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Vienna weekend, medium sized report


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Vienna weekend, medium sized report

vanderb | | Jun 26, 2011 01:57 PM

Just returned from a trip to Vienna last week and learned a few things: the Naschmarkt is one of my favourite places on earth, the Blaue Bar in Hotel Sacher serves one of the best Negronis going and the cafes in the middle of the museum quarter are a great place to drink beer, eat snacks and wait out a thunderstorm.

We started the trip with a visit to Anna Sacher for my wife's birthday and each opted for a different 6 course tasting menu with wine pairings. I had the menu Anna Sacher and my wife the Innovativ, I'll really only speak for the key dishes I most enjoyed and give my thoughts on how she enjoyed hers. The aspargus vanilla-cruller w/ smoked goose liver was like a cold heavenly pillow of creamy goodness, with goose liver. I wasn't sure what to expect with this dish but was it ever outstanding, so much vanilla in the cold creamy "cruller" and with finely shaved goose liver on top to add the umame quotient it required. Then the rabbit lobster cabbage noodles with lovage, I really didn't expect the "noodles" to be cabbage, I thought they would be some kind of cabbage infused noodle but I was wrong. The combo of the rabbit, lobster and cabbage sounds odd but they went together beautifully in a very rich and fulfilling dish, the only complaint was the lobster was a bit overcooked and chewy. My wife really enjoyed her meal as well and the two raviolis stood out the most. First the tomato essence spiny lobster raviolo with chervil was a soup that exploded with tomato flavour when the "bubble" of tomato essence was broken, a great taste and surprise. Then the halibut hollandaise ravioli with cherry caused a deep silence while it was consumed, they cherry was not an obvious choice in this combination but very well received.

All in all Anna Sacher is an outstanding restaurant in formidible surroundings, the art on display in the dinning room was beautiful as was the overall ambiance. The only draw back I felt was the service, it did not "wow" me as the food did and at times was sloppy. I was also disappointed we were not reminded what the dishes were that were served, generally each course was just placed in front of us and the server backed away. With six courses, and wine, the reminders would have been appreciated as we had to refesh our memories from the online menu when we got back to the hotel. Even with this and the expense it was most worthwhile and I highly recommend Anna Sacher to anyone looking for a high end dinning experience in Vienna.

We didn't take the breakfast option at the hotel but also didn't expect to find so little around our hotel that was open on a Saturday late morning. We ended up for early lunch at Mullerbeisel (Seilerstatte 15), but this is not a place to recommend or return to. We kept it as simple as we could as it was our breakfast and had soup (creamy garlic and broth with pancake noodles) and smoked salmon on toast. Nothing great here, the place was packed with a bus tour shortly after we arrived and I think that must be their bread and butter.

After reading other reviews of Gmoakeller, and it was only 100 meters from our hotel, we did go there for an early dinner before the ballet. I had my only Weiner Schnitzel of the trip here, saved the dish for this location as I believed I'd be getting something very special. To be honest it wasn't a favourite, the breading lacked texture, the meat a little chewy and I'm sure it was deep fried not pan fried. I still hold the best WS I've had in the last 2 months is at home in Brno, CZ at the Austro-Hungarian restaurant Hansen (details here if you do a "find" for Hansen - The ambiance of Gmoakeller was beautiful and as traditional as others have mentioned, the WS won't keep me from returning here next time I'm in Vienna.

On to the Naschmarkt...

This is the kind of place I dreamed about living in India the past year and a half: a cornucopia of packed restaurants with happy diners and wonderful smells; produce that demanded to be eaten; deli products that would not all fit into my bag; top notch butchers and a quirky flea market/boot sale to top it all off. We had our two small meals here at Chi (Vietnamese) because we've missed Vietnamese so much since we left home a while back. They had our favourite Goi Cuon (summer roles with shrimp) and a Pho that smelled divine but tasted like a small slice of beefy noodley heaven. I can't complain about anything here, the place was tiny but the service and food excellent, I'd like to pack the place up and bring it to Brno so I could eat there every day. After this we went around the corner to Hella Gruber (fish market) and had the Euro 2.50 oysters another poster mentioned, they weren't cheap but after a total oyster derth for the last year and a half they hit the spot with a very nice (and unknown) local white they were pouring. I do prefer my oysters on the smaller side, and these were not, but they were still very fresh and left nothing but smiles on our faces.

As we can't get much, if any, lamb here in Brno I stopped at one of the many butcher shops. After quite a bit of pantomime, pointing at parts of my body that I wanted the lamby equivalent of I did walk away with an expensive but very tasty bag of lamb (had the shanks last night braised in red wine and mushrooms with feta, roasted garlic mashed potatoes). The mushrooms for the braise were from one of the produce vendors who had a nice stack of chantrelles (my assumption) and morrels. We also got several containers of olives, deli meats and cheeses to fill the cooler for the return trip home. The only places we missed in my opinion were the sauerkraut/pickle vendor that I will return to next time when the cooler isn't so full and some of the beef the butchers had... great looking standing ribeye roasts and t-bones waiting to be cut.

I don't remember the place we stopped last in the museum quarter, after some heavy duty museuming, but it was on the far left side of the quad. I liked the ambiance in this little area, hipster bistros, with equally hipster staff cooking and serving. It could have been horribly pretentious but it wasn't, simple but beautiful burgers, plates of sliced salamis, proscuitto, hummus, olives and sandwiches. A great place to watch people and wait out a thunderstorm while enjoying a few beers and snacks.

My first real visit to Vienna was a great experience and as we're only a couple of hours away we'll be back, often, and I hope to experience more of what the city has to offer.