Viennese cuisine is like the culture itself, very classy and traditional. Interestingly, Viennese cuisine is also the only cuisine in the world named after a city. When it comes to savoury, the cuisine usually consists of meat, poultry, root veges, and wheat. With sweets, you can usually find a combination of chocolates, soft cheese, and fruit compotes.
We really enjoyed the food we tried in Vienna, particularly their sweets which were just exquisite. I think I mentioned this before, but the Viennese are really the masters of classical cakes. We passed more cake & pastry shops then we did McDonalds and Kebab stalls, and that’s really telling something about the Viennese and their love for sweets. In fact, the whole food culture in the city is very formal, with proper sit down dining and a friendly waiter to serve you. No such thing as a quick bite here, because when you go into a restaurant whether for lunch or dinner, you can expect a full blown ‘sit down meal’ with knife and fork. As such, eating in Vienna is not a cheap affair. There are cheaper alternatives like fast food kebab and pizza stalls, but if you intend on surviving on these for the rest of your time in Vienna, then be prepared to spend on medical bills when you get back.
Of course, with our limited time ( and limited stomach capacity) we have only scratched the surface of Vienese cuisine. The result is the following photo montage:
Schnitzel galore at Figlmüller restaurant.
Figlmüller is one of the many famous beisl aka traditional restaurant serving traditional Viennese cuisines like Weiner Schnitzel, Boiled beef ‘Tafelspitz’, dumplings, etc. Since we don’t take beef, we were only limited to their selection of pork and chicken dishes. The restaurant is located in the central district and quite affordable for Vienna’s standards and considering it’s reputation. I would highly recommend going in a bit earlier (and with an empty stomach) to secure a table during dinner time.
Sandwich buffet for lunch at Trzesniewski
This is a sandwich tradition I believe unique only to Vienna (and maybe the rest of Austria??). It’s a cafe selling ‘open’ sandwich done in a traditional Viennese way, with variety of fillings spread over the top for you to pick and choose from. It is self-service cafe so when you get into the shop, line up and tell the servers exactly what you want. There is no time to hesitate due to constant long queues so make up your mind before you get into the queue. After you pay for your sandwiches, go find a spot to stand and eat your meal. Don’t forget to try one of the local brews! All these for less than 10euros per pax.
The famous Sachertorte
The hands down most famous cake in Vienna is the traditional Sachertorte. You’ll find that in every cafe and confectionery shops you visit, there will be Sachertortes on the menu. I did a little bit of research on the history of this cake and found out that it was actually invented by Franz Sacher who was a pastry chef for the then Royal Prince. Soon after Franz Sacher’s death, his son Eduard inherited his father’s legacy and perfected the Sachertorte to today’s version during his training in Demel bakery. The cake was first served in Demel to the people. Eduard then moved on to establish the famous Cafe Sacher and began feeding the masses with his famous Sachertorte. Due to the fact that both establishments were so closely related in the history of the cake, it has become a debate up till today, on which cafe produces the true and best version of the cake. Yes, both Demel and Cafe Sacher are famous confectionery stores that still exist to this day. If you ever get the chance to visit Vienna, do try one of these stores for a slice of their famous cake and relish in the history that has passed through these two stores in the last century.
On the Sachertorte itself, (based on Demel’s version that we tried) it is basically a chocolate cake, with apricot jam sandwich between the top layer of chocolate ganache and the cake. (I heard in Cafe Sacher, the apricot jam is sandwich between the cake in the middle instead). Despite the colourful history of the cake, to say it is the most delicious piece of chocolate I’ve ever tasted would be a lie. In my personal opinion, the cake is overrated, a tad dry without the cream and not enough chocolate kick. It is however quite sweet. Not my cuppa tea, but then I actually knew about this before I tried so I was actually mentally prepared. Lucky for us, Robin ordered a different traditional cake called Fachertorte – a layered cake of poppy seeds, apples, and fruit compote, which was absolutely delicious. That cake saved the day!
There were so many other cakes and confectionery stores that we honestly lost track of their names. Vienna food culture is all about enjoying your meal at a slow and relax pace. So if you are a big fan of high teas, you will fit right in with a cuppa Viennese coffee and a slice of cake.
While we love their food, I don’t think it’s the type of food that we can eat everyday, unlike Italian or Thai. After a week in Vienna, we left the city with severe cravings for Thai food or anything with spice. Their cakes however, they are something that we still drool over until today. Even if you are not a big fan of sweets like me, just sitting down in one of Vienna’s many classy cafes and enjoy a cup of tea is a great experience as it is.