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Gradyghost"s Consolidated Report of Restaurants in Salzburg, Vienna and Prague

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Jan 25th, 2009, 06:25 AM
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Gradyghost"s Consolidated Report of Restaurants in Salzburg, Vienna and Prague

During our recent Christmastime visit to Salzburg, Vienna, and Prague, I made some contemporaneous notes on our restaurant experiences and share them below. Earlier, I published this “report” in sections but they received almost zero commentary. I can only assume (i) no one cared or (ii) the reports rendered the readers speechless, either because they were overwhelmingly good or utterly terrible. Without trying to figure any of this out, I offer the following consolidated report in the hope that it someday may prove convenient in this form.

SALZBURG

In keeping with the view that Salzburg is largely a tourist town and therefore hotel-made restaurant recommendations may not be completely objective, I researched my choices well in advance and took complete responsibility for them. As I explain later, I did the same thing for Vienna, but found myself making a couple of “game-time” switches there.



Pan e Vin: After a long flight to Munich and an immediate train ride to Salzburg, I chose comfort food in this Italian restaurant. The bartender at our hotel warned me that locals regarded Pan e Vin as “good but over-priced”. My research showed that the upstairs venue probably met that description, but our reservation was in the ground level Trattoria which is out of the main traffic pattern and has only a few tables. We ended up being the only diners in the Trattoria and had practically our own waiter.
We watched him prepare a great antipasto from fresh ingredients. For an entrée, I had veal filet which went well with a side of spaghetti in red sauce and a bottle of Montalpuciano. This was a relatively private way to wind down from our travels, with some delicious food, and prepare for a long sleep.

Goldener Hirsch Hotel – Restaurant s’Herzl: After the afternoon Advent Singing Concert in the Large Festival Hall, we repaired to the bar at the famed (and nearby) Goldener Hirsch Hotel. If you decide to order a glass of champagne, consonant with the season, be prepared for 15 Euro per. From there to the less fancy restaurant in the hotel, called “s’Herzl”, where we enjoyed wonderful, pleasant service, a cozy corner table, and fine Austrian fare. My DW enjoyed grilled liverwurst; the Austrian wine was nice.

Weisses Kreuz: We chose this restaurant because of its proximity to the fabulous Christmas Markets in Domplatz. Strolling in the square to live Christmas music and watching ice skaters on the nearby outdoor rink works up an appetite. You reach the restaurant on Bierjodigasse by ascending a narrow winding street in the direction of the Fortress.
The house specialty is the Balkan Platter and it is something to behold. The platter serves multiple diners and includes liver stuffed with goat cheese, sausage stuffed with grape leaves, veal on a skewer and chicken. These meats are accompanied by fried potatoes and rice. The cinnamon parfait is a nice closing touch. The list of Austrian wines is impressive and the prices are reasonable.

Stiftskeller at St. Peters: We attended a 4:00 pm Adventkonzert at the Romanischen Saal at St. Peters. A short walk across the monastery’s courtyard is the restaurant Stiftskeller, said to be amongst the best in Salzburg. One thing we now know is that it was amongst the most expensive that we experienced, but not the best. A close second.
We requested and were seated in the Richardstube room on the ground floor (with a bad knee, I must be careful about stairs), near a grand fireplace. The Christmas decorations throughout this large building, both inside and out, were breathtaking.
We opted, as an appetizer, for the “kitchen surprise”, a delightful selection of Austrian delicacies. For entrees, I had pastured ox and DW had venison. The ox was fantastic; DW was more guarded in her praise. We asked our waiter to select an Austrian wine and he produced a red cuvée, Kreos by name. We enjoyed it so much that our party of 3 had a second bottle, part of which returned to the hotel. To-die-for strudel capped the meal. This is the first time I’ve seen decafe expresso.

Wasserfall: Until we reached Vienna, this Italian restaurant, opened a number of years ago by Salzburg’s first Italian restaurant entrepreneur, offered the best meal of any cuisine in my memory. The place is very popular and a reservation, made well in advance, is the only assurance you’ll get in.
I started with grilled octopus and potatoes, accompanied by a small lettuce salad. The pasta course was shrimp scampi in red sauce – unusual and delicious. My entrée was a medley of grilled fish –salmon, sea bass and shrimp – with potatoes. The sauce made the dish. My DW said that the tiramisu was the best in her experience. A nice Chianti Reserve saw us through this unforgettable dining experience. The “Rechtung” was 15% less than Stiftskeller.

Grand Hotel Zell am See: We had lunch at this lakeside hotel during our train day-trip from Salzburg. The location of the hotel offers a panoramic view of the lake and it snowed throughout our 2 ½ hour meal. Oddly enough, we were the only guests in a huge dining room; apparently the hotel occupants were on the ski slopes. The food was not memorable, but the picturesque setting very much put us in the Christmas mood.

Gablerbräu: Our last dinner in Salzburg was had at this traditional Austrian pub-type restaurant, although in the quiet section called “Richard Meyrstube”. The filet steak and pomme frittes were great!






VIENNA

We took the train from Salzburg to Vienna and were fortunate to have reserved on the newly inaugurated train service of the Austrian Railway System called “RailJet” (RJ). The coaches are of new design and are painted navy blue with gold lettering. The train, like the TGV, is made up of two discrete trains joined at the center with separate locomotives. If you have a reserved seat, be sure to check the composition diagram on the platform because you cannot traverse the train from end to end inside.

The service on board is superb, including folks willing to help with hefting suitcases up from the platform. There are three classes of service: premium, business class, and economy. I can’t speak for the premium service, but in business class we were served lunch (from a nice menu) at our seats. The staff was still feeling its way on the new train but they seemed delighted with the new facilities. There was no dining car, but there was a Bistro Car in which the food was prepared and standup service was available. There are several television monitors in each coach reporting the route and station stops, as well as speed. At one point, I noted 200 km/hour (125 mph) and the ride was smooth as silk. Trains from Salzburg arrive in Vienna at the Westbahnhof. Right now, the station building is undergoing major reconstruction and things are a mess, so prepare for minimal facilities.

Ristorante Firenze Enoteca: We chose this Italian restaurant in the Royal Hotel for our first meal, primarily because of its location nearby the Underground. The address at Singerstrasse 3 allows use of the U1 line to the Stephansplatz station. When returning to the Underground, use the entrance across Kaerntnerstrasse, not the closer one on Kaerntnerstrasse, if you prefer a down escalator instead of stairs.

Firenze Enoteca is a comfortable room with good service. Patrons are treated to the sight of a tempting array of antipasto items as you enter the room. I had pasta with artichokes to start and the turbot with saffron sauce as the main course.

Der Demel: After attending the 9:15 am Mass at Hofburgkapelle (Vienna Boys Choir) and the 11:00 am performance at the nearby Spanish Riding School, we found this venerable café to be nicely convenient for lunch. It is located a few doors up Kohlmarkt from Michaelerplatz which you encounter upon leaving SRS. This is a busy place so a reservation, especially on Sunday, is a good idea.

The traditional Austrian fare is hearty (try the Goulash soup) but save room for a pastry. Dermel prepared pastries for the Emperor and I doubt that there has been much degradation in quality.

Vincent: This restaurant is a 15 minute cab ride from the Centre and was the highpoint of our dining experiences on this trip. A new, garden-type room has been added in the rear since our last visit several years ago (Our waiter kiddingly suggested that that visit enabled the owner, Mr. Frank Gruber, to make the addition) and is worth requesting.

We ordered the five course, prix fixe dinner, having been overwhelmed by the 10 course degustation menu we endured on our last visit. Our meal consisted of a pate of salmon and trout, beef consommé and dumpling for the soup course, salad with a hot scallop and trout roe, a turbot course, and lamb tenderloin for the entrée. Vincent serves a different, complementary wine with each course. This is a fantastic 3 hour experience.

Café Diglas: This café near St. Stephansplatz on Strobelgasse has a history rivaling Demel. We had lunch there and you need to be aware of the following: (1) You can’t get a bloody mary and (2) You must pay cash. Beyond those minor inconveniences, lunch was great and the pastry selection is more extensive than that at Demel. We enjoyed the goulash and brats with roasted potatoes and kraut.

Korso: This well-known restaurant in the Bristol Hotel was our choice for Christmas Eve dinner. There were seatings at 5:00 pm and 8:30 pm; we chose the former. The setting in Korso is elegant and the service is impeccable.

The menu was prix fixe and consisted of 3 courses including excellent veal fillet as the entrée. Modestly priced Austrian wines were suggested on the menu. Overall, the meal was more expensive than Vincent but did not meet that standard.

Restaurant Kuchlmasterei [Niky’s Kitchen]: This restaurant is located on the west side of Vienna and was one of the few restaurants open in central Vienna on the day after Christmas, Boxing Day. The atmosphere and staff were extremely friendly. The menu is limited but the wine list is extensive (2008 Wine Spectator award) We opted for tableside service for our entrees, fillet of sole and roasted suckling pig. Very nice.

Magazin 3 Hacken: This restaurant was suggested by the hotel doorman after he learned of my selection of Griechenbeisl. Much too touristy, he said. Magazin is a small gasthaus with terrific waiters and Austrian food. We had salad with sauerkraut, german potato salad and sliced cucumbers hiding under the bibb lettuce –nice combination. The potato soup is heavenly, but don’t bulk up because the entrees of boiled beef, calves liver and duck were all excellent. For dessert, I suggest the hazelnut soufflé. We had a local red cuvee at Euro 27.50 (in fact, we had two). The bill for 3 with modest tip was Euro 140.

Café Landtmann: We considered a visit to this legendary spot, where Freund supposedly hung out, as necessary to completing the round of Vienna’s notable cafes. The restaurant is at the Rathaus (town hall) tram stop on the Ring. Tuxedoed, very agile, waiters navigate the tight quarters to serve good food and drink from a compact menu.

Danielli: On our last evening in Vienna, our doorman again nixed my selection of Grotto Azzura in favor of this outstanding Italian restaurant. Beginning with the unique garlic bread, the food was sensational. I enjoyed spaghetti with lobster. There is a free standing oven for making pizza that looked and smelled delicious.



PRAGUE


L’Angola: By this time in our trip, we yearned for some good pizza and were led to believe by reception at our hotel that this was the place. It was not, but it turned out to be a pretty good Italian restaurant. The sea bass was superb and the menu had a broad array of pasta dishes. We enjoyed the spaghetti pomodoro as a starter and almost forgot why we came in the first place.

Green Tomato: We found great pizza at this small pizzeria (but with white tablecloths) just one block from Wenceslas Square on Jindrisska, just past Panska in Nove Mesto. Everything is modestly priced, but bring cash –no credit cards.

David: This restaurant has received lots of play on this board and based on those recommendations, we reserved months in advance. Perhaps it was an off night (the night before New Year’s Eve), but we were deeply disappointed. Things began well with a scallop appetizer, but went downhill after that, particularly the beef fillet entrée. The price for the meal ranked in the top three for our trip, but the quality was not in the same league, IMO. I probably would not return without strong assurances of improvement.




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Jan 25th, 2009, 10:23 PM
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bookmarking
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Jan 26th, 2009, 09:04 AM
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Hi gradyghost!

Thanks a lot for the restaurant reviews. I have been cut off from internet (and landline telephone) for some weeks so I didn't see you other thread. Didn't post at all except for maybe one or two posts from an internet café or the library ...

I am especially interested in the Vienna restaurants. Saving them for future reference. Thanks a lot! No surprise for me that the food in Prague was somewhat disappointing. I could add a long list with similar experiences.

I.
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Jan 26th, 2009, 09:35 AM
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Hello Ingo:

I knew that there must have been a good reason for your not weighing in on a topic so close to your heart. I know that you have reported on Salzburg and Prague. It would be fun to compare notes sometime.

As for Vienna, if you do nothing else try Restaurant Vincent:

www.restaurant-vincent.at/

I am not saying that it rivals Dresden's Bean & Beluga, but it is not far off. Let us know when you travel to Vienna.

BTW, did you see my report on the Opera Gala in Prague. It comes at the end of my original post to which you responded:

http://www.fodors.com/forums/pgMessa...ame=gradyghost

Best.
Gradyghost
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Jan 26th, 2009, 10:18 AM
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Gradyghost,

I am so glad the NYE gala turned out to be so wonderful. So the information that I had was wrong! Or they improved dramatically

I also attended a performance of Die Fledermaus on NYE. By far not as fancy as your experience, but still very good (in Görlitz).

Yep, would be fun to compare notes! I'll travel to Vienna later this year, probably in July/August.

Soon, best regards,
Ingo
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Jan 26th, 2009, 11:51 AM
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Ingo:

I shall assume that the officials at the Prague State Opera somehow (lawfully) became privy to your e-mail and acted promptly to correct matters before my arrival in Prague. So there was no error.
GG
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Nov 17th, 2012, 10:03 AM
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Bookmarking, thanks
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Oct 11th, 2013, 01:22 PM
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Bookmarking, many thanks to you GradyGhost, we leave in 42 days... not that I am counting or anything

Cheers and thanks again!
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