From the ‘Pfanne’

Exploring “Mother’s Cake” The Traditional Austrian Way

After just one glance at the menu outside the entrance of Palatschinkenpfandl; The Crêpe Pan, we decided that this was the place to satisfy our rumbling stomachs.

As we walked through the double doors, a mouth-watering aroma of home-cooked food wafted over us, evoking memories of childhood at grandma’s house. An image of little jam- smeared cheeks, noses and fingers, leaving a sticky trace on everything they came into contact with. I smiled, and hoped it was about to be as good as it was in my memory.

A friendly waiter with dreadlocks greeted us, and I could not help thinking him a bit out of place. This restaurant is about as far away from dreadlocks as Goldilocks is to drugs. What catches your eye is just how Old- Viennese this place actually is: with booths made of lacquered birch benches, chairs and tables. The walls are white, with forest green curtains around the ornamental ironwork-clad windows. Further in, past the bar, another room opens, making the restaurant astonishingly big. Here, the walls are covered with mirrors that give the optical illusion of even more space.

When we finally settled for a corner table, with two bench spaces and two chairs, we hungrily asked for the menus. Reading through the descriptions of the various crêpes, waiting was becoming more and more painful by the minute. Here, Palatschinken are served as both main dishes and dessert; with cheese(s), vegetables, ham, meat, different sauces and various combinations that involve seasonal ingredients as well. Furthermore, you can create your own dish, choosing from 29 different crêpes up to three varieties, giving you a chance to try more than one flavor.

A Palatschinke, has its origins in the early Roman word placenta, their label for cake. Even though placenta now is understood as what the embryo lives in, one of the German words for it is Mutterkuchen, “Mother’s Cake”. Further along history, these European pancakes have become traditional throughout Central Europe- in Transylvania, Hungary (palacsinta), Slovenia, the former Czechoslovakia and Germany, until they reached Austria. Their name Palatschinke underwent different permutations of the words placenta and palacsinta, depending on where and when it was consumed, until it adopted its current label.

I chose a mix-n-match trio consisting of Gouda and ham, vegetables of the season (broccoli, carrots and string beans) with cheese, covered in a beige creamy sauce, and, a spinach-mushroom dream, covered in cheese. My parents and my brother ordered the Gouda and ham as well, but then diverted into their own reveries that entailed veggies with tomato sauce for mom, more spinach and ham for my dad, and minced meat with mushrooms and cream for my brother, among other ingredients and toppings.

We also ordered a pan of Eier Nockerl, little miss-shapen dumpling-style nuggets , mixed with egg, to share, which were not half as greasy as we expected, and delicious. My parents had a beer with their crepes, my brother went for an Austrian Radler, half lemon soda and half beer, and I had mineral water- all of which go well with crêpe.

By the end of this, we were stuffed. The food was very rich, but not in an obnoxious way, more positively satisfying. I could hardly breathe, and cursed myself a little for ordering so much, especially when I also wanted dessert. It actually seemed quite a waste, not ordering dessert, as the Palatschinkenpfandl has the reputation of making Vienna’s best Kaiserschmarren, offering the dessert in more than six different ways.

Unable to resist, my dad had the traditional Kaiserschmarren with raisins and Powidl (plum) sauce, my brother had Oma’s Milchrahmschmarren with rum and cream in the dough, and I had the Alt- Wiener Schmarren, with vanilla in the dough and vanilla sauce. My mom had two Palatschinken with Marillen (apricots) and Marillen- jam. I then had a vanilla milkshake, wanting to stick to the vanilla- theme with my Schmarren, and my parents and brother had a glass of white wine, which complemented their choices superbly.

The waiter was very impressed with our appetites, especially since when taking our order, he somewhat bluntly told us “You will never be able to finish all of the food, your eyes are bigger than your stomach”… showed him, ha? Even if I was not able to finish my dessert because I was really full, his eyes were like tennis balls, such his bogglement. We requested to doggy- bag it, because it seemed a waste to just leave it there; I could eat it the next day or so, you never know.

Feeling as round as eggs, we all sat deep in our seats and patted our stomachs, half regretting having eaten so much. But just half regretting- it had been too delicious to have sent back anything.

When we received the bill, we were happy to find it was very reasonably priced for the quantity and quality of the meal: €9,50 for each of the trios, and €6,50 for a small portion of Kaiserschmarren.

Palatschinkenpfandl is a place that we will definitely overeat at again, as it has totally won us over with the simplicity yet goodness of its food, its comfortably homey atmosphere, and the fact that it is in the heart of Vienna. A perfect spot for the times when one just cannot ignore the craving for a hearty and delicious meal á la Wienerisch.

 

PalatschinkenPfandl

Köllnerhofgasse/Grashofgasse 4

1010 Vienna

Opening hrs: 10.00- 24.00

Tel: (01)513.82.18

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