I was in Central Europe last week, visiting Vienna in part because a fellow hound had said the restaurants were such good value. (This drew a lot of skepticism from my friends.)
fighting a cold, and on my own most of the time. Best meals: a vegetarian lunch at Clear Head, gorgeous eggs and sausage (and wifi) at newly opened Cafe Mistral near the Rudolfinum, a cubist pastry with coffee at the gorgeous Museum of Czech Cubism cafe.
Also nettles and sour cherry beer at Pivovarsky Dum (accompanied by duck drowned in gravy and unfriendly service), tea at the new smokefree Friends Coffee House, and a pricey lunch with an unparalleled view out on the docks at the Kampa Museum.
A warning that Czechs don't seem to go out for breakfast, and there were few places to eat in Prague 2 at 8 am (jetlagged, I was up much earlier, like when the sun rose at 5). I had a big but mediocre breakfast buffet at the Ibis near Lipova, after finding only one other option, the Sheraton buffet for 600+ koruna! My tiny hotel had refrigerators, and I should have stocked up at the local produce shop.
delicious jogyn and Sachertorte at Cafe Mayer on the square in the old town. Lots of other elaborate looking pastries. We had a very inexpensive (3 euros for two courses) lunch on the main pedestrian mall.
and on to:
Vienna! which truly is a destination for great and inexpensive wining and dining
highlights: Cafe Central, where i had the spargel soup and a glass of wine. Such lovely atmosphere.
Gaumenspiel on Zieglergasse, for incredible dinner one night and dessert a second. Carpaccio, crab curry soup, arugula salad, and divine goose liver. Great wine list (3 to 5 euros a glass). I'd have eaten here every night if I could have.
Hollman Salon. I had the three-course dinner (34 euros?) which started auspiciously with squab. The second course was an unmemorable fish, and the final was guinea fowl, which I didn't like at all. A beautiful spot and an adventurous menu. I wanted to like this more than I did. Atmosphere was a bit formal. More great wines for half the price of a Coca-Cola.///
Cafe Leopold at the marvelous Leopold Museum for a snack. We sat on the glass overhang. This is a great spot for people watching.
I also had Gerstner sausages with mustard and fresh horseradish at the cafe at Kunsthistoriches, to give me strength to keep going through their incredible painting collection.
Perfect respectable wiener schnitzel at the restaurant across from the Folksopera. Excellent service, and a very modest bill (perhaps 13 or 14 euros including a glass of rose and a tip).
I had a great doner sandwich and bright green pistachio cake at a fundraiser for Tuba Mosque, on a sunny Saturday in the park on my way over to Hundertwasser House.
Unlike Paris, no one seems to mind if you want a glass of wine or a cup of coffee and sit for a while.
We made breakfast at our apartment each morning. The local yogurts were very good, and I loved the fresh cheese. We had a weekly transit pass (14 euros Monday through Sunday), and were located right on the U3 line, so we never hesitated to ride off to another neighborhood and explore. I'd really encourage this.
A warning that nicer restaurants bring a basket of bread without asking for 2.5 euros (a lot if you're eating alone and didn't want it).
Tips in Prague were 10 percent. Vienna 5 to 10 percent. And then I went to Paris where 1 euro was often enough.
All in all, a great food adventure. I would happily return to Vienna just for dinner and wine; and to Prague or Bratislava for many other reasons. Thanks to Malik for the initial encouragement.