Need Advice re: Vienna
My husband and I will be in Vienna for four nights beginning May 11th. I am thinking of going to Figlmuller and Zum Weissen Rauchfangkehrer. I was also thinking of either Do & Co, Meinl or Le Ciel for the other two nights but Do & Co, Meinl and Zum Weissen don't have their menus online and I have no idea what they serve or prices. Also, my husband hates little portions. Any opinions on those restaurants or any other suggestions would be appreciated. We don't want to eat heavy food every night and want to mix it up with casual restaurants and more formal restaurants plus we don't want every restaurant to be expensive. Thanks.
Do&Co: Dont go for the food, which is plain international standards (lobster and steak, bouillabaisse, sushi, döner kebap and some Viennese standards such as Wiener schnitzel at quite large servings), but for the location, which is a spectacular view over St.Stephens cathedral. And be prepared for outrageous prices. Still, we always go there with guests from the US, it is simply an experience. Dress code is business casual.
Meinl: Probably the best place in town, but very small, so you have to book RIGHT NOW a table. The food is eclective new Austrian, the servings are rather small, the best bet is the degustation menu. Definitively recommended, especially also for the location. Dress code is more formal, but ties are not required.
Zum weissen Rauchfangkehrer is something special: It is a very old place, recently renovated, and serves classic Viennese cuisine at quite extraordinary high prices. Service and location are good, so you might enjoy it. Dress code is business casual.
BTW: These three places are quite expensive, and only Meinl deserves really the price range it charges. For excellent formal dining (tie and jacket recommended) I also recommend Palais Coburg and Le Ciel. Both are hotel restaurants, but really are worth the money they ask for. And Walter Bauer, a very small but excellent restaurant serving inventive versions of Austrian cuisine. Definitely an alternative to Do&Co or Weisser Rauchfangkehrer !!
For casual dining in the city I always prefer Finsterer Stern 2 on the wonderful old city location "Schulhof". Around the corner is a new medierrean place calles Ella´s (a pun on Hellas, since the owners are Greek), it has had a stormy start last year, when it opened and was instantly overrun, but service and food have now stabilized, and the place is not so full as it used to be. Another tip for casual dining is Wein&Co, a wine merchant who offers also great food and wine by the glass as well as purchase of a bottle in the shop and immediate consummation at a small "corking charge". Very busy place, but worth a try, especially for lunch. We also like to lunch at Immervoll (= "always full"), which is always crowded as the name promises and serves Viennese classics at bargain prices. There you get large servings and a quite efficient service at well. They have a nice outdoor setup in Franziskanerplatz, a great place to spend you time. And the same is true for other casual city places like Huth, Beim Czaak or Figlmüller.
And for excellent Italian food: avoid Fabios or Novelli, go straight to the source: The Cantinetta Antinori serves excellent Tuscan food and wine and has a nice outdoor dining area just across from the main gate of St.Stephens.
Vienna is such a food city, strong in traditional and seasonal (compared to fashionable) cuisine: the so-called Wiener Küche. Its food occupies a notable literature. In English if you are interested, be sure to look at Wechsberg's very classic _Blue Trout and Black Truffles_ (ISBN 0897331346 in paper) or for a longtime popular basic cookbook, go to the expat Gretel Beer, titles _Austrian Cooking_ and _Classic Austrian Cooking._ (There are other classics from Vienna itself, and newer ones from the accomplished restaurant families, but Beer's is an international favorite -- she was decorated in Vienna a few years back for spreading the word.)
It's hard to know where to begin to recommend. (And who knows how many places have online information! Famously compared to some of its neighbors, Austria was slow enough to change that even credit cards were iffy as recently as 10-15 years ago.)
A casual strength is snacks such as interesting sandwiches, normally open-faced and offered with local wines. The central (1st) district has famous sandwich venues including the must-visit hole-in-the-wall frequented by Kafka as a student and everyone else since: Trzésniewski's (link below and pronunciation joke). Little savory open sandwiches you can consume by the dozen (or for dessert if somewhere left you hungry). It's prudent to carry their order forms when traveling through Vienna, for a quick take-out "fix." Try the "Pfefferoni" version (ground green pepperoncini). A short walk away the Gosser Bierklinik (part of a brewery) can give hot open sandwiches by the square meter, agreeable with fresh beer. More elegantly, around the corner from there the Schwarzen Kameel (est. 1618) is a wine bar with attached restaurant but creative sandwich-type morsels on display. For a small glass of your favorite wine (such as the white Grüner Veltliner, whose slight pepperiness accents small sandwiches) ask for an "eighth;" for a mug portion, a "quarter."
A distinctive casual genre are the hundreds of Heuriger, the family-run wine taverns, not central but outside the city core ("take a streetcar in any direction"). They are a local ritual and many operate year-round.
Figlmuller has long hired annoying tourist touts to press leaflets in pedestrians' hands near the Stephensplatz. Finally trying one of their schnitzels led to heavy digestion (you can do better elsewhere, many places - beware of restaurants that advertise). The white chimney sweep (Weissen Rauchfangkehrer): haven't gone since renovation, but it has long been bustling and casual and traditionalistic.
Immervoll opened a few years ago, modern layout, popular with a young creative crowd, had good classics there lunch and dinner. A few other favorites scattered around the town center: Entler; Fratelli; Bohème; Café Diglas (casual coffee house with many robust moderately-priced specialties where you'll certainly see foreign tourists anxious for their bill, a veteran server assuring them "immediately!" -- sofort! -- then proceeding at leisure). 12-Apostelkeller is a popular underground wine cellar with snacks and hearty food, frequented by tourists and locals, one of the better known of several. (Does the Gulaschmuseum still operate? Besides excellent name -- rivaling "Bierklinik" -- and wide range of Gulasches, it has been a chance for visitors to try horse Gulasch, should they really want to.)
If you seek elegant modern Viennse high cuisine, look for the current generation of veteran chefs there such as Reinhard Gerer, Lisl Wagner-Bacher, etc.
Link to the little sandwich temple:
(First figure: "Trsn ... Tschsn ... Tznrn ...Trzésniewski!" Second figure: "Gesundheit.")
Sturmi especially -- it appears that you are in, or near, Vienna -- or if anyone else knows about this. Advice welcome:
For years, Trzésniewski's Buffet had a neighboring close competitor in the savory-sandwich specialty, called Pic-Pic (proprietor I think was Simon Wittels). Disappeared some time around 1990. Can you recommend any other Vienna restaurants today that specialize in interesting sandwiches? (I mentioned a couple of them in earlier posting above, but I have seen more interesting open-face sandwiches in Vienna over the years than in 50 other dining cities combined.)
Also, an ambitious, impressive restaurant slightly up the hill (7th district), called Bauch von Wien if I remember, with three separate floors in different formats, operated in the 1990s but went out of business. Proprietor Georg Sinzinger I think. After it closed I heard that he stayed in the restaurant business but in another location. Do you know anything about that? And how is Immervoll these days?
Interesting sandwiches can be found at:
1. Zum Schwarzen Kameel: http://www.kameel.at/
The have a great tradition of small sandwiches, very much like Pic Pic had, but different.
2. Van Veinsten:
A sandwich bar specializing in tramezzini italian style. Located on Franziskanerplatz, right around the corner from Immervoll.
3. We have had great sandwiches also from Wrenkh
( http://www.kochsalon.at/wien/wien.html ), but AFAIK they make these only on order for catering, you cannot go there just for a bite. But they have wonderful tasty vegetarian spreads on slices of dark bread.
Immervoll is unchanged. Great food, great service, low prices.
I cannot find any new info on Georg Sinzinger.
Ah yes: the Gulaschmuseum ist still alive. Great goulash of any kind.
Danke, sehr freundlich! I know Schwarzen Kameel, it is a regular stop -- had good experiences there and very fine snacks. Rather cosmopolitan place..
In the US we have ice-cream shops that claim to offer many flavors. Both independent ones, and a national chain famous for "31 flavors." The Gulaschmuseum was a very pleasant parallel: many flavors of Gulasch!