Tian is not your typical vegetarian dive. Greasy sweet potato fries and never-ending salad bowls are a far cry from the menu. In fact, nothing remotely resembling your previous notion of a meal is served at this three toques and Michelin-star vegetarian Vienna-based restaurant. Truly, Tian prepares edible artistic journeys. So before deciding to indulge your senses in this fine aesthetic experience, call in your reservation, button up your best blazer, cleanse your palate, and mentally prepare yourself for a revolution of your personal notion of food.
Tian serves 6-, 8-, or 10- course dinners or a “Tian Light” daily lunchtime version of a seasonally-adapting menu. The long and ever-changing list of gourmet nibbles is made on the foundation of Tian’s guiding values: cordiality, quality, respect, and love. With this framework in mind, head chef Paul Ivić is notorious for his creative passion in crafting edible artwork from fresh, regional, and organic ingredients. Each meal can be tastefully paired with wine that has been expertly selected by the 2016 Sommelier of the year, Matthias Pitra.
You may be wondering how you can possibly finish 10 courses of gourmet excellence. Most of the courses are nearly bite-sized so overfilling is not necessarily an issue. However, 3 hours of pure afferent awareness can be an endurance workout in sensory attention so please pace yourself. Tian’s intelligent design prevents sensational burnout by regularly refilling your taste-cleansing agents: warm breads, pita crisps, fresh butter, sea salt, and a selection of rich olive oils. Moreover, mid-way through the savory courses, as the attentive waiters see that you’re struggling to discriminate between your coriander-seasoned vegetables, they bring you a bite of cool elderflower ice cream and remind you to breathe.
Although each of the flavor combinations in the rotating seasonal dishes are exquisite (think tardivo hazelnut Jerusalem artichokes or cherry rose beetroot soup), the true payoff is making it to dessert. If your tastebuds are still functioning, you will be floored by the unique divinity of the aesthetically-pleasing sweets. Who would have ever thought to deliciously lace shallots into an apple caramel tarte tatin? Or to beautifully braise tomatoes with chocolate in a berry trail platter? None other than pâtissier of the year Thomas Scheiblhofer, who has crafted the dessert menu with loving attention.
Finally, the meal is finished with chocolate cigars and perhaps just a final sip of dessert wine. If you reach the finish line of a meal at Tian, your perspective on food will inevitably be permanently shifted. Tian metamorphs the mundane act of eating into an achievement of sensational artistry. It transforms mealtime into a journey of perception and a truly unparalleled feat in gastronomic indulgence.
About the author: Lacey Gibson is a global health researcher, a food writer, and a Vinyasa yoga teacher. She recently graduated with a Masters of Science in Global Health Population from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Here, she also served as a Food Literacy Project Fellow, coordinating community events to inspire education of the food system. Prior to her Masters, she graduated in 2015 with a BA/BS in French and Physiology from Southern Illinois University, where she also competed as an NCAA DI track/cross country runner. Throughout her career, Lacey’s work has been published in academic journals, such as the Journal of Wine Research and the International Journal of Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities. She is also a regular contributor to writings for a wider wellness-interested audience, such as UNDO Ordinary, I Am Woman Project, and Skin In The Game. For a full taste of her writing style, keep up with her here.