Yesterday was a beautiful day.
A very important aspect of my life in the past couple of months has definitely been meeting Miška and Robo and joining forces to start throwing natural wine tasting parties in Bratislava under the name 'Humbuk'. I've already written on here about how the idea to put the events together came about and I'll be writing about our next event end of this month soon, but that's not important at the moment. Even if for whatever reason this whole concept burns up in flames - which I am hoping and do not believe it will - I am so grateful to have met these two. They're the type of people you just feel you were meant to meet and who I could easily spend time with every single day. We share a love for having things neat and organized, for natural wine, great food and little bullshit.
Amongst the other talents that she possesses, Miš is a wicked photographer. We had a really wonderful conversation on our day trip to Vienna yesterday to the sparkling wine fair B.O.U.M. - more on that soon too - about the line between too much photo taking where it sacrifices the actual experience versus too little. I am very much the type of person who likes to take photos because when I come back to them as I often do, the photos bring out details and visuals in my memory that I otherwise would have forgotten. Alas, I'm not much of a photographer, so it has been fantastic to have someone by my side that so often captures exactly what I would have wanted to in a way that makes me feel all the things I feel. Symbiosis. All photos in this article are taken by her and I love them - absolutely capture the atmosphere of yesterday - dreamy, sunny and full of wine.
But on to the good stuff!! MAST in Vienna was opened a couple weeks ago by two passionate sommeliers - Matthias Pitra and Steve Breitzke, with the kitchen led by acclaimed chef Martin Schmid. I was first there before the place was officially opened - and by accident really - when I noticed a poster for a Weinskandal event on the Rennersistas' Instagram account and decided to go. The event was incredible as it was a chance to personally meet so many winemakers whose wines I love including Tom Lubbe of Matassa, Craig from Testalonga, Comando G, Claus Presisinger, the Rennersistas themselves! Yess yess. But a story for another time. I came back for dinner and drinks two weeks later and decided to take Miška there for lunch yesterday. I'll be back to celebrate my birthday there end of this month hopefully (whoops, need to reserve a table, reminder to self). Why?
Because the place is fantastic.
Simple as that, no need for fancy flowery language and never ending run on sentences. It just is.
Let's start with the food. Serving a selection of dishes that fits onto a simple A4 piece of paper, you have a highly curated choice of small plates, main dishes and desserts that you can all easily combine and share. The food is incredibly well priced for the high quality and what I love about it is that even though all dishes seem like straightforward simple combinations there is a definite thought process and memento to local cuisine or tradition in each. Structured simplicity. AND THAT PULLED PORK SANDWICH THO. Yes please. They started serving a lunch menu this week as well which I think is a great move. Yumm yumm yumm.
Another aspect is the service itself. It is very obvious that Matthias and Steve are both absolute professionals in the way they serve the tables and their demeanor - you always have water (and wine) on the table, it's always clean, everything is swift and prompt. Yet the atmosphere is simultaneously one that is completely relaxed and warm. I really am not a fan of places that have this pretentious air to them and where I feel like I can't laugh too loudly or the staff makes me feel like I am stupid or unaware. This is not one of those places. Matthias and Steve make you feel welcomed, comfortable and like you can (and should) come back at any time. Plus, their wine recommendations were always completely spot on and my loud laughter didn't seem to be a problem.
Also... THE WINE LIST. A materialization of a definite love for natural wines, the wine list is extensive and oriented predominantly towards local grape varieties and styles of wine which I think is a really refreshing form of presentation as opposed to a classic by region focus. At the end of the day, a consumer generally has a particular style or grape variety in mind anyways as opposed to a region. This makes it a lot easier to find what you're looking for. On top of that, they have a lot of magnums of the list that are priced the same as normal bottles. You are reading correctly and no it's not a joke. Another testament to the fact that these guys are serious about what they're doing in their love for the craft and want to stimulate people's interest in wines they love. Very smart move in my opinion.
Add to that impeccable simple decor, beautiful plates and plating, a relatively central location and you've got yourself a dream wine bistro.
For me, MAST is what real hospitality is about and you can really feel it in every aspect of the place. A must for anyone visiting Vienna that loves good food, a great glass of wine and wants to feel inspired and well taken care of yet as if they were eating at home. The only thing bad about the place is that it's not located in the city where I live but I'll forgive you guys for that. Can't wait to go back already.