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Jul 11, 2008 06:04 PM

Budapest, Prague, Vienna Recs?

Hello there,

Am a NY chower who is going to be on a jaunt through Central Europe next month with my boyfriend. We will be spending 4 days in each of the above cities and 2 nights outside Vienna in Baden.

Was hoping you all might have a few recommendations...

For each city would like one serious foodie gourmet meal that is indisputably one of the very best the city has to offer. Would also like one more traditional restaurant for each city (if these two criteria overlap and a traditional spot happens to be one of the very best, then that's great too. Other than that, would love any other recommendations you might have for casual to mid-level lunches and dinners. We enjoy spending money on food, but the dollar being what it is, would prefer to stick to one seriously expensive meal in each city, and keep the others slightly more reasonable.

We are staying at the Le Meridien in Budapest; Hotel Josef in Prague; and the Levante Parliament in Vienna.

A few places I've read about and am curious for more info on:
In Vienna: Do& Co, Imperial, Coburg, Mraz& Sohn, Osterreciher im MAK, and the dining room.
In Prague: La Degustation,allegra,La Lavande.
In Budapest: kasca,baraka, gundel, rivalda.

Thank you all so much!!

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  1. Having been to all 3 cities in the last couple of years I will give you some of my thoughts. Prague has an unfortunate dichotomy. The really good restaurants are very expensive (not worth the price) and the rest are mostly very inexpensive but not great. Since I was there, a few new places have opened, including Gordon Ramsay and La Degustation, which sound promising. We ate at Flambee and Bellevue, both of which were good but way overpriced. We liked one moderately priced place, Vinárna U Maltézských rytíru (At Knights of Malta),which had a nice atmosphere and some very good game dishes. For a cheap place with tasty food, try U Cizku on Charles Square. Nothing mind-blowing, but good roast meats and soups. In Vienna, Coburg was recommended to us, but unfortunately was fully booked. We really liked Plachutta Wollzeile for tafelspitz. Budapest has a lot of great food, much better than the other two. Gundel is an unforgettable experience, not to be missed. The food is not the best you will ever have, but it is good enough that along with the spectacular decor, formal service, strolling violinists, and just over-the-top old-world elegance, it is not to be missed. We had a very nice lunch at Rivalda, but I would also strongly recommend Cafe Pierrot, moderately priced but with an extensive menu of really great food, cozy, elegant atmosphere, attentive service, live piano music, a place I would love to go back to. Aranyszarvas was also excellent, though the atmosphere is a bit somber. They serve a huge selection of game dishes at sensible prices. If you have not been to central Europe before, I think you will find Hungarian food to be a very pleasant surprise, much lighter than you might have thought.

    1. I'll second the rec for Cafe Pierrot in Budapest. We ate our best meal of a similar trip at this lovely place. Detail: There are apparently two rooms in the restaurant. The first room is the smoking room and the back room is the non-smoking room. We learned this only after we asked where everyone was going when other patrons would arrive and, then, disappear. We are not smokers, but we were not asked our preference when we arrived. Happily, no one in the smoking room was smoking the night we dined at Pierrot.

      We made the decision to eat well but to skip the highest end places like Gundel (Budapest) or Bellevue (Prague). We experienced very hot weather during our trip, and we simply weren't in the mood for wearing our Gundel-appropriate clothes or for sitting that many hours for a single meal.

      If you're looking for a lighter, more modern style of cooking and want to spend no more than 120 E (excluding wine but including mineral water), I suggest you look at...
      Ella's in Vienna
      Cafe Rivalda in Budapest
      Cafe Pierrot in Budapest

      We found no equivalent restaurant in Prague and turned to international cuisine (Belgian, French, and Italian) when we visited there.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Indy 67

        We just got back from Prague and Budapest and I can make some fine recommendations:

        In Prague: Mlynec great location and food is good - but put that into perspective because the food in Prague is nothing to write home about. The best restaurant we ate at was Aromi - you take the metro to get there and the metro system is safe and very efficient - this was great italian food - but for Prague you want to seek out food that is not necessarily Czech. Another restaurant which would require the Metro is Mozaika which is Czech and the food was quite good. These were all recs by a friend who is a chef in Prague.
        In Budapest - Cafe Rivalda was really good and a beautiful ambiance. In addition Margikert was very good with great entertainment by a group of classical musicians.

      2. Vienna:
        Do&Co: Food is forgettable, just the view is spectacular. Maybe you just get a drink at the bar...

        Imperial: Classic Viennese and International food, nothing inventive. Also: the ambiente is worth visiting, but not the food !

        Coburg: Nice view when sitting on the terrace, exceptional and very inventive food. Get a reservation in time ?? Very expensive, but worth every cent (I will dine there next Tuesday !).

        Mraz und Sohn: a small bistro type restaurant in the middle of nowhere. Food is very spectacular, although sometimes more for the eye than for the mouth. I like it.

        Österreicher im MAK: Definitely recommended, nice location and nice Viennese classics. Get a reservation for a table in the courtyard.

        And now my recommendations:

        Inventive food:
        Zum Finsteren Stern 2 im Schulhof. This small place has kept its spectacular quality and is popular among Viennese and visitors. Expecially nice if you can sit outdoors in the wonderful plaza.

        Other small and inventive places (and PLEASE forget Ella´s):
        Flein, Kutschker44, Gaumenspiel, Komarek

        And now for the Viennese classics:
        Plachutta is OK; a little bit overpriced and underserviced...
        In the summertime I have two favorites:
        Eckel in Sievering and Pfarrwirt in Heiligenstadt.
        Both have wonderful gardens to sit in and serve excellent classic Viennese cuisine.

        For Viennese classics in the city:
        Immervoll, Beim Czaak, Huth, Pfudl, Zu den drei Hacken, etc...
        I prefer Immervoll, but it is "always full" as the name implies, so get a reservation...

        5 Replies
        1. re: Sturmi

          Why the hostility to Ella's? We -- two couples -- had a lovely meal there. Excellent service and superbly executed food that emphasized season flavors. What experience did you have that makes you warn folks away?

          1. re: Indy 67


            Lary Fary- Dlouha 30 Praha 1- 420-222-320-154- This place is part of the Kolkovna restaurant group and is on par with anything similiar in any big U.S. city. Good food, great service and beautiful decor. Bill was $88.00 USD.

            Aromi- Manesova 78 Praha 2- 420-222-713-222- Great Italian restaurant. Food was great, staff was great and the deocr is great. Interesting tableside presentation of all of fish specials of the day. Fried scmorza cheese with proscuitto and pumpkin ravioli with clams were memorable. Cappuccino creme brule with cantucci cookies was pure heaven. Take the green metro line to the Jiriho z Podebrad stop. As an added bonus the Prague tv tower is in the same area which we went up for some beautiful views. Tower open until 11pm. Lost receipt but I remember Aromi was a good value.

            Bellevue- Smetanovo nabr. 18 Praha 1- This was our upscale special meal. Reserve in advance and make sure you get a table by the window for bridge and castle views. Food was really good but the views and romance even better. Bill was $218.00 USD. Service was not added into the bill.

            U Medvidku- Na Perstyne 7 Praha 1- 420-224-211-916- This was our beer hall meal and we loved it. We had gone to a different place at first but the place was packed with about 100 chain smoking men. A little too much for us. U Medvidku was perfect for us. Great unhealthy food and beer. What's better than that? Bill was $33.00 USD.


            Cyrano Etterem- Kristof ter. 7-8- Cool, big city type place. Food was pretty good. Varied menu also offering Hungarian style food. It is right off the popular shopping strret Vaci utca. Bill was $73.00 USD.

            Spoon Cafe- Vigado ter. 3- 36-1-411-0933- Great place. It is on a permanently docked boat on the Danube River facing the Royal Palace. Reserve in advance for a window table for awesome views. The food is great. Varied menu also offering some Hungarian style foods. I had orange roughy and my wife had filet mignon and a lobster tail. Both dishes were excellent. Our favorite thing was an appetizer of boiled beef bruscetta with brie cheese. Excellent. We had a great Hungarian wine as we did throughout our Budapest jaunt but of course all names were not remembered. Bill was $116.00 USD.

            Kisbuda Gyongye- Kenyeres utca. 34- 36-1-368-6402- Great neighborhood place on the Buda side a bit off the beaten path. We took a cab there and they called one for us for the trip back. Food was great. I had Veal Remiz with potoato croquettes that was excellent. She had Chicken Paprika that was excellent as well. The sauce was so darn good. We tried a goose liver platter. We'll pass next time. They have an old man playing piano in the middle of the room. A really great night. Bill was $104.00 USD.

            Belcanto- Dalszinhaz utca. 8- We went here after the opera on a Saturday night. They have live music along with some opera singers. The waiters also sing opera. Food was good but coupled with the entertainment made it better. Bill was $118.00 USD.

            Central Market Hall- Fovam ter.- Great place for your souviniers but even better for great unhealthy food. Meats and produce galore. The second floor has the food court with all sorts of goodies. Tried the highly "chowhound" recommended langos. They brush cream on it and then sprinkle it with grated cheese. AWESOME! Go there with an empty stomach.

            Hope this helps. Enjoy. We had a great time.

            1. re: Indy 67

              1. Ella´s is a "mediterrean soulfood" restaurant. Nice option if you live in Vienna, not so interesting for visitors.

              2. We have been there several times: when having lunch outdoors on a sunny day, you can get a heat stroke from the temperature. OTOH when dining inside, it gets so loud you cannot hear your neighbors voice.

              3. Food is OK: Nothing special. Last week we went there had the 4 course menu: three kinds of octopus at starters were great, the fish course was a minuscule deep fried eel, tasted nice. The main course were nondescriptive lamp chops. Have had better. Dessert was chocolat mousse. Solala.

              Maybe I could like it if I just go for a small lunch, starters only, on a rainy day ??

              1. re: Sturmi

                We share some opinions -- diverge on others.

                Agree that eating outdoors on a hot, sunny day at Ella's would be a torturous experiece. We walked through Judenplatz the afternoon of the evening we were to dine there, and the angle of the sun shining on their self-labeled "garden area" wiped out any benefit from the awning. By the time the sun set, the outdoor tables had become a lovely space. For many folks who dislike smoke, outdoor seating is always an advantage over enclosed indoor space if a restaurant doesn't have non-smoking rooms.

                I know you're well respected on this board as an expert on Vienna. However, I don't know your age and, I suspect, age differences lead me to a different conclusion about Ella's food being uninteresting for visitors. Many of us in the senior citizen category cannot eat meal after meal of Viennese classics. The light, clean flavors of "Mediterranean soulfood" are appealing after a sampling of tafelspitz and schnitzel. At Ella's, my tubot was fresh and cooked perfectly. Ditto for my husband's sole and prawn dish.

                As for your interest in a small lunch of starters only, I'll pass along the experience of one of our dinner companions. He made an entire meal of starters. For the first course, he ate steak tartare and for the second course, he ate a specially-prepared, double-size portion of the bouillabaisse.

                1. re: Indy 67

                  Be assured, I am also in the 50+ generation ! And of course I like light and clean Mediterrean flavors, too. I have been four times to Ella´s since they opened, and they have found now some line for their food, that is true. OTOH if someone is just a few days in Vienna and wants to sample something typical for the culinary scene of this city, I would still rather go to other places (and I would also suggest NOT to go to Fabios, Novelli, Riegi, Do&Co etc., etc.) ...

                  For "light and clean flavors", I rather go to Zum Finsteren Stern, Flein, Gaumenspiel, Kutschker 44 etc...

                  And since these are places which are not so easy to find, but on the other hand a quite moderately priced, I try to stress these places over more easily found ones.

          2. When in Baden, drop by Backhaus Annamuehle for Kaffee und Kuchen. The owner and myself used to work together on a luxury cruise ship (though some time ago). He was heading the pastry and bakery department On Crystal Cruises.

            In his main store you can sit in a nice courtyard and relax from all the travels for a while.


            1. Try the Gösser Bierklinik for Tafelspitz in Vienna. The wife and I ate there and had Tafelspitz - a favorite of Emporer Fraz- Josef and we loved it. We have been eating it for years now.

              I give it two big thumbs up. Here's the web page.


              And I have a question. How come there is no Board for Germany/Austria?
              We just get dumped into International with Yemen and Croatia and Sweden. Don't seem right.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Will5352

                GENAU! How is THAT possible? Austria has so many places it needs it's own board!