Why Steirereck Is Known For Its Food Trolleys

For a city with 54 listings in the renowned Michelin Guide, it's surprising that only 12 restaurants in Vienna carry the coveted Michelin stars as of 2022 (per Michelin Guide). Nevertheless, those cloaked in fame are undoubtedly the darlings of fine dining in Austria's capital city. Each stands out for unique features, chefs, hospitality, and, above all, distinctive cuisine — but only one gets constant cred for delicious, stacked-up goodness on wheels.

Tucked into the historical district of Vienna, Steirereck spreads across the lushly landscaped Stadtpark city park, an oasis amidst the bustle of everyday life. Though the serene park setting hearkens back to the 1800s, per Visiting Vienna, chef Heinz Reitbauer's striking eatery paints the landscape with modern stokes. Michelin notes the building's chic design and clean lines, but the contemporary aesthetics harbor a secret rooftop herb garden with 120 exotic global culinary herbs, some nearly forgotten in modern cuisine, reveals Steirereck Restaurant. Ancient or elusive herbs include the fringed rue from Roman times and the crispy-leaved, acidic Alpine sorrel grown in the barren high-altitude soils of the Alps.

Surprises like that are common in the Steirereck dining experience, some sliding gracefully by on heavily laden wheeled trolleys.

Piled-high pleasure food

In an elite award-winning restaurant like Steirereck, it's a bit startling when an eye-catching four-wheeled trolley quietly makes its way from table to table, stacked with an array of fresh-baked bread loaves. And that trolley isn't alone; it's just one of several lusciously laden culinary "vehicles" blending into the dining scene. But somehow, it just feels right. The annual World's 50 Best Restaurants awards, which consistently includes Steirereck in its upper-level listing spots, calls the experience "trolley heaven" (via 50 Best). The wheeled parade keeps unfurling from national and international digestive trolleys to cheese, aperitif, and tea trolleys. Over the winter holiday season, a trolley features traditional Austrian vanillekipferl biscuits.

Birgit Reitbauer, a Gin Mare Art of Hospitality award winner who runs the restaurant with her husband, chef Heinz, tells 50 Best that the bread trolley celebrates the creativity of Austrian bakers creating both contemporary and traditional bread styles. Under the guidance of employee Andreas, the affectionately named "Bread Andi," the cart has been rolling by the elegant tables of Steirereck for at least 20 years. Birgit also tells the story behind a petit-fours trolley with bee-themed sweets. Chef Heinz cultivated the concept to support the bee population demise in Europe, even creating a beeswax char to accompany fish dishes.

Austrian at its core, the cuisine at this Michelin-starred dinner also enjoys going beyond its natural boundaries, both regionally and conceptually, according to the Steirereck Restaurant. The well-endowed culinary trolleys roll right along with that vision.