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My Site: Day 55: Austria

My Site


Day 55: Austria

Mr. Meatball and I return to Venice, California, the area we left just thirteen hours earlier after a tremendous home cooked Bahraini meal. This time, our food hunt finds leads us to 3 Square Café + Bakery, and right after sitting down, I realize that I’ve made a huge mistake. It turns out that just about all of their exciting Austrian food is on the dinner menu and the only thing that fits the bill, even though it’s much more typically German, is the weisswurst and pretzel. Unfortunately, I’ll have to take the hit on this one and own up to my mistake. I ask our server if there is any way we could order off of the dinner menu and he dismisses us coldly and unsympathetically. Granted, I totally understand that it is probably a policy and he isn’t about to go back there and bug the chefs to make me spätzle or schnitzel, but if I were to rate our server on a scale from “1” to “Douchebag”, he would definitely rate as a solid “Douchebag”. It isn’t anything particular that he’s saying or doing. It’s just that general aura of douchebaggery which only a true douchebag can exude. And in case I haven’t used the word douchebag enough, let me just say that when I asked Mr. Meatball if he thought our server was kind of a douchebag, he said “Oh yeah. Big douchebag.” So don’t just take my word for it. But hey. Maybe the guy was just having a bad day.

I order the weisswurst and pretzel, which is already set up for disappointment as it can’t possibly compare to the version I had at Super Host Max’s house, but I’m still expecting a good meal from such a highly trafficked and very well regarded café. Mr. Meatball, also disappointed by the food options, goes with the pretzel burger. His pretzel burger arrives and he describes it pretty simply. “It has all the trappings of a good burger, but the medium rare is really more medium than I’d like.” That’s why whenever I order a burger at a place with good quality meat, I order it rare. An overcooked fancy burger is, in my opinion, a waste of time and I have no problem with a ball of beef tartar in the middle of my patty. My food is, for the most part, perfectly adequate. But it’s also pretty boring. The sausage itself is fine, but I much prefer it slowly simmered rather than grilled. They gave me the same caramelized onions on the side that are on Mr. Meatball’s burger and they really don’t go very well with the sausage. The potatoes are crispy and good but the poached eggs, while cooked properly, seem like they were prepared a little too far in advance and have developed a rubbery skin. The pretzel is tasty, though. The conversation turns to whether or not we can even count this as Austrian food, but decide that both of these items are probably eaten somewhere in Austria, even if they don’t typify the country’s cuisine.

I finish about half of my food, which is the first time on the Personal Food Project in Blog Form that I ordered only one dish and then didn’t even finish it. The only thing left to think about is the tip. We got relatively bad service, but it feels like it came from a feeling of “Well, these guys don’t seem like they’re going to tip very well. They’re just drinking water, they only ordered one thing each and they don’t look rich.” Now, when that happens, my brain goes two ways. Do I punish the server for assuming I wouldn’t tip well on a small meal (in fact, I usually over-tip in those scenarios)? But if I tip below fifteen percent will it just vindicate his self fulfilling prophecy? “See? I knew they would tip like crap.” Or do I over-tip and hope the server thinks “Wow. I was wrong about those guys. I shouldn’t judge people so quickly.” On the other hand, it could just make them think “Hey, they really liked my service!”, thus encouraging the continuation of his douchebaggery. While I roll these scenarios over in my head, like I always do, Mr. Meatball steps in with a little common sense. “Just tip fifteen percent.” Yeah. I guess I could do that. Whatever. What country is tomorrow again?

3 Square Café + Bakery
1121 Abbot Kinney Blvd
Venice, CA 90291
(310) 399-6504

Food Breakdown: 2 entrées
Price: $28
Distance From My House: 5.3 miles



  1. Bosque · Oct 30, 06:07 PM

    i’m not gonna lie. that first burger pic looks AWESOME.

  2. Abba · Oct 30, 06:44 PM

    Yes, the burger does look fantastic. 3 Square always had Schnitzel on their lunch menu, I’m surprised they took it off. Tossers.

  3. Steph Gross · Oct 30, 11:12 PM

    Yes, it’s Steph Gross. I’ll be home in a little under a month, and reading your blog every day is making a month seem like a very, very long time. Can I please please please join you for a meal over Thanksgiving weekend? I’m buyin’!

  4. (folk hero) Jason Bernstein · Oct 31, 12:28 AM

    Through a curious twist of fate (i.e. my mother suggests it) I actually serendipitously ate at this place for dinner on the same night as the Bite-Worlders. I asked the waiter his recommendation for food there. He said the burger is what most people order so I followed suit but at least asked how the spaetzle was (which was infinitely more Viennese than anything that was apparently on the lunch menu). Said waiter said it was fine. Insofar as that isn’t a resounding endorsement, I stuck with the burger and ordered it rare.

    However something REALLY remarkable happened this meal . . .

    They have a wine list, but no beer list. I asked what beers they had and the waiter actually replied, “oh – a bunch of esoteric stuff you probably haven’t heard of.” I said, “try me.”

    His response, as verbatim as I can recall. “Umm, there are a couple of light ones, there’s some kind of amber and there’s a dark one, Celebrator, I think.”

    It took all my powers not to say, “sounds like a bunch of esoteric beers that you haven’t heard of.”

    Regardless, the Celebrator, in all its malty goodness was a pretty neat match for a perfectly cooked (albeit undersalted) burger with good meat. I’m sorry that the MBW burger didn’t fare as well.

  5. Noah · Oct 31, 09:40 AM

    Oh, Bernstein. I really wish you had said what you wanted to.

  6. Mr. Meatballs · Oct 31, 10:32 AM

    The burger looks remarkable, but tasted several steps below that. As our resident folk hero pointed out, it was mostly due to the lack of salt in the meat. I really hope the chef didn’t assume that the salted pretzel bun would provide enough salt, because that would have just been criminal.

    I was really excited about having some good schnitzel or chicken and spaetzel for lunch, but Mr. Douchebag wouldn’t even consider for a second helping us out. And my fries were cold.

  7. "Danielle" · Oct 31, 01:23 PM

    3 Square took my favorite sandwich (one of my top 5 in all of LA) off the menu and now I usually get the weisswurst if I’m there for brunch. I haven’t had weisswurst slowl simmered, but I do like how grilling gives the casing a little bit of a snap. But really, I think the best thing there is the bread/pastry basket with housemade raspberry jam and Plugra!

  8. Noah · Oct 31, 01:25 PM

    I was taught by my German guest to remove the skins of the weisswurst before eating them, which made the sausage pretty freaking awesome, I must say.

  9. Bosque · Oct 31, 01:51 PM

    i think for halloween someone should egg the 3 square waitstaff.

    j/k. bff. kit!