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I just returned from a week in Vienna and Salzburg with the signature dinner at Vienna's Walter Bauer, arguably the city's best restaurant (now that Steinereck has been reduced to one star). A small, intimate chef owned restaurant with eight tables and remarkable E59 and E89 prix fixe prices for 5 and 9 course dinners with less than a 50% markup on wine-this is directly comparable to, say, Citronelle in D. C., da Fiore (Venice), Violon d'Ingris (Paris) for ambience and quality of presentation. A wonderful experience that my wife and I will look forward to returning to; an absolute must for anyone travelling to Vienna.

Also, near Stevensphaltz (the 12th Century Cathedral), is the city's pre-eminent grocery store, Julius Meinl. I spent almost two hours in it one day and returned yesterday morning for another hour. From Gallo Grand Reserva carneroli 2003 arborio to the best Sprossenbrezen I have ever tasted to 2002 Kracher #11 this is the best indulgence in a city of many indulgences of excess. Both Germany and Austria are famous for bread that is unavailable in the U. S. Julius Meinl is the home of what may be the best bread in all of Austria. Sprossenbrezen is, for lack of a better description, a multiple seeded inch thick soft pretzel with four or five different kinds of seeds and a crispy, buttery crust encasing this that is just not found on this side of the Atlantic. Other seeded breads and rolls, some dark and some light, run the gamut of fantastic expectations: we must have purchased eight or nine different heavily seeded rolls in an attempt to sample as much as we could. The Sprossenbrezen ranks with any baked good I have ever had anywhere in my life! Serious. It is THAT good!

For arborio the Gallo Grand Rserva is almost impossible to find, whether in Vienna or in Panzano or Verona or Alba. Meinl had four one kilo boxes and I bought two. For cheese Meinl's shop must rival most Parisian shops with at least seven to eight hundred square feet of space including at least three staffed counters of specialties, a number of which I have not seen in France or Italy. The wine shop and cellar are extensive, notably displaying Alois Kracher's fantastic and sometimes ambrosial dessert wines including his 99 point (Parker) 2002 #11 and 98 point #10 and #12. All were E 60 or less; in America you can double these prices but this is really meaningless since you won't find them, especially the 10, 11 and 12. (With Kracher the higher the number the sweeter the wine) The #12 is 4% alcohol and doesn't actually qualify as a wine. I opened a bottle and shared it with some friends in our hotel: this may actually compare to the '90 Avignonesi Vin Santo which the WS and Parker both gave 100 points to. Pure thick, syrupy orgasmic nectar. And it has not spent as much time in the bottle as it really should have to age properly! I brought back five more bottles (all that they had)and will not open the first for at least several years. This compares to the best Hungarian Essencia ('93?), Dal Forno's '97 Recioto and the Avignonesi mentioned above. (These are all VERY different dessert wines but they represent the best of their style; Kracher's #11 and #12 compare favorably in their own "style.") I've had many other Kracher tbas and other sweet wines; this is his best. In fact one of my goals is to be able to open this wine a few years from now along side of an Avignonesi Vin Santo and a Dal Forno Recioto, all representing what I think would be an ultimate orgasmic blowout of sugary excess, each in their own styles.

I should also mention that Vienna and Salzburg were both cold this year. Very cold. The high on Sunday was about 16 F. In Salzburg there was about 50 cm of snow on the ground. That's two feet. With two feet of snow and below freezing temperatures even the most beautiful of cities can be less than inviting.

It is good to be home.

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I went to school in Vienna for a year. I had the best harpsichord teacher in the world. I had the first really great dinner of my life in Vienna at Zu dem Drei Husaren. The pianist played Scarlatti, Chopin and Gershwin. The food was exquisite, as was the service. The reason to go to Vienna is the opera. Plan your trip around the opera schedule. They have the longest season, and largest repertoire in the world, September-June.

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Julius Meinl actually has a coffee shop here in the US, in Chicago. I stopped in there last year, while visiting a friend who lived in that neighborhood, but unfortunately the coffee and pastries weren't very good. Something was obviously lost between here and Vienna.

Edited by cjsadler

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I went to school in Vienna for  a year. I had the best harpsichord teacher in the world. I had the first really great dinner of my life in Vienna at Zu dem Drei Husaren. The pianist played Scarlatti, Chopin and Gershwin. The food was exquisite, as was the service. The reason to go to Vienna is the opera. Plan your trip around the opera schedule. They have the longest season, and largest repertoire in the world, September-June.

Mark, Drei Husaren is still there.

http://www.drei-husaren.at/indexENG.html?r...geschichte.html

We went to the opera on Friday night ("Fidelio") and sat in the first row of the third balcony, two boxes back from the stage. Neither of us could see more than two thirds of the stage because the balconies are curved or progressively recessed slightly leading away from the stage. (if this makes sense) For anyone reading this and planning on going do not sit on the side within four or five boxes of the stage. Near the center on any balcony will afford a full view. The opera was outstanding. The experience-view not withstanding-was incredible more than worth it even with a partial view! Vienna is also one of the most beautiful cities in the world as is Salzburg which is almost "magical" with the castle on top of the hill.

Prices in Vienna for food, for hotels, are half or less of what they are in, say, Paris or London. Taxis are through the roof however, as is parking. Hotel parking at the Marriott was Euro 40 a day (about $49). Note that the hotel room was Euro 151 for two with taxes INCLUDED. On Sunday, starting at 9:00PM the Marriott hosted what they billed as the largest Super Bowl Party in Europe with 1,800 people. It lasted until 4:00AM. I think every SUV in Europe was there-almost all Americans! We didn't go, feeling a bit uneasy about it. Still, it was fortunately uneventful.

Edited by Joe H

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Joe, great memories. I lived 8 years in Austria and the Julius Meinl does indeed have the BEST BREAD IN THE WORLD.

The 'salz stengel'............ach du lieber.

PS: Meinls are everywhere is Austria.

Edited by DCMark

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I just returned from a week in Vienna and Salzburg with the signature dinner at Vienna's Walter Bauer, arguably the city's best restaurant (now that Steinereck has been reduced to one star).  A small, intimate chef owned restaurant with eight tables and remarkable E59 and E89 prix fixe prices for 5 and 9 course dinners with less than a 50% markup on wine-this is directly comparable to, say, Citronelle in D. C., da Fiore (Venice), Violon d'Ingris (Paris) for ambience and quality of presentation.  A wonderful experience that my wife and I will look forward to returning to; an absolute must for anyone travelling to Vienna. 

And what was your limit on schnitzengruben?

http://img70.imageshack.us/img70/1818/schnitz3mx.jpg

Edited by CrescentFresh

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We will be staying in Leopoldstadt (District # 2) just north of Rosen Park. Any suggestions for lunch? We will be pretty close to Lassalle. Thanks.

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Anyone been recently? Suggestions for good places to hit -- cheap or high end or in between, we expect to sift our way through all levels. Options with good wine would be good (and good bier too). Naschmarkt is, of course, on our to do list, but looking further afield as well. Anyone ever go roving outside of Vienna to see any of the wineries that are reasonably close to town (think of a day trip to hit 3 or 4 wineries perhaps)? Suggestions? thanks!

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Anyone been recently? Suggestions for good places to hit -- cheap or high end or in between, we expect to sift our way through all levels. Options with good wine would be good (and good bier too). Naschmarkt is, of course, on our to do list, but looking further afield as well. Anyone ever go roving outside of Vienna to see any of the wineries that are reasonably close to town (think of a day trip to hit 3 or 4 wineries perhaps)? Suggestions? thanks!

You should watch the No Reservations episode from this season in Vienna for pointers. Bourdain ate at Gut Purbach, in the countryside, and it looked fantastic. There is a travel guide at their website.

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You should watch the No Reservations episode from this season in Vienna for pointers. Bourdain ate at Gut Purbach, in the countryside, and it looked fantastic. There is a travel guide at their website.

My favorite weinstube from my student days is still there. Friends visited recently and loved it: Brezel-Gwolb in the first district.

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If you get in late to Vienna and are searching for a good meal, you can do worse than stumbling into Victus and Mili (http://victusundmili.at/). We had the added complication of a grumpy toddler weary from five hours on the road, and they simply smiled and let him wander the restaurant while we waited. It's a painfully hip, brightly lit space, catering to a young crowd. Occurred cabbage soup starters were good but a bit under acidic for me, though the bits of fresh sour apple helped. For mains Marisa got the gnocchi with red cabbage and greens, and I got their version of schnitzel. Both were made to order in the open kitchen, and were lighter than expected. They were of course the only two mains available - they only offer two appetizers and two entrees a night. At €54 for two apps, two entrees, one dessert (red wine poached pears with mascarpone cream, Ian loved it), three wines, and a beer, you would be foolish to not try this place out if in Vienna.

But if you are coming from DC, trust me, there is no reason to go to Ethiopian Restaurant, Austria's only... Ethiopian restaurant. I would put it in the bottom tier if compared to DC Ethiopian. For us, having driven over 1k kilometers from Kosovo? Worth it.

Edited to add: no we did not cover 1k kilometers in 5 hours. We broke the trip up and celebrated Thanksgiving in Belgrade.

Edited by Kanishka
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My favorite weinstube from my student days is still there. Friends visited recently and loved it: Brezel-Gwolb in the first district.

Oh I hit up Brezel Gwolb in July and a few years ago. I love that place.

This work trip I hit up Gasthaus Poschl for great bier, great squash soup, and really excellent beef tartare. Very much recommended. A total locals joint, too.

I also was taken to Figlmuller for schnitzel, which was really very good, but I think, despite a bunch of locals, a tad too touristy for me.

Also hit up Trzesniewski for lunch one day (tiny little sandwiches with primarily eggy and fishy goodness toppings) and roamed the Weihnachtsmarkts for food and ended up, aside from all of the gluhwein, a very thick slice of blutwurst en croute heated up to walk around with. I will see if I can find the picture.

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18 minutes ago, The Hersch said:

(It may be interesting that I posted my previous comment in a train from Prague to Vienna, and am now sitting in a tiny room in a Vienna hotel where I stayed once before, about 25 years ago. Oh, and this building is where Franz Grillparzer was born in 1791.)

Try a Sacher Torte at Hotel Sacher just to see how *bad* it is, then have one down the street at a real Viennoiserie.

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12 hours ago, DonRocks said:

Try a Sacher Torte at Hotel Sacher just to see how *bad* it is, then have one down the street at a real Viennoiserie.

I'm afraid I must leave that assignment for others. I never, ever eat that sort of thing

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Stayed at Hotel Bristol, across the street from the opera house.  It's a great hotel at a great location, a short walk from the palace, the cathedral, and Kunst museum.

Best meal was at Oswald & Kalb, a so-called classic restaurant with plenty to choose from.  

We had schnitzel at many places but I don't think they're that exciting.  I think I prefer country fried steak with gravy.  If they just douse the schnitzel with gravy, that would work too.

Steirereck (a Michelin 2 star restaurant) provided great service and interesting food.  The house special is a fish (char) cooked in bees wax.  Hot wax is poured over the raw fish and cooks it perfectly in 12 minutes.  

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On 9/11/2018 at 2:02 PM, Ericandblueboy said:

Stayed at Hotel Bristol, across the street from the opera house.  It's a great hotel at a great location, a short walk from the palace, the cathedral, and Kunst museum.

Best meal was at Oswald & Kalb, a so-called classic restaurant with plenty to choose from.  

We had schnitzel at many places but I don't think they're that exciting.  I think I prefer country fried steak with gravy.  If they just douse the schnitzel with gravy, that would work too.

Steirereck (a Michelin 2 star restaurant) provided great service and interesting food.  The house special is a fish (char) cooked in bees wax.  Hot wax is poured over the raw fish and cooks it perfectly in 12 minutes.  

Where did you look to research central Europe?  

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34 minutes ago, astrid said:

Where did you look to research central Europe?  

For hotel I just checked Trivago and other sites for 5 star hotels.  For food - mostly Michelin guide.  I dunno how Steve came up with Oswald & Kalb.  We also ate at Das Spittelberg, Central Cafe, and several sausage stands.

For sight-seeing, Rick Steves' Eastern Europe (covers Vienna, Budapest, Prague and more).

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I usually Google for best of lists for the city, then verify against TripAdvisor and menu.  That's why I was a little surprised by Oswald & Kalb, as it has a pretty modest internet profile.  It does sound like a great find that I am looking forward to checking out.  I strongly distrust Michelin as an authority, since Michelin 3 starred Akelarre was my worst restaurant meal of 2015 (though I also had one of the best meals of my life at 3 starred restaurant Martin Berasategui on the same trip).

We graduated from literal car camping (sleeping in rental cars in campgrounds) to Airbnb just a few years ago.  So not quite 5 star ready yet.  

Of the mainstream travel guides, I like Fodor for its consistency.  Moon is variable by author but they have a few regional experts.  Blue Guide can be really good for Europe and antiquities.  TripAdvisor is getting more sells-y and less useful, but still massively useful.

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16 hours ago, astrid said:

Of the mainstream travel guides, I like Fodor for its consistency.  Moon is variable by author but they have a few regional experts.  Blue Guide can be really good for Europe and antiquities.  TripAdvisor is getting more sells-y and less useful, but still massively useful.

If you like art history, Rick Steves has audio walking tours available for download for free.  Just get his app and then you can add his various audio guides.  His Vienna city tour and St. Stephens Cathedral guides are really good.  When you go to St. Stephens, pay the money to get in the nave.

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Good to know!  Though I can only take so many Madonna and Child paintings in a given week...

 

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Thanks for the recs!  Will definitely look into them!  I am really looking forward to the trip, we haven't had any vacation travel this year except for a weekend in Philly.  I could definitely use a break from work.

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