Long time lurker/first-time poster. My wife and I have gotten some great info on CH over the years, and although I'm not a message board regular (here or elsewhere) I wanted to send along some feedback and pics from our recent trip to Vienna. I plan to do a separate trip report for our time in Prague shortly. Hope this is helpful!
We arrived in Vienna from the US midday Friday 13 Feb, and with jetlag we didn’t think we’d be able to last into the night, so based on CH recommendations booked a 6:00 pm reservation at Restaurant Konstantin Filippou. I booked online about a week in advance, and in hindsight feel lucky to have gotten a table for Friday night. I ended up corresponding via email with the chef’s wife Manuela, who was also running the front of the house, and she is extremely pleasant and willing to assist. As discussed elsewhere on CH, RKF offers 2 tasting menus, and either can be had in 4 or 6 courses; we did one of each 6-course meal (so we tried all 12 dishes they were serving), plus wine pairing. We had a sensational meal at RKF – amazing plating, interesting combinations, excellent variety, just a sublime experience. Some favorites included a cod/pork belly combination (near ground of Pic #1), a veal/snail/marrow offering, and pigeon with elderberries. One criticism was one of personal taste but definitely part of the restaurant’s ‘persona’ – RKF proudly offers organic/biodynamic wines, emphasizing their lack of sulfites. This was a different approach, but for me it did not necessarily elevate the meal. It was also expensive – the most expensive of any meal on our trip (right out of the gate!). We basically got to try everything on their menu, plus a glass of champagne to start and coffee to finish, and including tip for 2 people the bill came to just over $500. Overall though, a really amazing meal and I’d highly recommend RKF if this type of food/presentation is your thing.
Saturday we tried our luck eating a late breakfast at one of the many cafes at the Naschmarkt. The Naschmarkt itself was interesting enough as a very large and congested farmer’s market (the Flohmarkt (flea market) aspect I could have done without and would not do again), but as others here have suggested, dining at the Naschmarkt was nothing special, and somewhat cumbersome. Unless you’re gathering individual ingredients for a picnic, save your meals for elsewhere.
We stayed at the Hotel Bristol, which for our purposes was ideally situated and gave a great level of service. We did eat at the Hotel Bristol Lounge Sunday night, and it was much better than I’d anticipated (not sure why I had low expectations, but it was a legitimately fine experience). There are also 2 food huts just outside the hotel on the Ringstrasse, and having succumbed to the temptation of Viennese fast food Saturday afternoon, I can also recommend trying those at least once.
On a Monday spent walking the Innere Stadt we were happy to book a lunch table at Gasthaus Poschl – a small gastro-pub type place that served standard fare (I had fried pork medallions, wife had the liver – See Pic #2). It was a good meal, nice location off a side street away from the main buzz, very comfortable. Reservations highly recommended though, as we tried to book for another time and were declined.
We attended the Opera on Monday night, and based on other CH recommendations as to both timing of the meal (Opera went from 7-10:30, a testy schedule for those trying to plan their meals), we booked a table at Gasthaus Oper following the show. I had minced veal (read to me like a shepherd’s pie) and my wife had boiled beef with the traditional sides – an entrée we saw plenty of in Vienna. The restaurant was very versatile, meaning it suited us post-Opera in suit/dress business attire, but you could get away with dressing it down as the space is not too pretentious. The most redeeming qualities were proximity to the Opera and willingness to serve us around 11:00 pm, and we enjoyed that meal very much.
The other highlight meal we enjoyed was Tuesday lunch at Restaurant Steirereck – obviously highly acclaimed and reviewed on these boards and elsewhere. I’d gotten the sense that Stierereck was getting a little backlash from those for whom it wasn’t the best meal they’d ever enjoyed (befitting of ‘the rankings’) so was cautiously optimistic. My caution was totally unjustified, because Stierereck was a culinary experience we won’t soon forget. True to what we’d read, not only was the food excellent but the service there is also an event unto itself. The bread cart overflows; the cheese cart overwhelms; the tea service (tableside hand-curated leaves and herbs – Pic #3 – are something I’d never seen before) was over the top. They started us off with 5 amuse-bouche (see Pic #4), each unique in its own right. We did the 5-course lunch menu, again opting for maximum coverage of the menu offerings. In hindsight it was too much food for lunch, even though spread out over 3+ hours, and I would skip the cheese course if there ever was a next time (amazing selection, just too much food for us by that point). Highlights included char prepared tableside using beeswax to cook/crust the fish, my wife’s venison hearts (Pic #5), and poppy-seed potato ‘noodles’ for dessert. I stuck with multiple fish dishes, which seemed to be emphasized. We did lunch because that was the only time I could book – again, went online, probably 2-3 weeks in advance, for a table for 2 at noon on a Tuesday. Tough ticket, but exquisite meal! Highly, highly recommended as a lifetime-level meal.
Also along the way during the trip were stops at Vienna stalwarts like Café Hawelka (crowded, oozed history, but not our favorite stop), Demel (fine chocolate worth bringing home as gifts), and Café Central (which I preferred to Hawelka although a slightly further walk, neat architecture and history). Konstantin Filippou and Steirereck were the clear winners – 2 incredible meals in a short time. But we weren’t disappointed in any of the meals we had in Vienna, due in large part to the intel we got from these CH boards. So thanks to all of you for the input!