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Vienna weekend, medium sized report

Just returned from a trip to Vienna last week and learned a few things: the Naschmarkt is one of my favourite places on earth, the Blaue Bar in Hotel Sacher serves one of the best Negronis going and the cafes in the middle of the museum quarter are a great place to drink beer, eat snacks and wait out a thunderstorm.

We started the trip with a visit to Anna Sacher for my wife's birthday and each opted for a different 6 course tasting menu with wine pairings. I had the menu Anna Sacher and my wife the Innovativ, I'll really only speak for the key dishes I most enjoyed and give my thoughts on how she enjoyed hers. The aspargus vanilla-cruller w/ smoked goose liver was like a cold heavenly pillow of creamy goodness, with goose liver. I wasn't sure what to expect with this dish but was it ever outstanding, so much vanilla in the cold creamy "cruller" and with finely shaved goose liver on top to add the umame quotient it required. Then the rabbit lobster cabbage noodles with lovage, I really didn't expect the "noodles" to be cabbage, I thought they would be some kind of cabbage infused noodle but I was wrong. The combo of the rabbit, lobster and cabbage sounds odd but they went together beautifully in a very rich and fulfilling dish, the only complaint was the lobster was a bit overcooked and chewy. My wife really enjoyed her meal as well and the two raviolis stood out the most. First the tomato essence spiny lobster raviolo with chervil was a soup that exploded with tomato flavour when the "bubble" of tomato essence was broken, a great taste and surprise. Then the halibut hollandaise ravioli with cherry caused a deep silence while it was consumed, they cherry was not an obvious choice in this combination but very well received.

All in all Anna Sacher is an outstanding restaurant in formidible surroundings, the art on display in the dinning room was beautiful as was the overall ambiance. The only draw back I felt was the service, it did not "wow" me as the food did and at times was sloppy. I was also disappointed we were not reminded what the dishes were that were served, generally each course was just placed in front of us and the server backed away. With six courses, and wine, the reminders would have been appreciated as we had to refesh our memories from the online menu when we got back to the hotel. Even with this and the expense it was most worthwhile and I highly recommend Anna Sacher to anyone looking for a high end dinning experience in Vienna.

We didn't take the breakfast option at the hotel but also didn't expect to find so little around our hotel that was open on a Saturday late morning. We ended up for early lunch at Mullerbeisel (Seilerstatte 15), but this is not a place to recommend or return to. We kept it as simple as we could as it was our breakfast and had soup (creamy garlic and broth with pancake noodles) and smoked salmon on toast. Nothing great here, the place was packed with a bus tour shortly after we arrived and I think that must be their bread and butter.

After reading other reviews of Gmoakeller, and it was only 100 meters from our hotel, we did go there for an early dinner before the ballet. I had my only Weiner Schnitzel of the trip here, saved the dish for this location as I believed I'd be getting something very special. To be honest it wasn't a favourite, the breading lacked texture, the meat a little chewy and I'm sure it was deep fried not pan fried. I still hold the best WS I've had in the last 2 months is at home in Brno, CZ at the Austro-Hungarian restaurant Hansen (details here if you do a "find" for Hansen - http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/783909). The ambiance of Gmoakeller was beautiful and as traditional as others have mentioned, the WS won't keep me from returning here next time I'm in Vienna.

On to the Naschmarkt...

This is the kind of place I dreamed about living in India the past year and a half: a cornucopia of packed restaurants with happy diners and wonderful smells; produce that demanded to be eaten; deli products that would not all fit into my bag; top notch butchers and a quirky flea market/boot sale to top it all off. We had our two small meals here at Chi (Vietnamese) because we've missed Vietnamese so much since we left home a while back. They had our favourite Goi Cuon (summer roles with shrimp) and a Pho that smelled divine but tasted like a small slice of beefy noodley heaven. I can't complain about anything here, the place was tiny but the service and food excellent, I'd like to pack the place up and bring it to Brno so I could eat there every day. After this we went around the corner to Hella Gruber (fish market) and had the Euro 2.50 oysters another poster mentioned, they weren't cheap but after a total oyster derth for the last year and a half they hit the spot with a very nice (and unknown) local white they were pouring. I do prefer my oysters on the smaller side, and these were not, but they were still very fresh and left nothing but smiles on our faces.

As we can't get much, if any, lamb here in Brno I stopped at one of the many butcher shops. After quite a bit of pantomime, pointing at parts of my body that I wanted the lamby equivalent of I did walk away with an expensive but very tasty bag of lamb (had the shanks last night braised in red wine and mushrooms with feta, roasted garlic mashed potatoes). The mushrooms for the braise were from one of the produce vendors who had a nice stack of chantrelles (my assumption) and morrels. We also got several containers of olives, deli meats and cheeses to fill the cooler for the return trip home. The only places we missed in my opinion were the sauerkraut/pickle vendor that I will return to next time when the cooler isn't so full and some of the beef the butchers had... great looking standing ribeye roasts and t-bones waiting to be cut.

I don't remember the place we stopped last in the museum quarter, after some heavy duty museuming, but it was on the far left side of the quad. I liked the ambiance in this little area, hipster bistros, with equally hipster staff cooking and serving. It could have been horribly pretentious but it wasn't, simple but beautiful burgers, plates of sliced salamis, proscuitto, hummus, olives and sandwiches. A great place to watch people and wait out a thunderstorm while enjoying a few beers and snacks.

My first real visit to Vienna was a great experience and as we're only a couple of hours away we'll be back, often, and I hope to experience more of what the city has to offer.

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  1. Sounds like a great weekend! Wish we were only a couple hours away!

    When you say "we've missed Vietnamese so much since we left home a while back" where are you referring to? We had a pretty interesting day in Sapa in Prague, so I'm just curious.

    1 Reply
    1. re: kukubura

      Back home in Calgary, Canada Vietnamese restaurants are ubiquitous and on almost every corner. We would normally have either Pho, Bun, Viet omlette or Bahn Mi at least once or twice a week before we left.

      Brno's Vietnamese scene is very small and lacks the quality of the food we had in Calgary and Vienna. For example the Pho I had in Brno had a very watery broth with almost no beef taste to it and very little evidence of the spices I would normally expect (corriander, star anise, thai/viet basil, etc...). So far we've only found 3 restos here so there's not much competition, with luck more will open and they'll have to sharpen up their broth to compete.

    2. Ella's Cafe Bar Restaurant - Judenplatz 9 - 10

      We had one night in Vienna after an airport pickup and a hectic day, so Ella's falls into the category of "stumbled upon". We went out the front door of the hotel and figured we'd walk for 15 minutes and see if anything looked good. After submling into Judenplatz and contemplating the 5 choices we could easily see Ella's seemed to fit the bill of busy, funky and smelling very good (lots of seafood on offer).

      I started with the seafood soup and my wife the basil foam soup with mozzarella wonton. The seafood soup was without a doubt one of the best I've ever had, the fish was beautifully moist and flakey, the shell fish not over cooked in the least and the broth a delightful tomato base. My wife also really enjoyed the basil foam soup and the fried wontons that were served on the side so they wouldn't get mushy.

      Next up my wife had a shrimp curry and I had the pita burger. The burger was excellent except for the pita, they had cut two round pieces out of a pita bread and used those as the "bun", unfortunately they could not handle the burger and disintegrated after 2 bites. But, the burger and it's constituent parts were excellent and I enjoyed it thoroughly. As well the shrimp curry was great, the shrimps not overcooked and a very generous size.

      We had a bottle of a local Vertliner that had a wonderful flowery nose, crisp apple taste with elderflower notes, sorry didn't get the name on the label.

      Great experience at Ella's and if we're back in the area again I'm determined we'll stumble in again.

      3 Replies
      1. re: vanderb

        Was this from a return visit? Looking forward to more trip reports. Try to hit a heuriger next time. I love the idea of drinking the wine straight from the producer along with their traditional foods.

        1. re: kukubura

          Yes it was a return trip, didn't want to start a new thread and clutter things up. I would like to get to a heuriger as well, but will most likely hit one in Lower Austria when we're driving around on weekends.

          Only challenge is the Czech zero.zero alcohol limit for the driver, ie: zero tolerance. Have to be very careful when coming back over the border from Austria.

          1. re: vanderb

            I feel like my blood alcohol level goes up automatically whenever my plane lands in Vienna international.

      2. New report from last weekend...not a total success for new and interesting in Vienna, at least not for me. We did settle on Phoenixhof for Saturday night dinner instead of Chinese, and then Phoenixhof cancelled on me that morning stating government restriction... not sure what that is/was.

        We had Friday lunch and Saturday breakfast at our favourite Vietnamese Kitchen in the Naschmarkt, not the big Saigon place but the tiny little one with 7 or 8 tables. I just can't get enough of the Pho they make there and it was a treat to have it for breakfast again, as it should be.

        Dinner on Friday was determined to be a fish night to make up for the lack in Brno, but I don't think we chose well. We were still in the Naschmarkt after lingering over some very nice Grunner Veltliner and buying non-perishables to take home, so we went to Strandhaus. The menu looked good, the place was packed and food was flying out. Unfortunately the way the fish was cooked tainted the experience for me. Everything was "fried/grilled" on a plancha, which resulted in all the fish tasting pretty similar. The fish was fresh and the service, after an initial problem finding our waiter, was good and attentive. Too bad they aren't using different methods for cooking their seafood so it doesn't all taste the same. Next time I want seafood in Vienna I think I'll go back to our "stumbled upon" find, Ella's on Judenplatz, far better cooking technique and flavourful options.

        We skipped lunch on Saturday after the tasty, tasty Pho and Goi Cuon for breakfast as we were deep into museum/gallery territory and didn't need the break. After finding our Phoenixhof reservation cancelled we lost our initiative and stayed at the Museum Quarter for an early dinner at Halle. We've previously had a beer here and found the atmosphere funky and the food attractive, dinner didn't disappoint. We started with the cheese plate for two which had massive amounts of excellent blue, goat, tallagio and grana padana cheeses, with a small basket of bread. Great cheese, excellent quantities and nothing to complain about. We followed it up with a cheese burger and club sandwich as they were very popular and a lot of them were being served. Again, both were great and the burger was really very large. The only complaint I'll make was the lackluster overly dressed coleslaw that accompanied both sandwiches.

        On Sunday morning we thought we'd be able to return to the Naschmarkt for another Pho, but failed to read the "Closed on Sunday" signs on pretty much everything in the markt. Not sure where to turn, as nothing was planned, we returned to a place a few doors down from our hotel, Martinjak. There were quite a few people on the terrace so we figured it couldn't be too bad. Big downside was no "breakfast", so we ordered a soup, an apple struddle and a Tyrolean cheese and meat plate. The struddle and soup were good, nothing special but nothing bad. The Tyrolean cheese plate was very good and piled high with proscuitto, boiled ham, liverwurst, lard with bacon flecks (OMG good but my heart kicked me twice to say "no more"), several cheeses and a very small assortment of pickled veggies. I really enjoyed the plate, especially the liverwurst with fresh horseradish.

        So, as I started with, nothing too adventurous but still a great weekend away.

        5 Replies
        1. re: vanderb

          Thank you very much for sharing your mixed experience.

          I strongly agree with your feelings about the Strandhaus restaurant. This place, as well as most others (Nordsee, Nautilus) in the same area, are below average. The only exception is the Umar restaurant, but this is usually crowded with regulars and very small to begin with...

          For anyone interested in fish there are only a few places, and none of these is inexpensive, since the sea is quiet far away. People say that the fish restaurants on Marc Aurelstrasse (Aurelius, Kornat, Le Salzgries) are the best you can get in town.

          I also agree with your preference for the small Vietnamese By Chi on Nachmarkt.
          By Chi is much more authentic than the newly reopened Pho Saigon, which is having the usual fate of a too much success: a rapid loss of quality....

          Not quite far from the Naschmarkt on Gumpendorferstrasse 91 is a great Thai place, the Thai Isaan Kitchen. Open every day, but only Monday to Saturday for lunch.

          Getting breakfast is not as difficult as you found it to be: just go to a Kaffeehaus. Some of them serve breakfast starting 3 a.m., like the Cafe Drechsler on Naschmarkt.

          Sunday brunches are also very popular. There are so many, it is hard to list all of them, here is just a hint: http://www.wien.info/en/shopping-wini...

          1. re: Sturmi

            Sturmi, any insight into the "government restriction" situation at Phoenixhof? Maybe an annual inspection or something? Very mysterious.

            1. re: kukubura

              I am as perplexed as you are. No idea what has happened, would have to call and ask. Since they do not know me, I am not sure what they would be ready to tell...

              Maybe they just had a closed event, some private celebration ??

            2. re: Sturmi

              Sturmi thanks for the fish restaurant recommendations. I'm back in Vienna Sept 4th for one night, before flying to Gozo, no one has replied to my post for Gozo :-( . Marc Aurel Stasse is a little far from our hotel that night but if we're up for the walk we'll head in that direction.

              I'll work on my skills for getting breakfast in Vienna, so far only hotel options have been "easy". I was in Bangalore, India for a year and half before this, where the Sunday buffet is king, but I really just don't care for buffets no matter how high end the attempt is.

              1. re: vanderb

                There's nothing easier than a Viennese coffee house. The only risk is that you're so relaxed that you end up sitting there all day and forget to do whatever else you had planned!

          2. Made it back to Vienna last weekend for the Christmas markets and a pre-Christmas break from work.

            Dinner after a hair raising drive on Friday night was at our favourite Vietnamese place in the Naschmarkt, Chi. No surprises here, except we almost didn't get one of the 4 tables (eek). Great Pho and completely satisfying summer rolls. From here we strolled to the Maria Theresa market to have a Gluwein and get a peek at what awaited us the next day. I was at first shocked by the cost of the Gluwein, until I understood it included a "rental" fee for the mug and we'd get it back when we returned the mug. I liked this environmentally friendly approach, but missed the opportunity to take my wine to go as I wasn't too interested in collecting mugs. We also had a post dinner Kasenockerl as it looked and smelled so good. I really enjoyed it, more so than the Slovakian hlusky with sheep's milk cheese we tend to get in this part of the CZ. The cheese was obviously of a harder variety and the crispy topping sprinkled on was a great texture addition.

            Breakfast on Saturday was at the Rathaus Xmas market and was intended to be some Kasenockerl as we figured it would be at every market. As we didn't see any that caught our fancy at the Rathaus we opted for a couple of nice bratwursts with buns and a side of pomme frites. The brats were great but the real business appeared to be the kolbasa. We held off the kolbasa as that's pretty much all you get up here in CZ.

            From here we headed to Freyung for the market and quickly realized this is where breakfast should have been done. There is a great little organic/bio food markt across the street from the main Xmas market. We loaded up on fresh salsicca, stinky cheeses and a couple of mugs of orangenpunsch and the apple punch who's spelling iludes me now. No "rental" on the mugs here, just a promise to return them to the booth we got them from. The orangenpunsch was very good and warming, I really never thought hot orange juice with rum and spice would work for me but did it ever.

            From here we headed down the street to the Am Hof Xmas market, which had some of the coolest stuff to buy including an antique jewelry/watch/odds n'ends vendor or two. Another orangenpunsch at the massive charcuterie stand was in order, sadly breakfast was still holding out as this stand had the most amazing looking sandwiches, brats and kolbasas and smelled (to a carnivore) like heaven.

            From here we circled back to Maria Theresa Xmas market as it was quite chilly and the walk to Karlzplatz and back to the hotel seemed a bit daunting at the time. We relaxed, had a glass of wine and then headed to Phoenixhof (finally) for dinner. I made, and was able to keep, a reservation this time and we were greatly pleased by our dinner. I had the Phoenix Schnitzel stuffed with feta, ham and garlic (lots) and bowl of the soup with pancake ribbons. My SO, the soup with liver dumplings and the Brunner Schnitzel with ham, cheese and peas. Everything was outstanding, the broth for the soups rich and flavourful and the schnitzels were tender and moist... obviously a very experienced hand in the kitchen. This was the best schnitzel I've had outside the much lauded (by me) Hansen restaurant in my current home town of Brno, CZ.

            One additional thing we noticed and greatly appreciated was that most restaurants on the same street as Phoenixhof appeared to be non-smoking, numerous people huddled outside in the cold, just like home. I wanted to ask Sturmi if there is some new legislation coming to ban smoking in restaurants or if it's just a weird occurance on this street? There were some signs up about being "rauchfrei", which at first had me thinking of roaches and caused a couple of seconds of concern, until we looked harder at the signs and the symbol on them and figured it out (my German is only slightly better than my Czech language skill).

            Next day we suffered a miserable buffet breakfast at the hotel as we wanted to get going at a decent hour. We headed to the Belvedere for their Xmas market and tour of the galleries. The Belvedere market was lack luster, we managed a bag of hot roasted potatoes and two bags of roasted chestnuts (currently resting in the freezer waiting to be turned into chestnut, leek and apple stuffing for Xmas dinner).

            Another great weekend in Vienna, we'll be back for the New Year's Eve weekend, I may try for another reservation at Phoenixhof for Dec 30th. Another Sturmi question... I'm assuming there will be a ton of street food on New Year's eve in the main Innerstadt pedestrian area and we can likely gnosh our way through the evening as we stroll, is this accurate? Is there another area of town you can recommend for good NYE fun (not looking for clubs/disco type environments)?


            3 Replies
            1. re: vanderb

              Awesome report! Glad you finally made it to Phonixhof and that it lived up to (my) hype!

              1. re: vanderb

                Hello vanderb,
                Re smoking:
                Smoking cigarettes is still quite popular over here, especially with women and young people. Therefore many restaurant, beisl, bar and cafe owners are opposing a total ban of smoking. Anti-smoking legislation has been present for some time, but the proposed separation of smokers and non-smokers has been quite inefficient.

                Starting January 1, 2011, a new law has now enforced a stricter regulation. Small restaurants can choose whether they are smoking or non-smoking places, larger restaurants have to install a wall between the smokers area and the non-smoking area, and any door in this wall has to stay closed all the time. Many restaurants and beisl have decided to ban smoking, and those are the places you noticed, where people are going outdoors for their smoke. A few beisl, such as Rudis Beisl, are smokers only, but the numbers of smokers are declining, and you might find yourself in a smoke-free ambiente even when a sticker declares the place to be a smokers heaven...

                Re Silvesterpfad:
                On NYE the street food along the Inner City pedestrian area is available in a long row of kiosks all over town, which will serve a large variety of different food items, very similar to what you found on the Xmas markets. There will also be all kinds of music, very loud music, from several outdoor stages, and there will be even more noise from too many firecrackers and fireworks. We avoid this area during NYE at any cost, and this year we go to Venice to celebrate there.

                For more info about the NYE in Vienna read more here:
                Balls, special NYE dinners and other events at theaters, hotels and restaurants (a very complete list !!):

                1. re: Sturmi

                  Sturmi thanks for the clarification on smoking in restaurants. Here in the Czech Republic smoking is even more popular than Vienna and there has been no attempt to implement any sort of policy such as Vienna's. Finding a smoke free place here is a very rare treat, finding a place with a no-smoking section is easy but there are no walls so the smoke just drifts into the no-smoking section :-(

                  Appreciate the NYE links and I hope you enjoy Venice, although they are known for throwing some pretty good and loud parties themselves.

              2. Returned to Vienna this past weekend due to some business travel that was cancelled and left me with a hotel room for one night that we turned into two nights.

                Only two new food ventures this time around because we were really keen to hit our favourite By Chi for breakfast both days and we had to return to Phoenixhof.

                Nothing does breakfast for me quite like Vietnamese Pho and a Vietnamese drip coffee, unfortunately they were out of Vietnamese coffee but the Pho was excellent as always. It's also very nice that the owner/hostess always remembers us and knows what we like... even though she must see hundreds of people a week in the Naschmarkt.

                At Phoenixhof I went traditional this time around, clear broth soup with pancake and old school weinerschnitzel. The soup was excellent with just a hint of nutmeg, very soul warming but the schnitzel was outstanding. It was extremely thin, very tender and it did not appear to have been deep fried (although I could be wrong). The dish of potato salad and fresh vinegared veggies was also great with not too much caraway seed (big plus).

                One of the new places was Culinaria Asia EAT (Getreidemarkt 11). We had a hankering for Chinese food and figured we'd find something on the walk from the Naschmarkt to the hotel. Unfortunately we didn't really realize this place was "Pan Asian" not Chinese before we sat down. We had also been walking quite a bit that day so we didn't feel like getting up and going elsewhere.

                We had their steamed dumplings, Vietnamese summer rolls, Siracha duck and Thai green curry with crispy chicken. The appetizers were the best of the dishes, most especially the steamed dumplings that were very flavourful and with a great toothsome quality. The summer rolls were good, but not as good as By Chi's. The duck was flavourful but they couldn't have used much Siracha sauce as there was little to no heat in the dish. The green curry was the biggest disappointment, it was thin and watery with no flavour of coconut milk at all... and too salty.

                We'll give this place a pass next time around.

                On Friday, after cycling back to the Naschmarkt from Schonbrunn Palace, we found ourselves thirsty and in need of snacks so we went to Do An in the Naschmarkt to watch people in the sunshine and sample some Turkish snacks.

                We ordered the large plate of snacks including kofte, borek, hummus, marinated grilled veggies and some very fresh flat bread. Along with several Aperol and Kaiser spritzers, the sunshine and the throngs of people the snacks made a great way to while away a couple of hours.

                On our first night we also went to Cafe Corbaci for a glass of wine after Phoenixhof, this place is in the Museum Quarter at the MuMok end. The ambiance was great with a Turkish tiled ceiling, lots of tables, no smoking and a very enthusiastic older waiter. A great place to stop if you're museum'ing and need a non-smoky indoor place for refreshments.

                1 Reply
                1. It has been some time since I updated on our Vienna eating but that's mostly because we keep returning to favourites. That has changed a bit now that By Chi is gone from the Naschmarkt and we've had a chance to explore a bit more.

                  This weekend we tried a new (to us) Vietnamese place on Karlsplatz, Vietthao. We went with traditional favourites, summer rolls and 2 orders of Pho. The summer rolls were good but lacked a firm hand on the rolling and fell apart quite easily. The Pho was good, but I found the stock a bit sweet for my taste. They do get huge kudos for using brisket in the beef cuts for the soup, hands down my favourite cut of beef for Pho. We'll add this to our regular stops now that we've found it.

                  Petit Maroc (Neubaugasse 84)
                  We've walked by this restaurant many times enroute to Phoenixhof and this weekend we decided to drop in. There is absolutely no North African food in Brno so it was a nice treat to have some flavours we have not experienced in quite some time. Their humus was great, although made better when we added some of their hot chilis in olive oil (smokin' hot chilis). I had the grilled lamb kebabs while my SO had the mergez coucous. The kebabs were great, tender and perfectly grilled the mergez was also very good especially as it was not too fatty.

                  This is a great find for those in the area, but if you're going you need to have a reservation for anything after 20:00... it is fairly small and has a very dedicated following based on the packed tables 2 nights in a row.

                  Vulcanothek (Herrengasse 14, in the Ferstal Passage)
                  We've passed this relatively new pork and wine store a couple of times while browsing the Ferstal Passage and always intended to pop in, but didn't manage it until this weekend. We shared a plate of their 15 month aged Rhonshicken, with an aged Stiermark cheese that was very much like Parmigano Regiano, some lardo with black truffle and a little bit of their house spicy gellee. The Rhonshicken was outstanding, not too fatty, not stringy, melt in your mouth goodness... we bought a couple hundred grams to go for home. This place is worth a stop, only 3 small tables inside, a few more out in the Ferstal Passage.

                  Of course being the Christmas season we managed to noodle through the markets, especially the more artisianal market in Karlsplatz and our favourite ones in Freyung and Am Hof.

                  Phoenixhof also got the required visit, it seems there may be new owners... a couple we had not noticed before seemed to be running the show and struggling a bit. One of the waitresses and a person we thought was the owner previously were there but the "old owner" was doing the cooking and was not seen much in front of house. Even with this the schnitzel was still outstanding and absolutely nothing to complain about.

                  We'll be back on NYE for dinner at Glacisbiesl and to enjoy the roaming festivities.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: vanderb

                    Hey Vanderb, I just read through your reports, just a few thoughts:

                    I like Vietthao and visit it quite often (especially for lunch it is a bargain), although the quality of the food is sometimes a bit inconsistent, and service (even though the owner is really nice), is very slow and a bit chaotic, taste varies from fantastic to ok (I love their caramlized pigbelly).

                    For North African (Lebanese) food I´d recommend "Le Cedre", Austellungsstraße 51, 1020 Wien.

                    I loooove their Mezze, they offer a huge choice of different dishes, and I haven´t had a bad one (we usually stick to the Mezzes)

                    If you fancy (authentic) chinese, try "No. 27", Ungargasse 27
                    1030 Wien.

                    1. re: tobiask

                      We tried Le Cedre for lunch a few years ago and found it pretty awful. But it was empty and they might have had their B staff working. Still, it wasn't good. Maybe it's changed...

                      1. re: kukubura

                        that´s odd, I really enjoyed every meal I had there, and by now we ate our way through most of their mezze menu.
                        I´d go there only for their heavenly homemade lamb sausages even if everything else was bad.

                        I´d give it another try...

                  2. Just back from New Year's Eve in Vienna, managed a couple of good dinners while we were there.

                    Levante on Josefstadter Strasse was our choice on Sunday when we found a lot of our usual places were closed for extended holidays. I know there are at least a couple of these places in town and I think they may be associated with the hotel, Levante Parliament, which is a couple of streets away.

                    We had: an order of calamari, nicely cooked, good garlic/yogurt sauce (not tzatziki) and a crisp side salad; Adana kebab in yogurt tomato sauce with bread (similar to Iskender kebab but with Adana kebab; and lamb shish kebab with rice, potatoes and salad. The calamari was average, nothing to rave about, but the kebab main courses were very good... the lamb tender and charcoal grilled, the rice light and fluffy although the potatoes were too much starch in my mind. You will not go hungry here.

                    On NYE we had a reservation at Glacisbeisl and had selected their set menu. We were both very glad we chose the menu, it seemed like a lot of food (and it was), but everything was excellent. We started with a very light vegetable terrine with salad, then clear broth soup with liver dumpling in pastry, then sea bream with olive tapenade crust, then veal two ways (roulade and grilled loin) and finally a very nice dessert with marble ice cream, chocolate pastry and pickled blood oranges. The fish was the highlight, on it's own the olive tapenade crust was very salty and olivy, but when combined with the fish it was a perfect combination to buttery texture of the flesh. If I had to pick the least pleasing dish for me, it was the terrine as my slice was cut a bit thick and I had far more of the jelly (less vegetables), but my SO's cut was not the same and she really enjoyed it all.

                    Great timing on the meal as well, courses were not rushed at all. We got in at 20:00 and out by 22:00 so we could walk to Freyung for a glass of champagne and then over to the Heldenplatz for fireworks.

                    I'll mention breakfast only as it came with our room (Flemmings Deluxe Hotel), normally we'd go to Eisle Kaffehaus on Josefstadter Strasse. Breakfast was an odd affair, I'm used to seeing a buffet table with steamers going, scrambled eggs, bacon, etc... but that was not the case here. There was plenty of fruit, yogurt, cold cuts, cheese and the like but you had to flag a server to get anything else. Given it was New Year's and the hotel was packed to the rafters getting a server was at times impossible. The highlight was the unlimited amount of fresh passion fruit, haven't seen that before and I believe I ate my money's worth.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: vanderb

                      Hello Vanderb,

                      Great to hear that you enjoyed the NYE in Vienna, and that Glacisbeisl did not disappoint you !

                      I would like to add our own experience: We decided to visit the Silvesterpfad area in the morning, before it gets too busy. We arrived in the city before noon and my wife even found a pair of shoes in a closeout sale, which we considered to represent even more luck than buying any of the NYE amulets on sale everywhere could provide.

                      We had booked a table for four at Zum Schwarzen Kameel for 1:30 p.m., and were quite happy that this table was waiting for us in time, which was quite remarkable considering the huge crowd inside the bar area and around the oyster bar in the street. The ladies ordered for starters the "Beinschinken mit Kren" (cooked ham with fresh horseradish), my son-in-law had a smoked fish with scallops and I had smoked oysters on a bed of perl barley and vegetables, surrounded by a fine cream of sauerkraut and with a small spot of caviar. These oysters were just a little bit perfumed by the smoke, but still quite fresh, and the overall combination of tastes was a real sensation.

                      For main course three of us chose the Tafelspitz, our daughter had the Kalbsgulasch mit Nockerln (veal goulash with dumplings). The Tafelspitz was perfect, the Rösti were the best I had ever had. The only minus was that they tried to give us only a single serving of apple-horseradish sauce and of chive sauce. When we asked for a second serving it was brought immediately, but for 27.- Euro I expect to get a separate serving of sauce for each Tafelspitz serving, or a real HUGE pot of each sauce to be shared by all !!

                      Another strange experience was the wine we tried to order. The black camel is famous for its wine list, and has a lot of wines bottled under their own name. So I asked the waiter (there was no sommelier) to recommend us a bottle of Grüner Veltliner of a rather light variety. He decided on one of their own brands of GV and proudly presented the bottle before opening. I do not know why, maybe I have some sort of sixth sense, but I took the bottle out if his hands and turned it around to look for the alcohol content: it was 13 % !!

                      I immediately rejected the bottle and asked whether they had any GV of less than 13%, such as any bottle of "Weinviertel DAC" would have. Great was my astonishement when the waiter told me that they would not serve any "Weinviertel DAC"...

                      This needs some explanation. Austrian wine growers introduced the DAC labelling a few yeas ago, the Weinviertel DAC providing for the first time a platform for higher qualities of Grüner Veltliner (GV), which is the major sort in Austria. Many small growers do now bottle GV in the Weinviertel DAC class, which is also strictly controlled and asures the buyer of a certain kind of dry, fruity wine with 12 to 12.5 % alcohol.
                      There are growers who produce also GV with 11 to 12% alcohol, but these very light wines have to be consumed soon and cannot be stored for a longer time.

                      The waiter gave me the wine list once more, and I found that indeed there were two bottles of the Weinviertel DAC class, but both were sold out. The waiter then asked another waiter for help and together they found two (2) bottles with 12.5% only. We took one of them, a bottle of the Schwarze Kameel line, and found that it was a very agreeable GV, maybe on the sweet side, but OK.

                      Why do I tell this story: I am sure many tourists would also like to have a lighter kind of GV for lunch, and even for dinner we like to start with a bottle of GV with less than 13%, and take a second bottle with 13 or 13.5% for the main course. Usually this is not a problem, most high-end restaurants will have a long list of GV of any alcohol content. Of course, the more expensive bottles usually also have more alcohol, but also can be stored for quite some time, and will maybe provide higher prices the older they are. The low-alcohol class, OTOH, is also of lower price, and might perish before anybody will order them. But a restaurant of this class simply has to take the risk ...

                      Around 3 p.m. we finished our lunch with some espresso and went back home. At this time the city was already filling up. I have never seen such crowds before, and we were quite happy that we had not planned to stay up until midnight !

                      1. re: Sturmi

                        Sturmi, thanks for the details on Zum Schwarzen Kameel, we walk by it often and have discussed going for dinner one night... I will definitely add it to our list.

                        I also appreciate the education on DAC and GV, we have enjoyed several Weinviertel DAC bottles from Mailberg and Poysdorff wineries but I was not aware of the regulations around it. Back home in Canada we have VQA (Vintner's Quality Alliance) and I thought this was similar to DAC but I now understand DAC has gone much further than simply specifying the requirements for the origins of the grapes used. I will keep a sharper eye out for the DAC marking in the future.

                        As for the Silvesterpfad area, it was worse in the afternoon than it was later in the evening, IMO. The afternoon seemed to concentrate people into the pedestrian areas whereas in the night many people were at restaurants, balls, pubs, etc... I'm not saying it wasn't busy, but we found it easier to walk around in the night than the day, except for areas directly in front of the music stages.

                        We were surprised to see the distinct reduction of vendors (food and drink) this year compared to last year. In Freyung last year there were many vendors, including those in the Ferstal Passage who were setup and selling all sorts of drinks and food... this year there were none in the Ferstall and only a few in Freyung. We also noticed the Maria Theresa Christmas market area was completely gone this year, last year there were still vendors on NYE and the Rathaus market was reduced at least by half compared to last year. This didn't really affect our enjoyment too much, but it did surprise us.

                        1. re: vanderb

                          An interesting observation. It seems that generally consumation is down since last year and that many vendors decided they would not make any profit this year...

                          Regarding the Ferstel Passage: we walked through around 3:30 p.m., and found a large crowd outside the French bistro Beaulieu. The bistro had a large table in the passage area selling fresh oysters and half bottles of French champagne. The champagne with two champagne glasses was 22 Euro, quite a bargain. Maybe they had sold everything later this afternoon and went back home...

                          Several media reported that there had been 800 000 at the Silvesterpfad this year, 100 000 more than last year. I wonder how they came up with these numbers...