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Mar 24, 2011 06:01 PM

Need Upscale Dinner Recommendations for Vienna

My husband and I will be staying at the Hotel Imperial for 4 nights. We need restaurant recommendations for very special, memorable dinners. We are looking for great food, a gourmet experience, fabulous service, and beautiful ambience. Thus far, we are considering the Imperial at our hotel and Steirereck, Walter Bauer and Anna Sacher. I have not been able to find sample menus for Steirereck, Walter Bauer and Anna Sacher, and without some idea of what is offered on the menu, I'm a little apprehensive about dining there. Please describe the menu and ingredients at these 3 restaurants, if possible. In addition to commenting on all of the restaurants I have listed, please recommend others that you think we should not miss. When making your recommendations, however, please keep in mind that we are American and are seeking straightforward, not too exotic, ingredients and preparations.

Thanks for the help!

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  1. Look: there is a big problem:
    we do NOT have anything better than Steirereck, Walter Bauer and Anna Sacher.
    These are the best you can have in town. period.

    And: of course there are menu samples available on the internet:

    And yes: the menues do not spare you at all:
    what you get here is pure, authentic, high-end Austrian cuisine, and only few items might be disturbing for the average American tastebud.


    14 Replies
    1. re: Sturmi

      I went to Vienna last October and ate at Zum Finsteren Stern (after having read the NY Times review). Had an amazing meal there. Several courses, wonderful drinks, and the owners personal attention. Was definitely worthwhile.

      1. re: sweetteach

        Thanks for the recommendation. I will check it out, and I'd love to read the NY Times review. Do you happen to recall when it was published?

        1. re: MalibuCA

          Just do a search for Finsteren Stern on the NYT website and two pieces pop up - one in 2008 and one in 1998.

          1. re: gutsofsteel

            Yes, two pieces pop up, but beware: the 1998 piece refers to the old location, which is no more active.

            The new location, on Schulhof, is tricky enough to find, especially when you look for the Dark Star outside its opening hours...

            Here is a review with photos and location:

            1. re: Sturmi

              Thanks for your replies.

              Sturmi -- Are the taxis familiar with the location? Can you foresee a problem for us getting lost if we take a taxi from the hotel to the restaurant and ask the restaurant to call a taxi for us to return to the hotel?


              1. re: MalibuCA

                You will need to take great care - Vienna taxi drivers get lost all the time and will probably just abandon you in the depths of the Vienna woods!

                1. re: quenouille

                  Lol if that happens just climb to the top of the Jubilaumswarte and see if you can spot your hotel from there!

                  1. re: quenouille

                    Wow! That's scary! I guess I better keep my map in hand at all times! Thanks

                    1. re: MalibuCA

                      Have you ever been to Vienna before? It's possibly the most sophisticated and civilized place on earth. You could just take public transportation and be anywhere you want in like 15 minutes if you have any trouble.

                      Also here's how close your hotel is to the restaurant. It's a short and beautiful walk:


                      1. re: kukubura

                        Actually I visited Vienna with my parents when I was 15 years old -- trust me, that was a looooong time ago! I do remember it's beauty and sophistication, and that's why I'm returning (with my husband this time!) Do many people speak English? Will it be possible for me to communicate that I'm lost and where I'm trying to go? Do the public transportation drivers speak English? How I wish I was multi-lingual!!!!

                        1. re: MalibuCA

                          You'll have no problem. On our recent multi-stop trip we found that many people in Prague and Vienna spoke fine English while in Krakow even the younger folks didn't speak any. It was interesting.

                          While I have your attention, I also want to suggest you don't only limit yourself to very expensive places. The soul of a city isn't just in its international high-flying linen-tablecloth restaurants but in the breadth of its cultural offerings. Don't skip out on a meal at a rustic beisl or at an outdoor cafe in the Naschmarkt or at a traditional Czech pivovar, or a langos at the market hall in Budapest, or even a sausage at a kiosk in the middle of the night. You'll love them all in their own ways.

                          1. re: kukubura

                            Kukubura -- Thanks for the response on communicating in English -- it's very reassuring and good to know.

                            You definitely have my attention, and I really am interested in experiencing the local foodie culture -- not just the "upscale" venues. I addressed my posting that way because I was cautious about getting recommendations for the best experiences. I'm fairly new on Chowhound, and I'm learning as I go. Please tell me more about your suggestions. What is a beisl? I'm already planning on grabbing food at the Naschmarkt -- it sounds like a lot of fun. Also, what is a Czech pivovar in Prague? What is a langos at the market hall in Budapest? We are definitely going to the market hall -- my husband LOVES pickles, and when I read that they have a fabulous pickle selection, I didn't have to say anymore to convince him that we are going there! Please enlighten me on some of your suggestions. You've got my attention and definitely my curiousity! Thanks

                            1. re: MalibuCA

                              What is a Beisl?

                              This is a typical Viennese institution where local people go for lunch. Beisls are often not open in the evening or at weekends. Expect authentic food (e.g., Tafelspitz) and not so many tourists - sometimes there will be a Stammtich which is reserved for regulars.

                              Rudi's Biesl is a good example - but you will need to reserve.

                              Of all German speaking cities, Vienna seems to be full of people who will communicate with you in English including taxi drivers. It is a most courteous city and your presence will be appreciated. You'll have spotted that some of the remarks above are a gentle wind-up.

                              1. re: MalibuCA

                                While in Vienna you certainly have to visit a Heurigen. They are little restaurants known for the wine they are offering and for their hospitality. Even if you are not into wine drinking they are sure worth a visit. But do not go to Grinzing - it is hard to find a Heurigen that is not just catching Tourists. You will hardly find a local there. Neustift is a lot better (e.g. Zimmermann or Zeilinger). Also in the 13. (Hietzing) or 16. (Ottakring) district you will find some very fine locations which would be rather basic, but there you could catch a little bit of the spirit of Vienna.

                                Have fun, take care and kindest regards,

        2. The Wieninger heuriger looks and feel casual but the cooking and the wine are absolutely top notch. The chef there is fantastic. (And he's a bud... He's been emailing my wife recipes. Gotta finish that trip report!)

          1. Coming back to your original request for high-end places I would like to recommend the Vestibül restaurant, located inside the Burgtheater:

            Like Anna Sacher and Schwarzes Kameel the Vestibül offers an unique ambiente, but maybe the best cuisine of these three upscale places.

            1. MalibuCA : When are we gonna get out recaps? We need to know how it worked out! Or were you stranded in the Wienerwald by a cab driver? ;)

              4 Replies
              1. re: kukubura

                Hi, Kukubura and everyone else who may be interested --

                Thanks for remembering me. It's been months since you helped me plan our culinary adventures. I've been meaning to recap our foodie experiences, but I haven't been feeling well since we returned from Europe on September 25. Nothing serious, but will take some time to convalesce, and that's why I haven't updated yet. In summary, we had some great times!

                In Paris, we took a fabulous private gastronomy tour with Muguet of Paris Sweet Paris. Our tastes included savories such as oils, vinegars, salamis, cheeses, and patisseries as well. Needless to say, we cancelled our dinner reservation that night because we were still stuffed, and instead, grabbed a late snack in the lounge at our hotel, the Four Seasons Hotel George V. Muguet is wonderful! She is extremely smart, very knowledgeable about foods and Paris, and she showed us a wonderful time. She is actually Iranian, but has lived much of her life in France. Her English is perfect. A friend of ours, who is a real foodie and a fabulous cook, recommended Muguet's tour, and we are very happy that she did.

                In Prague, we settled on the following restaurants:

                U Modre Kachnicky I (loved the duck and the restaurant was so beautiful!)

                Coda Restaurant at the Hotel Aria ( food was fabulous, and the view of the city from the rooftop dining venue was magical -- a real winner!)

                V Zatisi -- again a winner! Food was delicious!

                Aquarius at the Alychmist Grand Hotel Spa -- also exceptional

                I'm sorry I can't recall what I ate at each place, but I have only fond memories of all.

                In Budapest, we decided to dine at the following restaurants:

                Tigris -- we really loved this place, it was very comfortable and easy-going. The staff were very helpful with the menu and very friendly as well. It was a great spot for our first night, just around the corner from our hotel.

                Rezkakas Restaurant -- This place is so much fun! There was a 3-piece orchestra just feet from our table entertaining us with lively music and singing throughout our meal. I didn't expect too much with the food since many restaurants that provide entertainment during the meal are often not the best food. However, we were pleasantly surprised. Was it absolutely the finest food I've experienced in Europe? No, but it was very good and the entertainment was priceless. The entertainment provided a very special evening, and it should be noted that the music was always kept at a level that did not intrude on our dining experience. For anyone that goes to Rezkakas, I recommend requesting to sit in the room where the music is located. We were staying at the Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace (which was beyond gorgeous), and I asked the Concierge to make our dining reservations for us before we left LA. The Concierge requested the room with the musicians, and I'm really happy that he did!

                Fausto's Restaurant -- The food was very good, and it was nice to get Italian food for a change.

                Vadrozsa -- Beyond fabulous!!! One of my favorite restaurants of the entire trip. If you are staying in Buda, then you will definitely need to cab it because Vadrozsa is in Pest. It is a beautiful restaurant, spectacular service, incredible food. But be advised, it's not cheap. Fortunately, the USD goes a long way against Hungarian currency, but it is still pricey. It is on a par with dining in a most exclusive restaurant in any large city. Because of the cost and the location that requires transportation, Vadrozsa was not crowded at all. The dining room is not too large, but there were only 4 tables taken, including ours. All the better for the best service! If you want a special memorable evening, then Vadrozsa is the place! It is definitely a "special occasion" meal.

                Vienna was more challenging for us, but that's mainly because Austrian cuisine isn't our favorite.
                We happen to love duck, lamb and foie gras, both of which we found in abundance in Prague and Budapest, but not to be found as much to our liking in Vienna. That being said, we still found some excellent meals in Vienna.

                Restaurant Korso and Sacher Rote Bar -- Both of these restaurants were very good and very convenient to the music venues that we went to on two nights following dinner. We went to Restaurant Korso prior to the Musikverein. We absolutely loved the Musikverein. The chamber orchestra played Mozart and Strauss, the musicians were all dressed in period piece, and we really loved it. The next night, we went to Sacher Rote Bar prior to the Opera (Don Giovanni), which was equally spectacular to the Musikverein. The food at both restaurants was quite good, the service just okay (not very friendly), and the performances at both music venues spectacular.

                Fabio's -- Good Italian food, but it wasn't my favorite restaurant. I'm not sure why, maybe it was the ambience. The restaurant had a very modern hip vibe that left me feeling cold. The waiter was extremely friendly and attentive, however.

                Arner Frankziskanerplatz -- This was our favorite restaurant in Vienna, but I think it's because we were able to get a good "American-style" steak. The food was excellent, and it was so great to get a plain old steak after two weeks of intensive gourmet food!

                I don't want it to seem like we didn't care for the food in Vienna. It was really quite good (especially the Sacher Torte, of course!), but it was just more challenging for us to find familiar items that we wanted to order. I think, also, that our challenges may have been due to the fact, in part, that Vienna was the last city on our trip. We had already dined for two weeks in Paris, Prague and Budapest. Perhaps if Vienna had been our first stop, we would have better received the food. After two weeks of rich and heavy foods, however, I think we were just ready to return home to a lighter diet dining on my healthy home cooking. In addition, I started not feeling well our last two days in Vienna, and that, of course, could have affected my appetite as well.

                All in all, our meals were wonderful. Thank you to everyone who took the time to answer my many questions and lend me your guidance. The best news of all: When we got on the scale at home, both my husband and I lost weight! Who goes on a vacation and loses weight?!!! It was a huge surprise, but I attribute it to the many, many miles of walking that we did sightseeing in 4 of the most beautiful cities we've ever seen. Thanks again, everyone, for helping to make our European Adventure so special!

                1. re: MalibuCA

                  Hello MalibuCA,

                  Thanks you very much for your detailed report. I am quite sorry that you did not enjoy the food in Vienna as much as in Budapest or Prague. On the other hand I total agree with you about Fabio´s. I would not have recommended this place to an American tourist...

                  Maybe you will have another chance to sample more inventive Viennese cuisine on another visit. I am quite sure that the wonderful music you had the chance to enjoy will make you come back !

                  1. re: Sturmi

                    Thanks for checking back in. I haven't been to any of the places that you listed so I can't really agree or disagree with your thoughts but I will say that I agree that, as much as I LOVE to eat, after a couple of weeks of heavy food you definitely can get food fatigue. Sometimes you need to vary it up along the way to keep it fresh. Still, sound like a great trip.

                    By the way, that doesn't look like two weeks worth of meals. Did you end up in any casual spots for other meals that are worth noting? Some of our favorite foods from our trips have been in really small, neigborhood places or even out on the street.

                    1. re: kukubura

                      Sturmi -- Yes, we will definitely return to Vienna, and perhaps make it our FIRST stop next time.

                      Kukubura -- No, we did not dine in the evening in any other restaurants. We had 4 nights in each of Prague, Budapest and Vienna, which I listed above. We also had 2 nights in Paris at the front end. The first night we dined at L'Atelier Maitre Albert, which was both delicious and charming. As an added bonus, the view after dinner was unforgettable. As we stepped outside the restaurant, we found ourselves right on the Seine across from Notre Dame. Beautiful at night! We were reserved the next night at Fontaine de Mars, but as I said above, we ate so much during our foodie tour that we couldn't even think of an 8:00 p.m. dinner reservation. That's why we ended up about 11:00 p.m. at the lounge at our hotel, which was excellent. We did stop at casual spots a number of days during our sightseeing, but I'd have to look at my photos (which I'm drowning in right now as I "photoshop") to get the names. All I can say is that we really enjoyed most of the places we ate at throughout our trip, and I'd do it all over again in a second given the chance.