Where to eat in Vienna?
My husband and I are going to Vienna Sept 29 - Oct 2 (Sat- Tues). Where do you recommend we eat? We have no dietary restrictions and love food!
High-end, Nr. 11 among the 50 Best of the World: Steirereck
Inventive food, from inexpensive to somewhat expensive:
Zum Finsteren Stern
Mraz & Sohn
Altwiener Gastwirtschaft Schilling
Zur Goldenen Kugel
and many, many more
Avoid: the same Viennese food, in the form of very expensive tourist traps:
Zum Weissen Rauchfangkehrer
Do & Co
Demel, definitely the very best !
Aïda (at every second corner)
Italian gelaterias on Tuchlauben, Hoher Markt, Schwedenplatz
Tichy on Reumannplatz
Bitzingers sausage kiosk, between Opera and Albertina
or any other Würstelstand ...
both with several outlets all over town
Brunnenmarkt, Karmelitermarkt, Viktor Adlermarkt, Kutschkermarkt, etc.
Avoid: Naschmarkt, especially on Saturdays.
Any heurigen in the Stammersdorf area
I wouldn't throw a blanket "avoid" on the Naschmarkt! Unless something has changed? It's a must-not-miss activity for visitors, especially food-loving visitors. But, yeah, when the big flea market is out it's a pain. Weekdays are certainly better.
This list is great but overwhelming! I have been to a fraction of those places but feel strongly about the ones that I love. We've got pics from a few here: http://ow.ly/dUQGe and there are a lot of good posts from the past on CH. One tip: When possible try to call in advance. I've had a few experiences (on CH and in real life) where a place that I highly recommended turned out to be unexpectedly closed for someone without warning...
Yes, you are right, this is an overwhelming list. OTOH it is quite convenient to create such a list once in a while, since it forces me to rethink my priorities. And for a general question like the one by Marit522 it is hard to give a more specific answer...
Regarding Naschmarkt: this area is rapidly deterioriating. It was a big surprise when last week two of the better restaurants, both of which were always crowded and defnitely may be called successful, suddenly closed for good: the Vietnamese Pho places By Chi and Pho Saigon. When asked, someone from Pho Saigon just said that the general atmosphere at Naschmarkt did not feel right any more...
Of course, there are still a few great places there. But the majority are just tourist rip-offs. You really have to pick carefully where to buy or where to eat. Recently we had a major disappointment when we bought some cheese at Käseland, which we always thought of as a major stronghold of excellent products. Back home we found that every single piece of cheese we had bought was inedible. Swiss Emmentaler, French Münster and Roquefort as well as some Bergkäse simply had been lying in their shelves for too long and had the same very strong and acid taste. It might have been a hot summer, but they have air conditioning in their shop. Or a lack of customers during the summer months, but this should not be a problem for a seasoned merchant. I guess that it was not just "the summer", it was a general decline in serious customers, and this brings me back to the conclusion that the Naschmarkt, where we have been buying all kind of food for more than 35 years, is no more a place recommended...
Very sad to hear By Chi is gone, that was a staple for our visits to Vienna and was in my mind for a visit because the 3 Vietnamese places in Brno, CZ all burned down recently (they were all co-located).
While I agree the Naschmarkt is really very touristy and quality is not always high I do find the butchers to be pretty good and my all time favourite thing to do at the Naschmarkt is to get a glass of good Gruner Veltliner and people watch on a Saturday afternoon.
Sturmi, is there another markt in central Vienna (or close to central) that has fruit, veg, butchers, cheese, etc... all in one place or at least close to each other?
Getting a glass of Grüner Veltliner will never be the problem, only that this attitude is the cause for the disappearance of "real" marketeers selling fruit, vegetables, fish and meat. There are only very few butchers left on Naschmakrt, most of them only chain outlets. But you are right: meat and fish are the only items you may get there in good quality and for a reasonable price ...
The alternative markets are primarily the Karmelitermarkt,
and the Brunnenmarkt,
but also the Rochusmarkt,
But these are rather small local markets. OTOH going there on Saturdays is quite interesting because of the many farmers coming only on Saturdays. We love to go the the farmers market on Yppenplatz (Brunnenmarkt) on saturday, and then get lunch at the Wetter restaurant, operated by Raetus Wetter, a Swiss chef specializing in authentic Ligurian cuisine. His small menu is Italian only, but the nice waiters help ...
Please keep in mind that there are two kind of markets at Brunnenmarkt. The one Monday to Friday is an extremely low-cost, no-frills market mainly based on products imported from Turkey. You can buy there tomatoes, bell pepers, lemons, chili and green beans, as well as apples, peaches or nuts at ridiculously low prices. There are few cheese merchants, but the cheese is of rather low quality.
On Saturday there is in addition a farmers market on Yppenplatz, which offers a lot of high-quality organic vegetables, some fish from organic aquaculture, and specialties like pickles or home-made pastry.
Wetter is open for lunch only on Saturday, Monday to Friday Wetter opens only at 6 p.m.. OTOH there are quite a few restaurants on Yppenplatz and Brunnengasse which are open for lunch and dinner Monday to Saturday, e.g.the well-known Kent for Turkish cuisine, the An-Do seafood restaurant, the An-Do cafe and a few smaller places along the northern side of the Yppenplatz.
Some Yppenplatz shops are remarkable too: the Staud sells all kinds of jams and marmalades, an the La Salvia is an Italian Delicatessen.
This multicultural scenery is more authentic and more relaxed than on Naschmarkt or Karmelitermarkt. But every Viennese has his favorite market ...
Thanks Sturmi! I knew you'd be a huge help. I've been reading up on other threads on CH and see you're a regular with some great advice. Sorry if my question seemed a bit broad, but we really don't have a lot of restrictions at all. We plan on having at least one NICE meal, and will spread our money around the rest. I truly appreciate your range and how you broke it all down for us!
Vanderb, great tip! I love wine – and people watching is one of my favorite sports. We'll check that out!
Kukubura, I'll check out your pics! Thank you for sharing.
We will be in Prague for 4 days and Munich for 3, now I'm off to research where to go/eat there!
Thank you for your great recommendations and thoughtful reply. Although not the above poster I have considered your advise and I have booked Vestibul for my partner's 40th birthday dinner as well as saved your list above.
Are heurigen year-round operations? We will be in Vienna mid-November but these establishments sound like something we would want to check out - we enjoy trying wines.
The "real" heurigen is open only for a few weeks every year. "year-round" operations are not real heurigen, but theme restaurants operating in the disguise of a heurigen.
What is the difference ?
A real heurigen is a winegrower selling his own wine. He has to work as well in the vineyard as in the wine-cellar, and therefore the license to sell the - limited quantities - of his own wine is also limited.
Therefore each region has his webpage announcing who has open at whch day or week. For Vienna use this link http://www.wienerheurige.at/start.htm
Klick on the Tab called "Suche" = search, and then select one of the many winegrowing regions for the heurigen open on a specific day. Open heurigen are marked in red type.
Alternatively you just take the tram to Stammersdorf and stroll along the main street and the "Kellergasse"...
And yes, there is always an exception the the rule.: Wieninger
Here the year-around restaurant, disguised as heurigen, is operated by the brother of the winegrower...
re: Gypsy Boy
A reservation is always recommended, especially for Rudis Beisl or for Gasthaus Wolf, both of which are quite small and fill up quickly. Usually calling a day ahead or on the same day is sufficient.
BTW: The only places which need reservations a few weeks in advance are now:
Kim kocht (Japanese / Asian fusion), Fabios (ex-Italian, now NeoAustrian) and Mochi (Japanese / Asian fusion). I doubt that you will want to go there...
...and Steirereck. We received a nice e-mail response from the restaurant. We were given a choice of three dates (albeit at 6:30 pm and, sadly for us, in the smoking room--though they offered without our even mentioning it to move us as soon as a vacancy opened in the other room) but even though the choices might not be absolutely ideal, we are still thrilled to be able to get in. I presume reservations this far out (we arrived 22 October) would also be needed at Walter Bauer.
My mistake. I hadn't realized you were confining your answer.
However, a few additional places have come up in my research. Any thoughts (that you wish to share) on any of these places?:
And yet again--many thanks!
re: Gypsy Boy
All these are part of the "and many, many more" part of my Viennese classics list !
what the name says: a theme restaurant operating in an old bakery. Since it exists for more than 40 years, it must have its customers. I have not been there for at least 30 years, but the Topfenstrudel mit Vanillesauce used to be heavenly...
Traditional Viennese cuisine right in the Prater, same quality in the Lusthaus across the street, but the Lusthaus has a more interesting architecture...
Part of a cluster of restaurants run by the Huth family. Huth is the Viennese cuisine restaurant branch, Da Moritz is the Italian branch, and there is also a beisl of the same name. Food is OK, great if you just drop in on you walks through the city, but definitely not worth a detour.
Another Viennese classic. Great beisl cuisine in a convenient location. Used to have a Beisl and a more formal restaurant, but is now just a maze of different rooms with the same food and service.
maybe the most interesting place of your new shortlist. Schnattl is the only one you will have to make a detour for, and is also worth a detour. Schnattl has also been in business for many years and still keeps its quality AND its customers. Schnattl is less of a "beisl" ond more of a "bourgeois restaurant", a category which has been dying out slowly and has now just a few veterans left: Schnattl and Eckel...
BTW: Huth and Plachutta WANT to be like Schnattl or Eckel, but will never succeed...
Wonderful; thank you again for your time and comments.
I spent the weekend working on my list and have a few more for which I'd love to have your comments as well. I'm slowly narrowing down the list, trying to make it workable. Too many wonderful places, too little time! The new list includes:
Die Fromme Helene
St Charles Alimentary
Zu den 3 Hacken
This second group is, I think, likely to be less desirable, but I'm not entirely certain.
Mayer am Pfarrplatz
And finally, it doesn't make sense (to me, anyway) to come to Vienna without rying local specialties. One that I've never had and seems well worth trying, is probably also worth asking for a specific recommendation for: beuschel.
I'll try to stop inundating you with lists but since we have so little time, I don't want to waste any of it!
re: Gypsy Boy
Both these lists do not contain any real special places, overall it seems a little bit outdated, a left over from the 1980s...
I will try to give detailed answers:
Altwienerhof: used to be one of the best in town, until the chef Rudi Kellner died. Now it is just another tourist location, providing the usual Viennese classics. Nice if you stay at their hotel, otherwise not worth the detour.
Die Fromme Helene: an old classic, recently relocated. The menu is large and unimpressive.
Gasthaus Wild: one of the first of the "new beisl scene", now the food is not worth the price. Again: if you stay in their neighboorhood, it is OK, but not worth a detour.
Hietzinger Brau: again the same. The first location of the Plachutta chain of boiled beef places, it offers regular Viennese classics at rather high price levels.
Kern's Beisl : nice small beisl in the inner city. Recommended.
Restaurant Salzamt: core of the "bermuda dreieck" bar area. You do not want to go there for dinner. Never. This is the area for teenage binge drinking groups...
St Charles Alimentary: a wonderful very small - a real hole in the wall - place for self found vegetables prepared in an inventive way.
Vikerl's Lokal: This place has changed its proprietors twice. Now it is just another Viennese restaurant, far away from former glory. Its famous chef Bittermann is now working in Göttlesbrunn, his new place is worth the trip: http://www.bittermann-vinarium.at
Zu den 3 Hacken: Just another beisl, nothing special.
Gösser Bierklinik : if you like beer and pork knuckles and Schweizerhaus is closed. Because of its size and location, you might go there for lunch, which is quite inexpensive for the dish of the day: http://www.goesser-bierklinik.at/down...
Mayer am Pfarrplatz: great old heurigen, now operated by one of our retired advertizing tycoons. It is one more restaurant disguised as a heurigen, but wine and food is of acceptable quality, and the location is authentic..
Melker Stiftskeller: Just like Gösser bierklinik, only less centrally located.
Silberwirt: one of Gergely´s chain restaurants. Great for fighting hunger if you are hungry and are nearby, but nothing special.
In summary, only Kern´s Beisl, Charles Alimentary and Mayer am Pfarrplatz seem worth considering.
And now to your Beuschl request: Beuschl is very popular and will be served even at Steirereck. The best beuschl is nowadays served at Gasthaus Wolf in 4., Große Neugasse. Reservation required.
I think I have made progress (probably just self-delusion). In any event, my thoughts are these. For our lunches, Bitzingers (or should I save this for a snack and choose somewhere else?), Gasthaus Reinthaler, Gasthaus Poschl, and then I can't decide between Haas Beisl or Shnattl? (We're going to Melk one day and so will have lunch somewhere else...Krems, Durnstein....)
For dinner, Steirereck, Rudi's Beisl, Gmoakeller, and Phonixhof. Then, I am uncertain which two to choose among Eisvogel, Meixner’s, Artner auf der Wieden, and or Restaurant Eckel (or perhaps Freyenstein).
And somehow in the midst of all this--at the very least--I owe Sturmi (and Mrs. Sturmi) a drink for all your help!
re: Gypsy Boy
Bitzinger is just a street kiosk with hot sausages, hot dogs and "Leberkäse". Great for a quick bite before or after opera or museum visits. It is more snack than lunch...
Haas Beisl is a real down-to-earth beisl, smelling just like an old pub should, but the food is excellent, the new cook knows how to prepare all the classics. The same is true for Gasthaus Reinthaler.
Schnattl and Rudis´s Beisl are "edelbeisl". The interior might be the same as Haas Beisl, but everything is clean, tables are nicely set, service is friendly and helpful.
Gasthaus Pöschl is right in between, it is an old winehouse converted by a renowned architect into a "new beisl" many years ago, and now has the patina it deserves. Food is beisl classics, I prefer the "Naturschnitzel mit Reis".
Regarding dinner I would prefer Meixner over Gmoakeller and definitely would recommed Eckel. It is located somewhat in the periphery of town, but its ambiente, its service and its menu breathe Old Vienna. No other place like this left ...
At Eckel the "Kalbsnierenbraten mit Reis" is the signature dish. It is a veal roast cut in a way that it is including the kidney and its fat. To die for...
Their starters are also wonderful, and the sorbets to close the meal are remarkable in their fruitiness...
All these places are very popular, reservation required one or two days ahead, in the case of Eckel and Rudi´s Beisl maybe even a week ahead.
And yes, it is Mr.Sturmi (but Mrs. Sturmi sends her regards, she reads my writings and agrees with what I recommend !)
It was amazing! We are enjoying one last day in Prague before we head home to San Francisco. We absolutely loved Vienna, we were just talking tonight how we had the best food there. Our favorite meals were at Wratschko and Cafe Phonixof. We loved the coffee at Sperl and pastries at Demel too. Thank you do much everyone for the great suggestions.
I've been searching for Prague tips on CH but there aren't as many! I'll have to add to the threads with our finds.
There's a lot about Prague on CH. Lokal is a place that many love for traditional food in a modern setting. U Zlateho Tygra is mega-traditional, although tough to get a seat. There are many solid places, although I have a feeling with the time difference you're done with your day... Feel free to expand on what you had when your trip is all done!
Oh, well then hopefully you'll have time for U Zlateho Tygra. It's ornery and you may have to wait, but the beer is amazing, the tartare is amazing, and the atmosphere is pure Prague.
The brew pub in the Strahov monastery (Klasterni Pivovar or whatever) is great too.
If you want to sip a carafe of Movarian wine with an amazing view there's a self-serve wine bar near the castle called Wenceslas Winery or something which is really beautiful and looks out over the entire city.
Also, a less touristy location for views and brews is the big outdoor beer garden in the Visherhad (totally butchered the spelling) park a couple of metro stops south of Wenceslas square. And don't forget to finish out the night with some sausages on the square...
I didn't see it on the original list, but Entler was really great. I think it's ranked extremely high on TripAdvisor, which is how we learned of it, and the food was excellent - inventive-ish, affordable.
We were unimpressed by the food & service at Beim Czaak. OK, but forgettable.
I've read through several of your posts (kukubura as well) and I've printed out a couple of your posts as a guide. The passion of for food and Vienna from which you write is wonderful. I loved the pictures and write up of the meal you had on the train returning from Switzerland...it was Switzerland wasn't it?
My wife and I actually arrive from the U.S. this coming Sunday afternoon (16th) and are out on Wednesday morning (19th) so we'll narrow the list down to 3 dinner and 2 lunch spots. We'll call it "3 days in Vienna...Dining with Sturmi" We (I) love food and wine so we are looking forward to the visit.
We are staying near Schwartzenergplatz (Schubertring) so we'll take in a few museum's, the markets and the Riding School to make room for the next meal.
On the list are: Griechenbeisl; Fabio's; Steirereck (did you say you need reservations here), Vestibul and Edelhof but we are not ruling out "dropping in" to a local place as we pass bye.
Thank you for all your postings...your comments are welcome.
Please keep in mind that the places you mention are from quite different categories:
Griechenbeisl is a traditional restaurant mainly frequented by tourists, but it is NO tourist trap due to a quite honest offer of traditional Viennese dishes. Nothing special, but worth the money if you find a nice table.
Fabio´s is an Italian watering hole of the chic and trendy. The main point is being seen there, not the food, although the food is acceptable (but quite expensive). We rather go to Cantina - Osteria Friulana (open Monday to Friday 2 p.m. to 11 p.m. on 1., Bartensteingasse 3) http://www.cantinafriulana.at
Steirereck is one of the worlds top 20. The best high-end cuisine you can get in town, although presented in an ambiente of questionable taste. The food is worth the aberration in architecture. Reservation a few weeks ahead a must, you might now just get a table for lunch...
Vestibul, OTOH, has the correct ambiente and excellent cuisine, more traditional then Steirereck but worth every cent.
Edelhof is our neighborhood eatery. It offers now classic Viennese food, and always has a table ready waiting for you. You might even meet us there, because we live nearby. Quite agreeable value for you money, but really too far away if you stay close to Schwarzenbergplatz. You might rather take the short walk and visit Gmoakeller (closed Sunday) to sample authentic beisl cuisine !!
If you are in town Sunday to Wednesday forget the markets. The markets are only interesting Friday and Sunday. Rather go to one of the beisl close to you: Gasthaus Pöschl on Weihburggasse, Gasthaus Wolf on Grosse Neugasse, or Gmoakeller...
Reservations required everywhere !!! This time is the busiest time of the year !!
Great, thank you. Griechenbeisl is back on the table...Fabio is probably out...don't need to be seen. We'll check out Osteria Friulana. Additionally, we'll add to the conversation Poschl, Wolf or GmoaKeller. Stick with Vestibul if reservations come through and Steirereck stays in but don't look at the decor. ;-)
Thank you again, so looking forward to it. We may still get out to Edelhof if we get time.
My GF and I celebrated her 40th birthday at Vestibul and it was all that I could have wanted - Beautiful space, Wonderful service and Great Food. We made the mistake of not leaving before the post-theater crowd came in so it took awhile to pay but we didn't' have anywhere to be. I would highly recommend this restaurant. I thought it was the perfect choice especially for my non-pork or beef easting GF and at $300 including tip for 2 glass of champagne, 1 bottle of wine, 2 apps, 2 main, 2 desserts, Schnapps and coffee it was a great value too.
Thanks for the tip Sturmi!
I am several months remiss in posting on a series of places we visited while in Vienna a couple months ago. (I will report on our single high-end splurge meal at Steirereck soon.) There are simply too many good pics to post here so for those who are interested, get thee to flickr. My pics of this trip are posted under the name "Gypsy Boy2." Thanks are in order to all here, but most especially Sturmi. If we didn't make it to everywhere we intended, it's only because we couldn't figure out how to create 48 hour days!
Might as well start off with the top of the pack:
A very interesting evening. We had a 8 pm reservation and walked in about 7:50 pm to find the place jammed. It seemed like a neighborhood place, par excellence. Everyone seemed to know everyone and the tiny staff as well. The place is very small and very crowded but has a very gemütlich feel. In any event, the woman behind the counter—who seemed at that point to be the most harried person on the face of the earth—asked what we wanted. I said we had reservations for 8. “It’s not 8 yet!” she snapped and went about her business. A lovely first impression. Shortly after 8, as if on cue, there was a massive turnover and about half of the people who had been eating got up and left. We were seated and, sure enough, within the next five minutes, the place filled up again. If there were other tourists, they fooled me. It seemed almost exclusively populated by regulars who knew the brusque maitre d’/server/busboy or Rudi himself. From time to time, Rudi emerged from a kitchen the size of a small closet and visited with someone he knew before returning to the kitchen.
Though our first impression was far from pleasant, we decided to make the best of it and be as kind as possible to our sour server. And it paid off. While she never become sweet—she seemed absolutely determined to be as upset as possible by everything that happened—she did become much more pleasant to deal with.
The food? Glad you asked.
We started with a ravioli; sadly, having waited this long, and despite the picture, we can’t recall what was inside. But we both recall the dish very fondly. We loved it and, had our main courses been less filling, we might have wished for more. A wonderful app and a wonderful way to whet our appetites.
I chose the goose “special” for St. Martin’s Day. Indeed, probably three-fourths of the plates emerging from the kitchen featured the goose. With the added semmelknödel (a “crackling” dumpling) and boiled potato, the plate must have easily weighed several pounds. Goose, dumpling, potato, red cabbage, sauerkraut. (My first thought on seeing it was “Omigod, that portion is HUGE!) Perfect. Well, okay, truth be told, I’ve had better sauerkraut. Can’t imagine the prepared any better and by the time we left, I was pretty much reduced to waddling out.
The Lovely Dining Companion opted for Beinfleisch mit rösti, a braised leg of beef (if I understood correctly) with what amounts to a potato pancake. In a word: superb, both the beef and the pancake. The beef was accompanied by a small cup of horseradish cream sauce and another of stewed apples. LDC is not particularly a big meat eater, though not a vegetarian. But she was unstinting in her praises. If I hadn’t had all I could handle (and more), I would have tasted hers, but….
Dessert. Curiously, the online menu doesn’t include desserts; my memory is that we were handed a separate card after the meal. I’m not 100% certain but based on the photograph, am fairly sure that this is/was zwetschkenkuchen, meaning that plums were hiding under what appears to the eye. Regardless, our memories coincide: superb. Our only regret was that our appetites were limited by our stomachs’ capacity. Likely our best meal in Vienna. Just wonderful all the way around. After walking out into the very cool night air—a pleasure after the smoke, warmth, and coziness of the room—Rudi himself came out for a smoke. Though we were very limited by my poor German and his poor English, we managed to convey (I surely hope), our enormous pleasure with the meal and he graciously offered that he would be pleased to welcome us again on our next visit to Vienna.
About 1 pm, we happened to be passing by and, having not had lunch yet, dropped in. A very unpretentious, un-gemütlich place. The kind of place where busy people drop in for lunch and then go on about their day. Again, like Rudi’s, it seemed largely populated by regulars, or at least locals with few tourists. Though we walked in without a reservation, the kind server took pity on us and decided she could squeeze us into a booth in the back. We are so grateful she did. I have no bill so we are reduced to guessing based on my pictures.
We each began with soup, but although I have no photo of LDC’s. She ordered Griessnockerlsuppe, or a beef broth with semolina dumplings and mine was a Rindsuppe mit frittaten (beef soup with what is variously described as shredded pancakes or shredded crepes). Lovely.
Then, inasmuch as we were in Vienna, how could I not have one of their renowned dishes, no, not Wiener Schnitzel, but Fledermaus? (Although the word mean ‘bat’—as in the flying creature—it’s given that name because the meat—pork—is cut in such a way as to resemble a bat. It’s then deep-fried, much like Wiener Schnitzel and served with lemon.) Given the “authenticity” of the place, it seemed like a good bet here. And it was. It was also served with a side of something I’d never seen before (but which I would have again, as mentioned below): fresh watercress piled atop warm potato salad. As it happens, I enjoy watercress and the sharpness of the greens complemented the warm sweetness of the potato salad and the perfectly fried cutlet. A winner.
Smoky. But absolutely lovely. Very busy, packed, constant foot traffic between a warren of smaller rooms, cramped, but it still smacked (to us, anyway) of “old Vienna,” atmospheric, a lovely menu and packed. Tourists, locals, young people, old people—truly a place filled with everyone. Thank God we had a reservation! Not the kind of place we would have expected where a reservation might be needed but it was clearly absolutely essential.
We ordered basically the same dish, mine was smoked and the LDC’s wasn’t. Since the two entrees were essentially the same, I merely loaded her piece of meat onto my plate for this picture; the sides were identical: semmelknödel (bread dumpling—easily the size of my fist in this case) and sauerkraut…. There really isn’t a whole lot to report except that, crowded as it was, hectic as it was, it was a wonderful, wonderful meal. We enjoyed it quite a bit—sort of like having your Vienne grandma cook for you—and would happily return.
A large, relatively spacious place that bustled with activity on a weeknight. While it was comfortable and completely unpretentious, we didn’t get the same cozy, welcoming vibe that we got at the other places listed here. Our server was fine but much more business-like as well; helpful, but didn’t go out of his way to offer any assistance. The food was, once again, very good. We began by splitting an order of cheese spätzle which, as the picture illustrates, looks for all the world, like mac and cheese with other things. Which, on reflection, I suppose it is. Regardless of the name, though, it was savory (in both sense of the word) and we quite enjoyed it.
For dinner, the LDC chose a pumpkin strudel and I went with an old Viennese classic, Zwiebelrostbraten (zwiebel being the word for onion). Although we knew that apricots are very big in Austria, we hadn’t realized how big pumpkin is—from its use as a vegetable to its ubiquitous use as pumpkinseed oil. Learn something new every day. In the event, the LDC pronounced herself quite happy with this savory version. I didn’t taste it (I was a little concerned about the amount of food appearing on my platter) and so can only report her happiness.
Although not as famous as Wiener Schnitzel, zwiebelrostbraten is a Viennese classic just as well-known and just as beloved. And with good reason. It may be cut from a rib roast, it may be sirloin—“authorities” differ. (A literal translation would be “onion[-topped] roast beef.”) What they do agree on, though, is that it is always topped with fried onions. Sides vary but the classic is bratkartoffeln or pan-fried potatoes; spätzle and bread dumplings are also popular; as the picture shows, I got roasted potatoes and gherkins. If you like meat and potatoes, this is as basic and as classic as it comes and Zum Leupold’s version was a fine exemplar. We chose to skip dessert in order to have it on the way back to our hotel—and so my report on Zum Leupold ends on this upbeat note.
I’ll concede right up front that we were warned. This is one of a series of places owned by the same family, ranging from the more “downmarket” to this, the most “upmarket” of their places. For a number of reasons—most of which we had no control over—we ended up here, cautions notwithstanding. (I should note that the cautions were not to avoid the place because the food or service were lousy. Just that there was nothing particularly special about it.) The interior is lovely: modern, a bit…um…spartan, but quite lovely in its way. No complaints about quality or service. It just never quite seemed to all come together.
I began with grammelknödel, a potato dumpling filled with bits of bacon and garlic. As we were leaving the next day and I’d somehow not managed to have it yet, I decided to go with the Wiener Schnitzel; the LDC had saibling, a variety of trout. (Technically, forelle is trout; saibling is usually translated as “salmon trout.”)
The schnitzel was fine (the picture wasn’t). Very nice piece of veal, perfectly fried. Accompanied by the second appearance of this salad. Huth does specifically note on their menu that their schnitzel is made from veal since pork is a common substitute. The sole “accompaniment” is a hunk of lemon and the salad.
As you can see, the presentation was lovely, pan-fried and served over a risotto that included pumpkin and pumpkinseeds. I can only report that the LDC must have enjoyed it quite a bit as, size of the portion notwithstanding, it all managed to disappear!
Dessert: eisknodel, an ice-cream dumpling filled with an intensely fruity apricot jam.
Oooh. What’s not to like here. My description above tells you all you really need to know except, should you harbor any residual doubt, I will tell you that the dish was executed perfectly. I was a little concerned that we only had two “pieces,” but it was precisely the right amount. The ice cream was very good, but it really took a back seat to the apricot filling. Austrians are very proud—and rightly so—of their native apricots. They appear on menus everywhere and in all ways. They’re popular as a basis for schnapps and other liquors as well. And the filling here was luscious, intense, and just about perfect. Wonderful way to end the meal.
VARIOUS AND MISCELLANEOUS
Tried to get into breakfast without a reservation at Haas & Haas; despite some two-thirds of the tables being unoccupied, we were turned away. It still seems unlikely to me that all the empty (presumably reserved) tables would be filled within 30 minutes, but nothing could sway them. Instead, we ended up at the buffet brunch in the Hotel am Stephansplatz. I had read somewhere that it was quite good. My memory was wrong. It has a nice view across St. Stephan’s across the way. But the food was unexceptional in every way (except price). Nothing bad, just no particular reason to go.
A few other notes. Demel is a classic; Demel is a tourist trap. Demel is overrated. Demel is expensive. I will say only this: it’s famous for a reason. We put up with a moderate wait (less than 30 minutes) and snagged a table upstairs. Wow. Sadly, I decided that we were there to play tourist, to enjoy, and nothing else. Not even to document. And so there aren’t any pictures from Demel. Damn! Guess you’ll just have to trust me that the food was terrific. (It’s the one receipt I can’t find and although I loved my dish, the LDC says that she was disappointed.) Other cafes: we both liked Café Museum; we both agreed we could do without Café Central. Too glitzy, touristy, fancy-shmancy. We made it to a number of coffeehouses. My favorite turned out to be the one I loved on my last visit, some twenty-plus years ago: Tirolerhof. I don’t think a single thing moved or changed in any way. Old-fashioned to a fault, but lovely. A special note on the desserts we had at Café Prückel, right across the street from the MAK (applied art museum) and on the Dr. Karl Lueger Platz for any students of history out there. (Sorry for the phone pics; the “real” cameras were back the hotel.) I chose Waldviertler Erdäpfelnudeln and the LDC went with the Griess-schmarrn.
I truly had no idea what to expect with mine. If you really concentrated very hard and focused to the exclusion of enjoying the food, you might have guessed that it was not a pasta dish. I’d never heard of it, though the server assured me it was very well-known and very popular. It was stellar. Very filling but absolutely stellar. The LDC’s was likewise a hit, even if it weighed in at a pound or two. (FWIW, schmarrn doesn’t really mean “trash.” A somewhat more accurate translation would be a trifle, something easily tossed off; other versions of schmarrn exist, the best known of which is Kaiserschmarrn. And while we’re at it, griess generally refers to a specific size of milled flour…think semolina.)
And of course, I’m leaving a bunch out that fell in the middle somewhere.
I saw many recommendations before we left for a little würstl stand near the Albertina—the Bitzinger Würstlstand. The only visit we were able to squeeze in, very sadly, made clear why. It’s really a large food cart and we never, ever passed it—regardless of time of day—without seeing a line. If you’re in Vienna, go. That’s all I need say.