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Vienna, sacher torte, Demel's, etc.


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For what it's worth I was in Vienna two months ago for four days on business. My first stop was at Demel, the legendary bakery/chocolate shop/cafe which is one of the two who serve "authentic" Sacher tortes along with others.

It was horribly, horribly disappointing! extremely crowded, expensive (not in relation to the dollar but by Euro standards) and just nowhere near as good as what I had expected. I had slices of two tortes there along with outstanding hot chocolate and two more torte slices that I took back to my hotel room as well as a Kilo of chocolate to bring back. On the return trip the Zurich airport has two outposts of Sprungli which is, arguably, the best Swiss chocolate. FAR superior to what I bought at Demel.

One of my dinners was at Walter Bauer, considered one of the two or three best restaurants in the city. Pastry was excellent. But not any better than what can be found here. In fact I would argue that both Citronelle and Maestro have several pastries that I preferred to anything in Vienna.

Viennese pastry is a great image. The real thing-at the source-left real disappointment.

I should note that one store featured "American style" pizza. Perhaps for them this is like Viennese pastry for us.

Of course the city may be the most beautiful of all in Europe!

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Joe-

I have to agree Demel has become a bit of a tourist trap and the Sacher Torte is not that good. Next time your in Vienna go to Zum Knuckuck. Small, historic, and excellet food. There is a great wine bar next door which Karl (the owner) runs as well. It's right down by Stephansdome off Kartner Strasse. Here is the web site.

http://www.kuckuck.cc/engeschichte.php

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Joe-

I have to agree Demel has become a bit of a tourist trap and the Sacher Torte is not that good.  Next time your in Vienna go to Zum Knuckuck.    Small, historic, and excellet food.  There is a great wine bar next door which Karl (the owner) runs as well. It's right down by Stephansdome off Kartner Strasse.  Here is the web site.

http://www.kuckuck.cc/engeschichte.php

Thanks, Fred. I'll be back there next February for a trade show.

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I lived in Vienna for 8 years and we only took visiting tourists to Damel.

I think you were extremely fortunate to live there. It is one of the most beautiful cities that I have found anywhere and I've been in probably every major city in Europe. I found a restaurant called Harry's Time (Gault Millau 15 for food, very reasonably priced) that I really liked. So much that I had dinner there three nights out of four! I would love to own a wine bar here similar to what I found in Vienna. Unfortunately this is not a possibility in the D. C. area. My wife and I will probably do a vacation in September that includes Vienna, Budapest and Prague and a bit of exploration between them.

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I lived in Vienna for 8 years and we only took visiting tourists to Damel.

I lived in Vienna for a year in college. I went to Demel's once. It was VERY expensive compared to other konditerei. At the time there was a small chain called Aida. We went to the one across from the opera house almost everyday after music lessons. I became addicted to the topfengulatchen (and came home much heavier than when I went).

Mark

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I was a kid (7+) and those were among the best years of my life. However, in the 1970s-1980s Vienna was certainly not the foodie destination it is today. Certainly the local specialities were and are wonderful but fine dining was a joke at the time (according to my parents) so we made frequent culinary trips to Italy and France.

I still maintain that most Austrian wine (especially Red) sucks......

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I was a kid (7+) and those were among the best years of my life.  However, in the 1970s-1980s Vienna was certainly not the foodie destination it is today.  Certainly the local specialities were and are wonderful but fine dining was a joke at the time (according to my parents) so we made frequent culinary trips to Italy and France.

I still maintain that most Austrian wine (especially Red) sucks......

I suspect that Vienna has gone through a great deal of restoration and renovation similar to some of the ways DC has changed since the '60's when there were temporary buildings on the Mall left over from WWII. White Austrian wine is among the finest in the world; I've had several reds that I really enjoyed. Not as, say, a first growth but very good for what they are.

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I was a kid (7+) and those were among the best years of my life.  However, in the 1970s-1980s Vienna was certainly not the foodie destination it is today.  Certainly the local specialities were and are wonderful but fine dining was a joke at the time (according to my parents) so we made frequent culinary trips to Italy and France.

I still maintain that most Austrian wine (especially Red) sucks......

One of the most memorable meals of my life was had at Zu dem Drei Husaren in the first district near the Stephansdom. Service, food and ambience combined into something magical and something I had never experienced before.

Austrian whites have come a long way since the days we used to swill liters of cheap plonk.

Mark

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I am sure they have. I do remember warning visitors to ask for 'alte' weiss wein and not the neue weiss. Neue gave you the s**ts

I was a kid (7+) and those were among the best years of my life.  However, in the 1970s-1980s Vienna was certainly not the foodie destination it is today.  Certainly the local specialities were and are wonderful but fine dining was a joke at the time (according to my parents) so we made frequent culinary trips to Italy and France.

I still maintain that most Austrian wine (especially Red) sucks......

One of the most memorable meals of my life was had at Zu dem Drei Husaren in the first district near the Stephansdom. Service, food and ambience combined into something magical and something I had never experienced before.

Austrian whites have come a long way since the days we used to swill liters of cheap plonk.

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Last time I was in Vienna I stumbled my way through some Heurigen which are ultimately local family run wineries that got swallowed up by the city during it's expansiton. Wonderful spots where you feel like your sitting in someones garden drinking the most god aweful white blend that seems like a cross of sav blanc, chardonnay, and crab apples but I digress the food is fantastic at each place and really a great spot to while away a day in Vienna.

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jawohl!

heurigen.jpg

Dort esst man gut!

DCP_0019.JPG

Last time I was in Vienna I stumbled my way through some Heurigen which are ultimately local family run wineries that got swallowed up by the city during it's expansiton.  Wonderful spots where you feel like your sitting in someones garden drinking the most god aweful white blend that seems like a cross of sav blanc, chardonnay, and crab apples but I digress the food is fantastic at each place and really a great spot to while away a day in Vienna.

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Last time I was in Vienna I stumbled my way through some Heurigen which are ultimately local family run wineries that got swallowed up by the city during it's expansiton.  Wonderful spots where you feel like your sitting in someones garden drinking the most god aweful white blend that seems like a cross of sav blanc, chardonnay, and crab apples but I digress the food is fantastic at each place and really a great spot to while away a day in Vienna.

Even 30 years ago when I was there, Grinzing was a tourist trap. Armies of tour buses would pull up and clog the streets. 2 hours later hordes of weary, drunken travelers full of baked chicken and new wine poured out into the narrow streets. Something you want to see only once. Much more fun was to hop in the car and journey out to Gumpoldskirchen or Coblenz.

Mark

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Agreed. We lived in Neustif am Walde and went to school in Salmannsdorf. Grinzing was verboten.

Last time I was in Vienna I stumbled my way through some Heurigen which are ultimately local family run wineries that got swallowed up by the city during it's expansiton.  Wonderful spots where you feel like your sitting in someones garden drinking the most god aweful white blend that seems like a cross of sav blanc, chardonnay, and crab apples but I digress the food is fantastic at each place and really a great spot to while away a day in Vienna.

Even 30 years ago when I was there, Grinzing was a tourist trap. Armies of tour buses would pull up and clog the streets. 2 hours later hordes of weary, drunken travelers full of baked chicken and new wine poured out into the narrow streets. Something you want to see only once. Much more fun was to hop in the car and journey out to Gumpoldskirchen or Coblenz.

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Agreed Grinzig ist verboten but my brother and I went mid week, off season, and didn't run into a soul. We also went to some out of the way places that don't get much foot traffic. Ended up sitting at one place with the owner for 2 hours while my brother talked and translated I drank and nodded politely. :wink:

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  • 2 years later...

I was just in Vienna and at Demel's. My pastry was not that great. The coffee, however, was one of the best I have ever had, period. The coffee in Vienna is generally quite good, but Demel's stood way above the rest. I had the melange (half coffee and half milk). Only one other time (in buenos Aires) have I swooned over coffee like that.

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I was just in Vienna and at Demel's.  My pastry was not that great.  The coffee, however, was one of the best I have ever had, period.  The coffee in Vienna is generally quite good, but Demel's stood way above the rest.  I had the melange (half coffee and half milk). Only one other time (in buenos Aires) have I swooned over coffee like that.

Thanks for sharing your good experience with the coffee! I've only been to Demel's once but I had an excellent slice of cake there. I can't remember what type it was but it definately was not a Sacher Torte because I tend to usually order non-chocoalte options. I may have ordered an Esterhazyshnitten (nut meringue slice filled with kirsch buttercream...) It's described in more detail in this thread and post here where we've been sharing some of our baking experiences from Rick Rodger's Kaffehaus : Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafes of Vienna, Budapest and Prague.

I have had Sacher Torte at the Sacher Hotel when I was a kid, but I just can't remember it well enough. I'm actually tempted to order Sachertorte from either Demel's or the Sacher Hotel just to see if it's really as disappointing for me as it has apparently been for some others! :smile:

I'll have a week and a half to eat pastries and cakes there this summer so I'll probably be at Demel's more than once. With some research I've turned up a lot of Konditorei (patisserie) options in Vienna though so I suspect I'll be busy each day indulging my Austrian sweet tooth.

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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My daughter and I have been enjoying the Sacher Torte I brought from Vienna. Sacher torte needs a lot of real whipped cream to go with it, then I think it's quite good. That's how they serve it at the Sacher.

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Hi,

We visited Vienna last year (2006). We gave up trying to get the attention of the rather snooty waiting staff at Café Demel one afternoon.

We did stop for coffee at Café Sacher one evening - actually my wife had hot chocolate which was lukewarm and inferior to what I make at home. Again the staff were extremely snooty.

For the a great lunchtime dining experience, we went down to Naschmarkt where there is a row of stalls-cum-cafés serving all kinds of cuisine from Viennese to Vietnamese. At Naschmarkt I also enjoyed just wandering through all the different Turkish and Greek stalls with the wonderful arrays of delicacies on offer. It is the sort of place where one is inpsired to buy a lot of stuff and spend the weekend cooking!

There was a Persian restaurant we visited near Westbahnhof - the name escapes me - which we enjoyed except for the table full of smoking chimneys puffing away right next to us.

(Slightly OT) The presence of smokers in Austrian restaurants was a big turnoff for us in many cases. In Switzerland, a couple of cantons (Solothurn and Tessin or Ticono) have now voted to outlaw smoking in bars and restaurants and many places are making moves in the same direction - e.g. in Basel there is an initiative now to force the issue to a referendum; so Austria was a bit of a shock in that regard.

Cheers,

Nick

Edited by nickatbasel (log)
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I'm vacationing in Europe for two weeks this summer, one week in Vienna (can't wait! although a bit annoyed with myself for missing Mozart's 250th!) and I've read a lot about coffeehouse culture. Which made me a bit nervous, are there any real codes of behavior?

All of my guidebooks have Demel as the best coffeeshop! So interesting :laugh:

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