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We’re travelling to Vienna to explore its culinary delights. Why? Because the MEININGER Hotel Vienna Central Station is being redesigned. We want to implement the theme “A culinary journey around Vienna” there. To this purpose, we can eat all we want for two days in a row – but not just anything. By the way, “we” are: Clemens, the tour guide; Daniel, behind the camera; and Markus with a pen and ears at the ready.
Vienna’s well-known culinary highlights are published in most travel guides, and we have already published a map with the tips we’ve received from the locals – of course it’s available in the hotel. We set off to meet my good friend Clemens. For years, he has been collecting the latest restaurant tips and maintaining his own guide to Vienna for his friends. He knows all about the trendy culinary locations.
The sun is shining and it’s 20 °C when we hire our bicycles from the MEININGER hotel. These KTM bikes are the best hired bicycles I have ever had. I’d even go so far as to say they’re better than my own. We highly recommend riding bicycles in Vienna. There are cycle paths almost everywhere and you can get on quickly in the city.
Our first stop is Ferrari Gelato at 9 Krugerstrasse. To get there, we meet at the opera and go a little way along Kärnter Str. (Vienna’s high street) until we arrive at the small side street. The ice cream there is delicious and is organic from top to toe. In Vienna, you select the cup size. From €2.20 onward, you can combine flavours. And the flavours are so unusual there that you’ll want to try quite a few of them. My personal ice cream test flavour is Crema Matteo: mascarpone cream with caramelised pine nuts and natural chocolate. 120 points. 100 for the taste and 20 bonus points for environmental friendliness. If you want to be taken for a local, you order your ice cream in a ‘Stanitzl’. What is that? Try it and see – or look up the word in our small glossary at the bottom of the page.
Zum Gschupftn Ferdl
In the evening we want to go to a ‘Heurige’, a local wine garden, because it is storm season. In Vienna, ‘storm’ is what they call a very young, bottle-fermented wine. Whether white or red, they tend to be a bit sweet and have a low alcohol content with a bit of sparkle. In Germany, this wine is called ‘Federweisser’. Private people with a license to make their own wine and sell it – along with hearty meals – are called ‘Heuriger’ in Austria. Traditionally, Heurige are located on the outskirts of Vienna. The vineyards and wine gardens are located on the slopes surrounding the city. A new wine bar has recently opened at 20 Windmühlgasse, around 10 minutes from the opera by foot in the historical city centre. In Gschupftn Ferdl, we notice the interior decoration right away. Modern pixel graphics transform the classical country hut atmosphere with a smile, putting it squarely in the 21st century. The cuisine is the next thing that wins us over with 100% organic products at fair prices. Tasty classical cuisine makes ‘Zum Gschupftn Ferdl‘ an authentic highlight. A walk through Reimundhof is also worthwhile: the sign above the entrance says ‘Voluntary Passageway’. I have to laugh, but Clemens can help me out. The passageway is private and the sign ensures that the owner has the right of way.
Breakfast at POC and Café der Provinz
Vienna is renowned for its coffee culture – the Viennese coffee houses were once the meeting places and offices of great authors and the starting point for the coffee house literary genre. How are they faring in the 21st century?
We have coffee and cake for breakfast in the POC café. It is located on Schlösslgasse, in the transept of a church. POC’s passion for coffee quickly becomes apparent. On the counter there are several devices for preparing coffee, including a glass flask for making cold coffee. It’s a real coffee laboratory.
Through a large hole in the wall you can see into the kitchen of Guerilla Bakery, where ‘the girls’ are always baking something new. Each cake is a unique work of bakery art. They don’t have a standard product line, but the quality standards are quite high. For example, they have the house-brand organic flour ground in a friend’s mill. Orgaaaaaanic – our incredibly positive impression is that in the culture of newly opened places to eat, sustainable standards are finally being developed. The prices are lower than in Café Sacher and in my opinion, the taste is much better.
After this sugary-sweet breakfast, we feel like eating something savoury and go a few narrow streets further to Café der Provinz. Here, you eat buckwheat crepes and drink tea. Everything is organic here as well – it’s starting to seem like a matter of course! At €5.50 for a crepe with a fried egg, I feel like I just had a delicious bargain. The service is very friendly and the café is incredibly cosy. We chat, drink tea and plan our next stop.
After our second breakfast, we walked for two hours in the rain to get hungry again. It’s worked, but some of the restaurants we are interested in are closed or still on holiday. Since our feet are slowly getting wet, we spontaneously decide to go to an established brewery restaurant that, according to Clemens, was all the rage in its day: Plutzer Bräu am Spittelberg. A few older people are sitting in the huge main room. I’ll keep it short: the house brand of beer tastes great! The Wiener Schnitzel, goulash and a vegetarian potato casserole are disappointing. The dishes are old-fashioned and bland. If organic isn’t an issue, go around the corner and have your Wiener Schnitzel at affordable Centimeter II.
Café Diglas at 10 Wollzeile is one of the famous Vienna coffee houses that was full of literary figures at the turn of the last century. It must have been something then! The opulent cake and the menu, which even offers zander fillet, both show that tradition and quality can be fun and have earned their reputation. It’s very stylish to sit in the historical café. There are some modern elements as well: a trip to the WC is quite a surprise, for example.
We have experienced, ordered – and of course, eaten – a lot. There are many special dishes in Vienna and they have special names. Here is our glossary to help you:
Debreziner – Spicy pork sausages with paprika
Einspänner – Double espresso whipped cream in a glass
Erdäpfel – Potatoes
Frankfurter – Vienna sausage
Gespritzter – Juice or wine mixed with sparkling water
Kleiner Brauner/Großer Brauner – Small or large coffee with a shot of milk
Käsekrainer – Krainer sausage filled with chunks of cheese
Krainer – Regional coarse sausage, at least 68% pork (originally from Krain in today’s Slovenia)
Melange – Turkish coffee diluted with water; milk foam and whipped cream on top
Nockerl – Spätzle
Palatschinken – Crepe
Paradeiser – Tomatoes
Rote Rüben – Red beets
Sauerrahm – Sour cream
Sackerl – Bag
Semmeln – Rolls
Stanitzl – Cone for ice cream
Schlagobers – Whipped cream
Schwammerl – Small mushrooms
Topfen – Cottage cheese
Überstürzter Neumann – (or, rarely) v’rkehrter Einspänner / Whipped cream with a double espresso
Vogerlsalat – Corn salad
Waldviertler – Smoked Krainer sausage