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Seven North The kitchen philosophy of cult chef Eyal Shani

Tuesday, July 26 2022
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Monday to Thursday & Sunday: 5:00pm - midnight

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Seven North

Schottenfeldgasse 74
1070 Vienna-district 7
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Tomatoes everywhere. On the tables, at the bar, in the window niches and at the counter of the open kitchen. Next to them are lemons, figs, and beets. Garlic strands and dried herbs dangle from the ceiling, and Israeli pop songs play in the background. It almost feels as if you were on the streets of Tel Aviv, at a market, and not on the ground floor of the Max Brown Hotel in the 7th district.

Among the hustle and bustle, in soulful serenity, Eyal Shani. This Israeli-born culinary globetrotter with restaurants from Melbourne to New York is also the creative mind behind Seven North - his second restaurant in Vienna after Miznon am Stephansdom.

Shani is known for his purist (vegetable) dishes, such as whole braised cauliflower, which earned him the nickname "king of the cauliflower" in Vienna. So how do you manage to conquer the culinary world with cabbage vegetables?

At this point, it's best to tell the story with a spatula: in 2015, Eyal Shani stood in his first Viennese restaurant, the construction work was still in full swing. As always, he wanted to pay homage to local culinary traditions. In New York he played with the hamburger, in Vienna it should be - what else - the Schnitzel. But: "How can you compete with Schnitzel? I had no idea!"

Seven North von Kultkoch Eyal Shani Wien (12)
Seven North von Kultkoch Eyal Shani Wien (10)
Seven North von Kultkoch Eyal Shani Wien (1)
Seven North von Kultkoch Eyal Shani Wien (9)
Seven North von Kultkoch Eyal Shani Wien (6)
Seven North von Kultkoch Eyal Shani Wien (5)
Seven North von Kultkoch Eyal Shani Wien (11)
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Seven North von Kultkoch Eyal Shani Wien (3)
Seven North von Kultkoch Eyal Shani Wien (2)

The solution came to him as he watched the craftsmen spackling cement onto the wall. "Give me your spatula!" he asked them. Then he made a delicate cream of fried chicken, spread it on baking paper with the spatula and put the tray in the oven. Finally, he rolled the super-thin, huge "chicken schnitzel" in pita.

Eyal Shani's ideas are not created on paper but by observing, feeling, and making. He completed his training in the film industry but became a chef after a friend announced that he made "the best bouillabaisse in the world". He opened a fish restaurant in Jerusalem, closed it again to travel through Italy, and came back with new ideas. Shani finds his inspiration everywhere. You just have to go through the world with your eyes open, he says.

The dishes he serves seem simple, but Eyal Shani talks about them with so much passion that you want to try them immediately. The yoghurt carpaccio, for example, is his latest invention: chilli, flowers, radish, figs, tomatoes and oil on a wafer-thin layer of yoghurt: "It's like eating a summer garden."

Eyal Shani is a philosophical chef, perhaps also a cooking philosopher. His dishes are called "4 spicy instruments that will swirl your soul" (a mix of spicy dips) or "freehand salad of god-given sparks of creation".

For this, he chops fennel, tomatoes, peppers, cucumber and red onions, adds fresh herbs, a splash of oil and some vinegar, mixes it twice with his hands and then drapes it on the plate. So even though the cooking process is always the same, you have the chance to create something new every time, says Shani.

The dishes usually consist of only a few ingredients: Cauliflower roasted whole, braised sweet potato, and beetroot carpaccio. Everything is shared at the table, as it is customary in his native Israel. Luckily our table is so small that after a short time, it is filled to the brim with plates. Otherwise, I would probably have kept ordering.

We eat a whole fennel bulb: the outermost layer dark roasted, almost black, the inside buttery, creamy and sweet. There are spinach leaves "melting into themselves under a cloud of parmesan" and fig carpaccio with thick pieces of Gorgonzola.

Of course, we also try the spinach-filled burekas by staff member Fatis: "He got blood made out of burekas," the menu promises. Who can resist that? The sea bass comes to the table as a little firework: in a large purée that is lit - for the ultimate roasted flavours.

Dining at Seven North is an event, an experience for all the senses. It is loud, lively, and sociable. On the right edge of the kitchen counter, two guys are setting out their platters. By the time we get to dessert (feta cheesecake with tomato jam, bananas drenched in dulce de leche and two kinds of sinful chocolate bombs), the first guests start dancing.

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Seven North – The kitchen philosophy of cult chef Eyal Shani
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