem of fun, yelling, eating, and hugging happening at Miznon.
Wowing the city with something different and exotic is certainly part of the Miznon master plan, but this cannot be easy in a city that steps into change like it’s cold water. However, having already conquered Paris, the Miznon family knew they’d be faced with the challenge of opening the local culture to what Miznon is all about.
That faith in the mighty cauliflower, and the Miznon concept growing in Vienna seems to have been well placed, as since its opening a few months ago, the restaurant has been packed most nights. So a seat on a spontaneous visit is not guaranteed, but joining the crowd at the bar is almost an essential Miznon experience, anyway.
There’s only two things guaranteed in this beautiful chaotic, bustling mess of Miznon where anything goes: your clothes won’t be left untouched by the infamous Israeli sauces, and you certainly will escape your everyday existence.