Just spent two chilly weeks in Budapest, Vienna and Prague. In Budapest, we were taken for a very nice lunch at Cafe Kor where the menu was loaded with local dishes (and convenient english explanations). Food, prices and service were all excellent. Karpathia (referenced on chowhound periodically) was also nice - apparently they mostly do larger parties, but have a few small tables near the front for walk-ins. Food was pleasant and there was a roving group of musicians that were great when playing regional music but unfortunately also played hackneyed tunes like "Guantanamera" and the like for the tourists. Fatal was a big disappointment - the menu included some poorly prepared reginal fare like goose and dumplings, but also had a tex-mex section and other tourist-aimed stuff, as well as incredibly slow service and no atmosphere.
In Vienna, two dinners stand out. The first was at Plachutta, which is known for their tafelspitz (and please, if anyone has their recipe I would be grateful), where we had the best meal of the trip. Following a posting elsewhere on chowhound, the hubby and I ordered Tafelspitz and Kavalierspitz, two different cuts of meat (one from the shoulder, one from the rump). The waiter brought out two heavy and extremely hot aluminum plates and then set the pots with our orders on top to keep them warm. Other than the sides (potatoes and creamed spinach or cabbage), the meal consisted of the beef broth in the pot along with the sliced meat, as well as a chive sauce and a terrific apple/horseradish sauce. The two meats appear to have been prepared identically but had radically different flavors both in the broth and the meat itself, which was really interesting. The broth was easily the best beef broth I have ever had and included a marrow bone, leeks, carrots and turnips. The second dinner (I actually went there twice) was in a little local place some distance beyond the main tourist areas of Vienna called Cafe Biedermann at 1140 Wien, Hutteldorferstrasse 215. The owners speak no english so conversation was a combination of pigeon german and hand gestures, the restaurant is small and smokey, but the food was great, inexpensive and fairly typical of the area. My most spectacular dinner included, I'm not kidding, dumplings, beef goulash, a fried egg, red cabbage, half-sour pickles, and half of a sausage. The crepes with orange marmalade were simple but wonderful.
Our best meal in Prague was also at a lesser-known place, a brewery called Pivovarsky dum (Pivovar restaurant and brewery) where great regional food including gulash, roast pork, wienershnitzel, game dishes and similar fare were served in huge, inexpensive portions. Dessert included wonderful fruit-filled dumplings with sauce and beer jam-filled crepes which were surprisingly tasty. Pivovar is in the second district at Jecna 15 and has a website: www.gastroinfo.cz/pivodum.
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