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Apr 20, 2012 04:19 PM

Vienna and Wachau (Danube) Report

Here's my report from early April 2012 starting with the Wachau (Danube Valley 1 hr N of Vienna). We had many fine meals and only a few disappointments:
Weingut Nigl was the star of the trip to Austria! I recommend this casual/rustic yet elegant restaurant/inn/winery to any foodie. The food and wine pairings were delicious. Prices were reasonable: e.g. wiener schnitzel 16.5 E (and superior to Meierei’s wiener schnitzel), soups 4.5, lachsforelle 19.5. Extensive menu with prix fixe or ala carte options. We were surprised that even their Pinot Noir was wonderful since the area is noted for its whites. Normally, I'm not too keen on dessert wines but we had to bring home a divine 2006 Trockenbeerenauslese Riesling and some jams (bubble wrapped for us). The other diners we spoke to were German Bavarians who have vacationed there previously and said their breakfasts (and rooms) were fantastic. Nigl is located about 20 mins N of Krems in the village of Senftenberg. At night the castle ruins above the winery are illuminated-breathtaking! You would need a car if staying there.

Breakfast at the inn Raffelsberger Hof in the little village of Weissenkirchen was also good and the inn very cozy and nice but if we return, I'd stay at Nigl. Unfortunately, we didn't get to Landhaus Bacher.
Restaurant Heinzle outside of Weissenkirchen- outstanding fish, wine selection, views and good service.
Restaurant Hotel Alte Post in Krems was one of the culinary highlights of our trip-(trip advisor recommendation) delicious Austrian food and a cozy atmosphere- my son loved the Tafelspitz (boiled beef). I thought the cheese spatzle was divine.
Krems fish vendor at the riverfront smoking fish over an open wood fire- tasty!
Our one disappointing meal in the Wachau was in Durnstein- unable to immediately find Sanger Blondel or another trip advisor recommended spot, the kids insisted we go to a restaurant on the main drag full of German speaking diners- it was dreadful! (Austrian cuisine)- not sure of the name.
Restaurant Jamek near Weissenkirchen is unfortunately closed on wkends.
Marcus Weiser shops that are all over the Wachau have good prepared stuff for gifts but look for homemade apricot jam -available in many villages- which are even better. Visiting this area during apricot season or the grape harvest would be amazing.

Asian: Patara Thai- delicious food and packed with locals even on a weeknight- reservations needed -many were turned away. We would return here.
Indochine 21- had a good but heavy lunch here- “homemade ramen noodles” with a choice of sauces: Thai, Indonesian, Vietnamese. My only criticism was that the noodle dish was so rich, could have easily been split between 3 diners. Also, since the chef is Vietnamese(?) we should have ordered the Vietnamese sauce (although Thai and Indonesian were good).
Italian: Cantinetta Antinori was a bit of a disappointment but had a convenient location adjacent to our hotel. Beautiful atmosphere and good service. Warm octopus salad did not taste fresh. Risotto with lamb was odd and risotto undercooked. Seafood linguine, wine selection and bread were excellent.
Restaurant Da Capo- fabulous pizzas and pretty good salads. Great, cozy atmosphere. The American Bar is almost next door. We would gladly return to Da Capo.
Wein & Co: lively atmosphere and tasty Italian sandwiches.
Austrian: Meierei im Stadtpark (top floor is the famous Steierereck) – wonderful, peaceful setting in the park overlooking the river- especially nice on a sunny, warm day if outdoor tables available. Service was extremely slow (it took almost an hr just to get a menu!) Allow 3 hrs for lunch. Excellent food but a bit pricey for lunch – we spent over $50 pp.
Hotel am Stephansplatz breakfast- excellent.
Hilton Vienna- left early so couldn’t sample breakfast. Dinner was quite poor- we were too tired to go out so ate at the hotel. Delicious Mediterranean style salads but entrees were very poor. Tafelspitz (boiled beef) was mediocre. Asian vegetable and rice entrée had to be sent back- too salty. Not a good location/district for foodies but convenient 24 hr Sixt car rental location. Next time we’ll return to Hotel am Stephansplatz or Hotel von Ungarn- both in the historic district.
Viennese Coffee shops: great atmosphere and not to be missed but Starbucks generally has better coffee!
Café Sperl in 6th district: warm apple strudel with vanilla cream sauce was outstanding but my daughter claims she’s had better!
Hotel Imperial Café: apple strudel not nearly as good as the Sperl’s. Formal but friendly atmosphere.
Overall, a great trip. Thanks everyone for your help.

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  1. Thank you very much for your detailed report !!

    Your observation about the poor coffee in Viennese Kaffeehäuser is quite true. OTOH you have to consider that these places are NOT for drinking coffee, but rather for spending the day. They are a kind of social institutions, and decided a long time ago to forfeit on the quality of the coffee in order to stay profitable...

    Good coffee is available in espresso bars and - gelaterias !! Most of the gelaterias in town are operated by Italian families. Not migrants from Italy, but families from the Trento region who come into town only for the summer season and return home in early October. And there you can get not only wonderful freshly prepared icecream, but also good Italian espresso, macchiato, cappucino, caffe latte, corretto, affogato etc....

    No need to get the abominable expensive black brew they call "coffee" at Starbucks !

    There are also a few roasters in town, such as Alt Wien on Schleifmühlgasse. But most of these are outside the areas a tourist would visit.

    And back to the Hotel Hilton: there is an Asian restaurant right in the passageway behind the hotel. The Damoa serves great Thai and Korean food as well as sushi, a good alternative to the boring food inside the hotel...

    4 Replies
    1. re: Sturmi

      Thanks Sturmi for your comments- I'll pass the coffee tip on to my daughter. Of course Starbucks in the US have horrible pastries and I imagine Austrian Starbucks pastries are equally poor?

      I thought of you at the Hilton. After we ate the mediocre meal, we walked outside the hotel to find an ATM and I saw Damoa! I thought "darn! I think Sturmi had recommended that place- if only we had known it was steps away!" I was also confused about Damoa vs Gmoa because my Time Out guidebook listed Gmoa Keller in the 3rd district. So I thought I was mixed up- that you hadn't recommended an Asian near the Hilton :)

      1. re: anonj

        Gmoakeller is also only a few steps away, but closed on sundays and holidays...

        And yes, I have recommended Damoa before. But usually I only recommend Asian places on request, since I am of the opinion that the Asian places here in town are just average, only a very few, such as Zum kaiserlichen Thron in Andreasgasse, are worth a detour...

        We like Damoa because it is a. open everday until 10:30 p.m. and b. close to the Village Cinemas center, which is on top of the Thalia bookstore, which is remarkable because of its unusual opening hours due to its proximity to the Wien-Mitte train station: open everyday until 9 p.m. We usually combine a visit to the movies with a trip to the bookstore and a late thai food dinner at Damoa !

        1. re: Sturmi

          I'm going to pass the movie/Damoa idea on to my daughter. Thank you!

          1. re: anonj

            I wanted to report on the experience my daughter had at Winery/Restaurant/Inn Jamek in the Wachau: fantastic! The rooms/lodging aren't mentioned on their English language website but there are some new, deluxe apartments in the middle of their vineyards- to get to breakfast in the morning you have to walk about 10 mins to the main bldg. She said breakfast was excellent but unfortunately Jamek's evening dining hours are limited so they didn't get to try dinner. She had another delicious meal at Winery Nigl. If we go to this area again we'll stay at Jamek and have dinner there as well!