… Cream colored ponies and crisp apple strudels
Doorbells and sleigh bells and schnitzel with noodles
Wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings
These are a few of my favorite things.
Did Oscar Hammerstein and Richard Rodgers think schnitzel and noodles belonged together? Or did it just work out better in the phrasing? In any case, when in Austria, it is not noodles but potato or cucumber salad served with Schnitzel. And if you have a craving for it, you won’t find a better version of traditional Austrian Schnitzel than at Vienna restaurant Skopik and Lohn. On a recent visit, I headed over to talk with co-owners Chef Horst Scheuer and wife Connie about food, their restaurant, and Austrian cuisine.
Skopik and Lohn opened in 2006, but not where it was originally planned. But for a twist of fate, it might now be located on Orchard Street in New York. But as often happens in the volatile New York restaurant scene, the “money” backed out at the last minute. On re-evaluation, the best location for the project turned out to be 4,226 miles east, at Leopoldsgasse 17, Vienna.
Taking over the space of a former Gasthaus called Platzwirt, Skopik and Lohn opened in the Karmeliterviertel district, the old Jewish quarter of pre-war Vienna. The neighborhood has seen steady gentrification in recent years with a younger generation taking over and occupying the old infrastructure. It’s a diverse, dynamic neighborhood, quite mad at times but built on a solid traditional foundation. Now if you walk along Leopoldstrasse, which runs throughout the district center, you will find all manner of innovative new ventures with restaurants a-plenty to choose from. You could say the same of New York’s Lower East Side. So it is natural that Skopik and Lohn would have landed here.
Skopik and Lohn’s decor does not stray too far from the traditional Gasthaus style. In fact, it is in large part unchanged from its previous owner, much like the best Gastropubs in London, where old venues are bought and restored by a new generation of chefs, bringing a modern twist to old establishments. However, there is one decorative element unique to Skopik and Lohn. It’s quite simple, but a stroke of genius, and boldly stakes the new owners claim to the space. With his characteristic low key style, Horst asked Artist Otto Zitko to “have a go” at the ceiling. This takes doodling to a whole new level.