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Feb 15, 2011 10:09 AM

Help Please Sturmi

Could you please recommend some small, romantic Austrian restaurants in Vienna for an anniversary dinner---innere Stadt would be nice but not mandatory. I am a native German speaker so don't need an English menu.

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  1. What price range would you consider ??

    If you want to splurge, a dinner at Walter Bauer might be the right thing. This is a small restaurant hidden in the oldest part of town, with great, very helpful service and really excellent food, but expensive...

    There are other choices available:
    For a really romantic and traditional Viennese dinner within a moderate price range you could go to one of the traditional, more upscale beisl restaurants, such as Ofenloch or Weibels Wirtshaus. They have a nice traditional athmosphere and provide excellent classic Viennese food.

    A kind of its own is Zum Finsteren Stern. The ambiente is quite simple, but the location and the food are superb...

    There are also a few places with high-end Italian cuisine worth mentioning, such as the Cantinetta Antinori or Procacchi, or high-end Mediterrean at Ellas. All these have excellent food and service but are not as small and romantic...

    It is easier outside the Innere Stadt: we like very much the Kutschker44, the Gaumenspiel, the Baritalia Lounge (downstairs) and Mraz&Sohn.

    You can get more contact details for all of these at

    14 Replies
    1. re: Sturmi

      Many thanks for your thorough response---any thoughts on "Der Kuckuck?"

      1. re: mausi7

        Der Kuckuck: Old-fashioned Viennese cuisine in an old-fashioned setup, popular with tourists. And: it is a non-smoking restaurant !!

        The Falstaff gourmet guide (the Austrian version of Zagat) gives Kuckuck 78 points, which is just below average. The Austrian edition of Gault Millau has it no more listed.

        If you want this kind of restaurant, you might like it !

        P.S.: Here is the current listing of Gault Millau for the restaurants in Innere Stadt:

        1. re: Sturmi

          Once again, thank you. I have narrowed it down to Riegi, and Bauer.
          Vielen dank,

          1. re: mausi7

            Please give us a short report about your evening !!

            1. re: Sturmi

              The thread title "Help please Sturmi" makes me so happy. I feel like we need special spotlight to shine at the sky when we need Sturmi's advice.

              1. re: kukubura

                What a lovely way to put it. She has been wonderful!

                Just an aside: When i was a child, I learned a song which became my favorite about the kukubara "up in a tree"---I haven't thought about that in years--so thanks for that too.

                1. re: mausi7

                  Thank you for the flowers !!

                  And for the big laugh my wife and me had about the assumption that Sturmi is a "she"...


                  1. re: Sturmi

                    OK, I am appropriately embarrassed and apologetic. I should have known better even though I am "Mausi" and female---but Teutonics have the "i" ending for everyone. The flowers remain.

                    1. re: mausi7

                      Sturmi, Sturmi, nur du allein...

                      Maybe when any of us arrives in Vienna we should send actual flowers to Sturmi...!

                      1. re: gutsofsteel

                        Thanks to all of you!
                        So, now I have another question about good Czech food in Prague...near town center.

      2. re: Sturmi

        Sturmi- I have read on Google Maps that two places you recommend are closed: Zum Finsteren Stern and Feles - zur schwarzen Katze. Do you know if this is true?

        1. re: sarahellis

          No, this is not true.
          Zum Finsteren Stern and Zur Schwarzen Katze are just relocated.

          Zum Finsteren Stern used to be a wine bar on 1., Sterngasse, and this is the location Google will report closed, which is true. But the restaurant opened by the owner of the wine bar (which in its beginning was called "Zum Finsteren Stern 2") is still at its primary location on 1., Schulhof. And since there is no more a wine bar of this name, the name of the restaurant is now "Zum Finsteren Stern", dropping the number 2.

          Zur Schwarzen Katze has been moving twice. It opneed first on Hernalser Hauptstrasse, then moved to Kreuzgasse and has reopened last year on 18., Bischof Faberplatz.

          And yes, both of these restaurants offer a very inventive, creative new cuisine, the one in "Zur Schwarzen Katze" being a little bit more traditionally Viennese, and the "Zum Finsteren Stern" having the more picturesque location. We are regulars at both places and can recommend them.

          1. re: Sturmi

            thank you for all the awesome info. re. my other post/inquiry, falter says they are both non-smoking restaurants. can this be true? :)

            1. re: sarahellis

              Yes, this is true.

              But please be aware that smoking is possible in the outdoor dining areas, which OTOH will close down when the weather gets colder with the next weeks. So when you come at the end of October the restaurants will be smoke free...

      3. Hey Sturmi, any good lunch spots near Meidling Bahnhof? We arrive on a Saturday at 8:30am and have a few hours to kill before our 12:30 train to Prague. Something nearby that would be a lovely, inexpensive Viennese lunch to kick off the trip. A quick google found Gasthaus Meixner and Chaplin Cafe but I don't know anything about them. Thanks!

        7 Replies
        1. re: kukubura

          Would love to hear about some restaurants in Prague after you have indulged.

          1. re: mausi7

            Oh you will... Oh you will...

            *rubs hands together maniacally*

            1. re: kukubura

              Hi Kukubura & Sturmi,
              We will be making same trip in June to Vienna & Prague. Finally decided on Walter Bauer for our anniversary dinner...and have made reservations at Zum Finstern Stern and Kutschker 44. They must have thought we were similarly maniacal when they received reservations 3 months in advance. I do have one reservation--totally cancellable-- at U Modre Kachnicky in Prague. Enjoy!

          2. re: kukubura

            Neither do I know about interesting places around Bahnhof Meidling. The places you mention are nothing of interest. This is a dead corner, no question. And most places will be empty on Saturday morning anyway

            I would take a taxi and drive to Naschmarkt for a late breakfast at Cafe Drechsler or some mezze at Tewa. Saturday traffic is quite low in Vienna, and you will be within 10 minutes at Naschmarkt and back in the same time.

            Congratulations. You made the right choices...

            1. re: Sturmi

              Hmm that might work... Naschmarkt is on the shortlist for the 2 days we'll be back in Vienna at the end of our trip though Any other hidden gems in that general direction that we might go to instead?

              Mausi: Our one reservation in Prague right now is the chefs table at La Degustation. Pretty excited to try a modern take on czech cuisine with molecular gastronomy influences... We made the reservation towards the end of the Prague component of our trip so that we could put it in context after more traditional fare.

              1. re: kukubura

                The problem is the timing. Saturday morning is great for any one of the markets, or any one of the Kaffeehäuser right in the city centre.

                If you want a real dow-to-the-earth market in combination with a few nice trendy restaurants/cafes you might try the Brunnenmarkt in Ottakring. We like to go there to La Salvia, which is a delicatessen - better "alimentari" - spezialising in Northern Italian cuisine from Friuli. They also serve nice espresso, antipasta, pasta and dolci. Very popular on saturdays.

                And there is also Kent for Turkish cuisine, and An-Do for seafood and Wetter for excellent mediterrean cuisine...

                1. re: Sturmi

                  Sturmi, first of all, thanks so much for all the info reg. Vienna. Have read many of your posts and now, when coming to Vienna for the first time upcoming weeekend, I'm sure I'll get the most out of this trip. Managed to get a table at Rudy's Biesl on friday 11th and I can't ge wait to get there. Tafelsptiz for me and Zwiebelrostbraten for my daughter. Cafe Sperl and Gmoakeller will probably be visited as well.

                  If ever coming to Stockholm, Sweden, I'll be happy to give advice reg. where to go for great meals etc.

                  Best wishes,

          3. Sturmi (and other Viennese CHers): Did you know that Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations just did an episode in your magnificent city? It airs on the Travel Channel here but I wouldn't be surprised if it aired on Discovery or something there. If nothing else, it will be on YouTube eventually. He seemed uncommonly charmed by Vienna. Granted, his show is mostly schtick with a lot of corny one-liners and a shoehorned agenda (and some of the most shockingly inarticulate descriptions of food on TV - "Oh this is good... I'm a happy man... Porky goodness!")

            But, still, he seemed to "get it." He visited the Naschmarkt of course, a beisl, a heuriger, a wurstl stand, the Sacher Hotel (against his wishes, supposedly) a Christmas Market at Schonbrunn, and a snout-to-tail restaurant out in the country somewhere, plus a trip out to hunting country. Plus a ride on the Riesenrad and a trip through the sewers a la The Third Man. I'll see if I can get the names of the specific places later.

            11 Replies
            1. re: kukubura

              Yes, here in Vienna we have heard about Anthony´s trip to Vienna. He was hard to miss...
              I really hope it will be aired soon on Discovery Channel !!

              1. re: Sturmi

                It will air again on March 28th at 8:00p.m. east coast time, on Travel Channel

                1. re: mausi7

                  I was appalled at his behavior and narrative. We now need a professional to do the show---interested Sturmi?

                  1. re: mausi7

                    That's his schtick. Every show is like that. The Vienna one was better than most, I thought.

                    1. re: kukubura

                      The european weather is being grand for you I see----I am still researching Prague restaurants---was La Degustation worthy of a visit?

                      1. re: mausi7

                        La Degustation was really a huge experience. The weather and allt he experiences and foods have been amazing. Unfortunately an ankle-twist on a particularly bumpy Krakow street has laid us up most of today. Hopefully not for long...

                        1. re: kukubura

                          Sorry to hear about ankle: rest and ice every 4 - 8 hours to reduce swelling.
                          We loved Krakow---and the people were lovely.

                          1. re: mausi7

                            forgot---only apply ice for 20 minutes at a time

                            1. re: mausi7

                              Thanks Mausi. We've been doing that. It looks a little better today so we're moving ahead -- slowly -- with our plans. But we might have to make frequent rest stops at cafes and bars. How horrible! ;)

                              1. re: kukubura

                                We're going to Weiniger in 6 weeks. I would love to see some of those recipes...any knoedl ones?

                                Anxiously awaiting report ---I actually have 2 or 3 days without reservations!

                                1. re: mausi7

                                  Wieninger is one of my favorite places on Earth (as you well know.) It's in the rarefied company of Preservation Hall in New Orleans and Paesano's sandwich shop in Philadelphia as a place that I would teleport to this instant if I could.

                                  As for the trip report... I'm working on it! It's gonna be a doozy. I'll also link to my wife's blog and photos etc...

            2. This is my first post on the chowhound board, so if I'm doing it wrong by "hi-jacking" this thread for my own purposes, I apologize. Still, since invoking Sturmi seems to be the thing to do when you're going to Vienna, I figured the thread title would end up much the same. ;-)

              In short, we're a group of six going to Vienna early June. We're going to stay at a hotel in Mariahilf (Hotel Anatol, I believe) for an extended weekend. I might think of myself as something of a foodie, but I don't think the group as a whole does. We all just like to eat well. Overall, we're looking for good atmosphere and good food. The group is unfortunately a bit like a herd of cats, so I'm afraid I'd have a rebelllion on my hands if I went ahead and filled up the calendar with reservations to restaurants I'd like to visit.

              So it's a two part question:

              a) Is it naive hoping to get a table for six at any good beisl without reservations?

              b) What places can you recommend in the Mariahilf vicinity? Splurging on very high-end restaurants is out, and we are naturally mostly looking to eat the local cuisine, but otherwise we're open to suggestions.

              24 Replies
              1. re: Dr_Avalanche

                Allow me to jump in with a suggestion near the Mariahilf: Phoenixhof:
                It sounds like just your kind of place.

                Also, a group visit to a heuriger is a must. I'm a known Wieninger promoter but there are many.

                1. re: kukubura

                  I hope I can get the group to a heuriger. I know *I* want to go.

                  Phoenixhof could be good. The menu looks like what we'd be after. Not too expensive either.

                  1. re: Dr_Avalanche

                    Yeah, it's a great neighborhood joint. It's a mix of old school and young folks. Like I've said before, if I lived nearby you'd find me there all the time. Hell, we've been three times and already have a regular booth.

                    1. re: kukubura

                      That's the kind of endorsement I like to hear. :-) Any favorites on the menu?

                      1. re: Dr_Avalanche

                        Last time we were there we were pescatarians so we stuck with dumpling dishes: A spinatknodel mit gorgonzola sauce (great but you'd better LOVE gorgonzola!) and a baked knokerl dish that was kind of like the best mac and cheese you ever had. This time we went all in and had pork cordon bleu and a chicken schnitzel stuffed with spinach and bacon. They were both extremely awesome. It's just kind on an honest, good-food-cold-beer sort of place, full of lively groups of friends and a very friendly staff. Definitely not a tourist place at all.

                        They also serve a favorite dessert of my youth when I visited my grandparents in Vienna, germknodel. Sturmi says that this big jam-filled dumpling has fallen out of favor in Vienna today so it's a bit tough to find (it used to be everywhere) but I have a soft spot for it. It's covered in poppy seeds, sugar and butter.

                        1. re: kukubura

                          I'm getting pumped up now... Thanks again for the tip.

                          1. re: Dr_Avalanche

                            Dr_Avalanche: Come back and tell us how the trip was!

                            1. re: kukubura

                              Kukubura, we had a great time! Your advice came well to pass. Only the weather caused some trouble, but gave us some memorable things to talk about as well. I'm no good at brevity, so this might get a bit long.

                              The first night we had nothing planned, so we called Phöenixhof were lucky enough to get a table. They were a bit shortstaffed with only one waitress serving the entire restaurant which meant quite slow service, but we were in no hurry and we loved the atmosphere of the place.
                              I had the liver dumpling soup which I liked quite a lot. A friend who usually isn't fond of liver tried it as well and said he liked it too "despite being liver". Someone else had the Viennese soup with meat & vegetables. I didn't hear fanfares, but I think it went down well. For mains, I had the goulash while others tried an assortment of schnitzels. When it was time for dessert I was quite full already, but I remembered what you'd said about the germknödel, so I had to try it (and I tricked a couple others in the party to order one too). Once they arrived on the table, I realized I had made a mistake (in thinking I could ever clean the plate, at least). It is such a massive dessert, it kind of defies description. It wasn't nearly as sweet as I imagined though, quite the opposite. We ate as much as we could of it, then passed it around the table, but in the end we were left with three less than half-eaten germknödels...

                              Next day, we visited Shloss Schönbrunn in the morning, then went to Museumsquartier and had lunch at Glacis Beisl. A bit more upscale, more trendy, and prices a bit higher as well. Again, we were lucky to get a table - we hadn't made any reservations, and showing up with a party of six, I would have been sympathetic if they had turned us down but they were quite accomodating, re-arranged their reservations a bit and got us seated. I found my favorite Austrian wine in the wine list (and the only one I remember the name of off the top of my hat...), Domainer Wachau. We were fortunate enough to get the last bottle. I had the variations of lamb which were done perfectly. Some had the goulash, which were a bit sparse - is it common to serve goulash without anything to it, like spetzl, or even bread? Those who had it said it was good, but that it really missed something. The asparagus soup looked great and got the thumbs up, but I didn't have a taste of it. The garden where most people sit and eat is a pleasant environment, and even though they seat a lot of people, it never gets loud. It's like a little oasis in the middle of the city.

                              We spent the afternoon looking around the Innere Stadt, and realized from all the singing people in German team jerseys that it was the day of the Austria-Germany World Cup qualifier, taking place in Vienna. We didn't have any dinner plans, so we stepped into the first bar with a tv we could find, a place called Sowieso, close to Schwedenplatz. It was a surprise, but I think everybody around the table was quite happy with the food, from the French onion soup to the mixed grill platter. It was a downer that the home team couldn't keep up with the Germans, as expected as it was, but we still had a great time. I wouldn't go there for drinks though - the drinks some of us ordered came right out of a can.

                              Saturday we had a quick lunch at the hot dog stand by the opera - I forget its name. Coming from Sweden where authorities are very uptight about serving alcohol to anyone anywhere, having a glass of beer (or champagne) right there in the street is a mildly surreal experience. We also took a walk through the Nachmarkt, but it was a mistake to not follow the advice to avoid the place during the weekend. It was packed with people, and frankly not a very enjoyable experience.

                              Later when it started to rain we took refuge from the rain in the classic Cafe Sacher and had some torte. Not my thing really, a very dense cake, but at least we can say we've been there. In the evening, we got on the street car for Heurigen Wieninger. We had made reservations by mail before we flew in to Vienna (it took a couple of weeks and one reminder to get confirmation of our reservation, so it might not be the normal way of making reservations, but at least it worked). We got seated in the garden and one of the waitresses explained how it all worked. They weren't all fluent in English, but most of them knew enough that communication wasn't a big problem. We had so many different things to eat and drink here that I don't know where to begin. Halfway through the evening, the sky suddenly darkened, someone said "I think it's gonna rain", and a couple minutes later, the skies opened up to a torrent of rain, and a few minutes later, hail. Everybody rushed indoors, and a giant sized game of musical chairs ensued for a while. The drains couldn't keep up with the rain and some of the rooms started to flood for a while, before the rain slowed down. Once seated, we went on to desserts, which they had a great selection of cakes and pies and of course, apfelstrudel. We all agreed that this easily the best meal of the weekend. The next morning we got on the plane back to Sweden.

                              1. re: Dr_Avalanche

                                Sounds like a great weekend! I'm glad my recommendations worked out and that you got your friends to visit Wieninger!

                                Was the wurstlstand by the opera house really sleek and made out of stainless steel? If so that's the one where we had our last snack after midnight on our last night in Europe. Sniff! Coming from the US we were also pretty excited about real glassware (and alcohol!) at a sausage stand on the street. They would never trust our countrymen with that here -- and with good reason!

                                1. re: kukubura

                                  Yes, it sounds like the same wurstlstand. It was awesome! The selection of beer was better than at my neighbourhood pub, which is quite sad, really.

                                  1. re: Dr_Avalanche

                                    This is a very famous Würstlstand: The "Bitzinger"
                                    It is owned and run by the same family who also runs the Augustinerkeller nearby:

                2. re: Dr_Avalanche

                  Phoenixhof is definitely worth a try, but there is more in Mariahilf:

                  First, it is quite close to the Naschmarkt, which might be fun for a lunch between Monday and Friday, but is too crowded on Saturday.

                  Second, the side streets of the Mariahilferstrasse are full of small ethnic restaurants and Viennese beisl, many with a similar setup like Phoenixhof. Try the Altwiener Gastwirtschaft Schilling on Burggasse, Schreiners Gastwirtschaft on Westbahnstrasse or Glacisbeisl on top of Museumsquartier:

                  Third, you will generally need reservations when arriving with a group of six, but might be more lucky when lunching after 2 pm or dining before 7 pm and after 9 pm.

                  Finally, I agree with Kukubura about Wieninger in Stammersdorf. IMHO this is the only heurigen worth visiting, since it combines great and authentic food with exceptional wine...

                  1. re: Sturmi

                    I expect we'll visit the Nashmarkt. I'll try to steer it to Friday then if it helps avoid the crowds.

                    As far as reservations go, do you think calling earlier the same day is sufficient? Is it the same thing at a heurigen like Wieninger?

                    1. re: Dr_Avalanche

                      Yes, calling a day ahead or earlier the same day is usually sufficient, and also for Wieninger.
                      Exception to this rule are very popular places such as Motto am Fluss, Rudis Beisl, or the newly reopened Palais Coburg.

                      1. re: Sturmi

                        Ok, thanks for the advice. I don't think we are going to try any of the more hopping places, so we should be fine.

                        1. re: Dr_Avalanche

                          Sturmi, please,
                          If we are staying in the innere Stadt for 5 days and going to Kutschker 44, Gaumenspiel, Walter Bauer, Weiniger, and some Beisels in the 7th Bezirk, is it worth to buy the Vienna card for transport? We will have a car, but think parking, etc. will be difficult.
                          Thanks again!

                          1. re: mausi7

                            Yes, the Vienna card is definitely recommended. Public transport is safe and reliable.

                            Not only parking, but also getting around with a car is tiresome and sometimes very costly...

                            The alternative would be using taxis, which are available everywhere, or the Citybike

                            1. re: Sturmi

                              Thanks again Sturmi. The car will stay in the garage.
                              By the way, for those driving: it was cheaper to hang onto the car for the entire trip rather than drop off in one country and rent in another.
                              Happy Spring!

                              1. re: mausi7

                                Thanks to everyone, but especially Sturmi for helping us plan our Vienna stay. We have returned with wonderful food, people and event memories.
                                So, here is a brief report:
                                Pfudl: Good, basic Viennese food, one of us had the Backhendl (fried chicken) the other, a Wiener Schnitzel.
                                Zum Finstern Stern: A late night Mediterraean influenced dinner after the Spanishsche Reitschule in a lovely setting. Creative cooking, worth a visit.
                                Gmoakeller: Some of the best Tafelspitz I have ever had. The Griesnockerl soup was so good. My husband had a wonderful potato & wild mushroom soup and Zwiebelrostbraten. Excellent traditional Viennese food !
                                Wieninger (Heurigen) The salads from the buffet (salsify, cucumber, beans in a green sauce, cabbage salad, olive salad, and tomato, asparagus salads were all wonderful. The meats were also well prepared, The garden setting evokes memories from the old Vienna we used to know.
                                Walter Bauer: Our annivsersary dinner --very good veal shoulder with a reduction sauce with leeks, a marinanted salmon trout appetizer, and great lamb. The Greuner Veltliner was fantastic. A romamtic, intimate evening for our 40th anniversary.
                                Magazin zu den Hacken; mediocre food on a Sunday evening and an unpleasant experience with a waitress who announced that "service was not included" as my husband was finishing signing the bill...she waited to do this until I ( who am a native German speaker) had briefly left the table. We are experienced travellers, aware of tipping conventions, tip quite generously and this was sleazy.
                                Gaumenspiel helped restore our good humor. The meal began with a goat cheese tartin which was great and a rabbit galantine. The cold asparagus soup was fantastic. The main courses (beef entrecote and venison) were also excellent. Worth the walk from Mariahilferstr.
                                Visited cafes: Landtmann, Diglas and Sperl---all good.

                                Walter Bauer
                                Vienna, Vienna, Vienna , AT

                                1. re: mausi7

                                  Thank you so much for your detailed feed back !!

                                  And yes, this attitude of waiters, mainly against people from the US, is quite widespread. I had the same experience last summer in Steirereck, where we had a dinner for a group of twelve invited by a company from California. I noticed too late that the waiter answered the question of our American host indicating that the service was "not included". Which is a straight lie ! You just give a tip for good service, the service has been already paid for ! And a tip of 5% is all you have to give, if your were happy ! If you did not like the service, do not tip at all!!

                                  1. re: Sturmi

                                    I know that tipping policy as well, but this waitress waited until I went to the ladies room and told my my non-German speaking husband, in English, that" service was not included." I also got there too late, he had already added more to the tip and didn't tell me abut the incident until after we had left the restaurant. I did email the restaurant and told them about the incident, received a reply that she would "investigate the incident" with her colleague and never heard back from them. At some point, it is no longer worth the effort.

                                  2. re: mausi7

                                    Thanks for the recap! Sounds like a lot of winners. We're definitely going to explore many of those next time we're there.

                                    Also, congrats on the 40th anniversary! Very nice milestone.

                                    1. re: kukubura

                                      Thanks, Kukubara, for the good wishes.
                                      Addendum: The restaurant "Magazin Zu den Drei Hacken" in Vienna responded to my complaint about the dishonest waitress by apologizing and also calling me "hartnaeckig" (stubborn) because I requested a reply to my complaint. I am done. Avoid this restaurant.