It felt like every second meal we had on our 72 hour city break in Vienna was of the cake variety. Chalking it up to being away from home and the cake reputation Vienna seems to be associated with we indulged, cutting out unnecessary meals like breakfast and lunch.
With my travel date (poor Mr Kiwi being dragged from tourist pillar to post) suffering from a reoccurring bout of flu, we didn’t make it out for any specifically special evening meals, mostly preferring to grab something on the hoof and laze in the spa, but decided to practice moderation, throwing out a few unnecessary vegetables over the weekend for a finely baked variety of opulence. As they say, a balanced diet is a cake in each hand.
Our three favorite meals consisted basically of carbs and starch in varying permutations. Thank goodness for walking miles looking at beautiful buildings.
Café Sacher Philharmoniker Str. 4, 1010 Wien
Ranked by Tripadvisor as the second best coffee and cake in Vienna, (beaten only by Konditorei Heiner which we ran out of time to visit) the rich history of this hotel and cafe is steeped with intrigue. The story goes that Franz Sacher
woked at Hotel Sacher (one of the most eminent hotels in Europe at the time) and became famous for his Sachertorte, which he allegedly
created for a reception given by Austrian State Chnacellor Klemens von Metternich in 1832. Unusually, instead of naming the cake after the Chancellor or royalty at the time, he stuttered out his own name and went on to cause controversy between two hotels claiming this dish for their own.
The service (where waiters wear starched French uniforms) is beautiful old-fashioned gentility, in rooms of classical opulence. Between us we ordered the signature SacherTorte, Ice Cream cake (replete with apricot Bellini), a copper pot of Turkish coffee and the most ridiculously moreish rum-laced hot chocolate. (Good thing we had walked for hours beforehand, huh?)
Apparently locals spend afternoons over coffee, cake and a newspaper - and with cake shops and bakeries on every corner it's no wonder.
We just had to try the results of a 184 year old recipe, and aided by a cloud of cream it didn't disappoint.
Hotel Imperial Kärntner Ring 16, 1015 Wien
With an hour to go before we had to collect our bags and make our way to the airport, we knew there was one last stop we had to make. Originally constructed in 1863 as the Viennese residence of the
Prince of Württemberg the building was transformed into the Hotel Imperial for
the universal exhibition in 1873.
As you can see, the building is simply glorious, and we enjoyed a slice of Imperial Torte, the worlds most insane iced coffee...
...and a grandiose selection of ice cream and sorbets.
Almost enough to whittle away end of holiday blues, almost.
Pürstner Restaurant 1010 Wien Riemergasse 10 (a 5 minute walk from St Stephens)
Run by the Pürstner family for 3 generations, the restaurant is modelled on a typical house at the turn of the century and filled with quirks (perfect for sleepy holiday conversation lulls.) When my husband spotted the enormous stein of beer modelled above the doorway his step quickened and grin widened. "This looks like a fantastic place already!"
Unquestionably, this is the best discovery we have ever made on the internet. Ever. On our way back from a half day in Bratislava where the cold had seeped into our bones on the walking tour, I quickly Google searched ‘the best Schnitzel in Vienna’ (when in Rome and all that) and hidden at the bottom of the first page past all of the tourist-traps was a blogpost written by a local guy. On that post, he claimed that not only did Pürstner serve the best schnitzel, but he had visited multiple times and felt it was as good as his Mum's.
We walked in at around 5.30 and were the last table the manager took without a reservation, turning away at least 40 people in the next hour or so who hadn't booked either. We were slightly apprehensive after being warned that like in Prague, locals can be a little growly to tourists (for the record with my 6 words of Czech I never had a problem), but the lederhosen-clad manager welcomed us with a smile, we were seated us at a gingham dressed table and handed menus. We ordered beer and ice tea whilst perusing the (thankfully in German AND English) menu and checking out every one else’s plates surreptitiously
Knowing full well that schnitzel was a must (weirdly enough we used to eat Schnitzel all the time as kids in New Zealand) we split a bowl of 'old Viennese soup' of beef & vegetable broth with noodles, a veal schnitzel (as big as your face - those leidenhosen dudes don't mess about), beef steak stuffed with Camembert and ham, and plenty of buttery/fried potatoes. It was wintery starch/carb heaven.
We ♥ Pürstner.
Whilst in the culture capital of Austira we also sampled a slice of apfel Strudel in the Mayerling Woods, a Sissi-Kaffee at Schonbrun Palace (as a proud Kiwi entrenched in Flat Whites, it pains me to admit that this was probably one of my favourite coffees ever, just so damn creamy!), a hot dog or two from street vendors and a few other nibbles on the way.
* Based on the internet research findings of a Kiwi living on the wrong side of the globe