Vienna: Imperial pleasure

comments Comments (6)
27 November 2008
  • Outside Kleines Cafe, ViennaDo and Co, ViennaDemel Konditorei, ViennaSteirereck im Stadtpark, bread, Vienna

Magnificent palaces and museums draw visitors to the Austrian capital, but for the Viennese, “culture” involves serious devotion to food and drink.

Vienna is a grand imperial city. All it lacks is an empire. Domains that once stretched from Spain to the Russian border ceased to be Austrian decades ago, leaving modern Vienna as the capital of a small landlocked country in central Europe.

It’s also a city where it is quite possible to enjoy five meals a day. First, a leisurely breakfast at a coffeehouse; then a gabelfrühstück (fork breakfast), which is a kind of “elevenses” as the Hobbits say, involving some morsels of tasty offal or sausage; a capacious lunch; a jause (snack) at teatime, usually consisting of rich pastries at a konditorei; and finally dinner. If you’re still feeling peckish, you are rarely more than 100m away from a würstlstand (sausage stall).

Of course, gorging on this scale is not compulsory, although the Viennese capacity for doing so is remarkable. The choice of liquid refreshment is also vast. Excellent coffee, first brought here in the 16th century by invading Turks, is available everywhere, and wine cellars are scattered both among the vineyards within the city limits and in the city centre. To cater to this great appetite, the Austrians developed the coffeehouse, usually rooms with comfortable banquettes and  newspapers; you can linger for hours. The larger coffeehouses serve food, too.

The Viennese are also devoted to their beisl, or local inn, where the atmosphere is cosy, the food Austrian, the portions generous and prices low. Traditional Viennese cooking reflects an imperial past: the  schnitzel is of north Italian origin, while dumplings are Bohemian.

On the city fringes, 700ha of vineyards produce mostly white wines. Since 1784 growers have been allowed to sell their wines at their own inns (heurigen) along with self-produced food. There’s no better way to spend a warm summer evening than snacking and drinking at a favourite heurige. An autumnal specialty is sturm, cloudy and still fermenting young wine. The grape varieties you are likely to find include grüner veltliner, welschriesling, riesling, chardonnay, weissburgunder (pinot blanc), and local reds zweigelt and St Laurent. But the real Viennese specialty is gemischter satz, made from a field blend; this is how vineyards were planted 50 years ago, so many of these wines are made from old vines.

But beware: not all heurigen are authentic. Many, especially in famous villages such as Grinzing, are no more than restaurants catering to bus-loads of thirsty tourists. All the heurigen mentioned here are genuine: serving good wines and home-cooked food. You can order glasses or mugs of open, quaffable wine, or of better-quality bottled wines, which are usually worth the extra cost.

Stay

Do & Co
12 Stephansplatz.

Hotel Rathaus (Wein & Design)
13 Lange Gasse

MyPlace
3 Vorlaufstrasse.

Palais Coburg
4 Coburgbastei.

The Ring
8 Kärntner Ring.

Das Triest
12 Wiedner Hauptstrasse.

Eat

Gmoakeller
25 Am Heumarkt.
+43 1 712 5310.


MAK (Museum Angewandte Kunst)
5 Stubenring.
+43 1 714 0121.


Meinl am Graben
19 Graben.
+43 1 532 3334.


Naschmarkt

Ofenloch
8 Kurrentgasse.
+43 1 533 8844.


Pfarrwirt
5 Pfarrplatz, Heiligenstadt.
+43 1 370 7373.


Schnattl
40 Lange Gasse.
+43 1 405 3400.


Seidl
63 Ungargasse.
+43 1 713 1781.


Steirereck im Stadtpark
2 Am Heumarkt.
+43 1 713 3168.


Vestibül
2 Dr Karl Lueger Ring.
+43 1 532 4999.


Zum Schwarzen Kameel
5 Bognergasse.
+43 1 533 8125.

Cafes

Cafe Central
17 Herrengasse.
+43 1 5333 76426.


Café Landtmann
4 Dr Karl Lueger Ring.
+43 1 524 1000.


Cafe Museum
7 Operngasse.
+43 1 586 5202.


Café Prückel
4 Stubenring.
+43 1 512 6115.

Konditorei

Demel
Kohlmarkt 14.
+43 1 535 1717.

Drink

Christ
10-14 Amtstrasse.
+43 1 292 5152.


Mayer am Pfarrplatz
2 Pfarrplatz 2.
+43 1 370 3361.


Theatercafe
6 Linke Wienzeile.

Vis-a-Vis
5 Wollzeile.

Wein & Co
Various locations

Wieninger
78-80 Stammersdorferstrasse.
+43 1 292 4106.


Zahel
9 Maurer Hauptplatz.
+43 1 889 1318.

Source: Qantas The Australian Way December 2008

Stephen Brook

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  • Comments
    Showing 6 of 6 comments
  • One of my favourite experiences in Vienna, well in all of Europe actually, was walking up the hill at the Schonbrunn palace, sitting at the cafe there and enjoying a delicious latte. The views of the city and the Alps weren't so bad either!
  • My cousin had his honeymoon in Vienna and it was beautifully timed to coincide with New Years Eve. He said one of the most romantic experiences he's ever had was watching the streets fill with people doing the Viennese Waltz at midnight. Amazing.
  • The Schonbrunn palace is a great place to run around early in the morning. There are many tracks and some great hills up the back behind the cafe near the zoo. Also the cafe is not bad for a cafe or tea on a Sunday morning. gates open nice and early around 630 in winter so even though it is dark you can still get in an run and escape the traffic. Problem with Vienna is people smoke everywhere and it is impossible to get into a place to eat that is smoke free.
  • Vienna is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, and also one of the cleanest. The Austrians know how to treat visitors to their country and walking around Vienna is so easy. Transport is also easy, so many trams - it has 3 different kinds. I have been there twice and would go back tomorrow for more schnitzel and sachertorte.
  • Vienna is my favourite city worldwide. I have been to Vienna many times. The highlight of my last visit was staying at the Sacher Hotel and having a sacher torte & coffee, amongst other things. Other highlights have been attending concerts at the Staatsoper. I would visit Vienna every year, if I could afford it.....
  • The seventh floor of the Holiday Inn in Key West must be one of the best spots to watch the sun set over the Carribean Sea. This floor is completely open and has a great bar where one can purchase a suitable cocktail (eg a Long Island White Tea) or whatever as the sun sets majestically in the west.

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