Vienna

By abbieredmon

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Vienna feels big, especially compared to Prague. I know Prague is also a big city, but the part you usually spend time in as a tourist is pretty manageable.

Our flat in Vienna is gorgeous, though! Modern, minimalist beauty with some fun touches like a 1970s TV cabinet and an antique writing desk in one of the bedrooms.

Even though our train got in at 3:30, after a very lengthy introduction to the city from our AirBnB host, we really only had time for a quick trip to the grocery and dinner.

Fortunately, dinner was the highlight of the day anyway.

Glacis Beisl is right behind the Museumsquartier, very close to the tourist center of town. The restaurant is huge, with just as much seating outside as inside, if not more, in a really nicely appointed garden area set low off the street. There seemed to be two types of dining rooms inside -- one more casual, which seemed to be popular with families and kids, and a few other rooms with white tablecloths and a more upscale feel.

We sat in the former, which didn't matter to me, because the food was the same -- and just as delicious -- no matter your dining environment!

I ordered a pumpkin vegetable plate, which came with two little potato cakes mixed with chives and other spices, which were a bit crispy on the outside, and some yoghurt on the side. It was seriously delicious! Definitely a nice welcome to Vienna.

(The photo is of our flat, not of my meal or the restaurant -- sorry!)

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This place is difficult to find, but it's worth it.

After wandering through Vienna on foot all morning, we stopped for a late lunch at Hollmann Salon, which is in a courtyard off the street and kind of tricky to find, but it's very much worth it. Because the courtyard houses residential buildings, the restaurant stops seating tables at 9 p.m. and asks that you leave "soft-footed" anytime after that.

We were there for lunch, though, and it was relatively bustling. There seemed to be a private party in one of the dining rooms to the left, and the rooms to the right were just as well populated. We sat in the center section, at a tall table, with a view of the drink making, cheese slicing, and beer pouring at the bar in the middle of the room. I wish I'd taken some photos. The chandelier was pretty and the space was modern, yet warm.

The server introduced the lunch menu to us almost apologetically as "small," but there was a decent selection of mains. We decided to try one of their sampler offerings, though -- a combination of 3, 4, or 5 of the mains in smaller portions. We got a cucumber salad, a goulash, a pork dish, a ravioli, and something with thin slices of beef and red cabbage.

It was ALL very fantastic. And it was nice to be able to try so many different things! While we were eating, I saw a guy at the table next to us receive a crepe for dessert, but I hadn't seen it on the menu, so I asked our server. She said it was a breakfast item, but she would ask the chef if he'd mind making one for me.

He didn't mind.

So, I got to eat a delicious chocolate crepe (sadly, no bananas) to finish off a wonderful meal.

Highly recommended!

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We'd booked a bit of a tour for today. You can buy a "combo" ticket for a train from Vienna to Melk, entrance to the Abbey, a river cruise down the Danube, then a train from Krems back to Vienna. It's pretty touristy, but it's a nice way to see some of the Wachau Valley if you don't have much time (which we didn't).

The Abbey was grandiose and pretty, including the gardens and the view, and the river cruise was pleasant -- if windy and a bit cold on the exposed top of the boat.

I accidentally took a few photos in the library of the abbey before I was told that wasn't allowed. It was such a gorgeous space, and I'm (not-so-secretly) glad I got a few shots off, haha. (Incidentally, the church was just as gorgeous -- a bit ostentatious even, maybe -- and photos sans flash are allowed in there.)

I also had a fantastic lunch in Melk before we boarded the boat at the restaurant of a hotel on the main drag: pumpkin gnocchi with zucchini, peppers, arugula, and balsamic. More pumpkin -- yum!

We had about 45 minutes to wander through Krems before boarding our train back to Vienna, and their old town is quaint, but nothing stood out. We had hot tea and goulash soup to warm up at a place called Cafe Berger after the breezy boat ride.

A fun little day trip from Vienna if you're looking to get out of the city.

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On our last day in Vienna, I spent the morning working at a little cafe around the corner called Kaffemik, then we had a nice lunch at a homey place called Restaurant Chamäleon near St. Stephens, and then we took a tour of the Vienna opera house, but the best part of the day was our dinner -- I had been looking forward to it for days!

It was by FAR the highlight of Vienna for me.

Not only is this restaurant on my favorite named street in the city (Gutenberggasse -- hooray, Gutenberg!), but it has an awesome concept!

They call it "running cooking." The restaurant has no menu. You tell your server (who tells the chef) anything you don't like or are allergic to, and then they just bring you dishes -- everything is a surprise!

The basic dinner is three courses for 22 euros a person, and if you are still hungry after those three, they just keep bringing you new dishes until you say stop. (Each additional dish is between 5 and 7 euros per.)

It was the best!

We discovered after watching what other patrons were served that everyone basically gets the same dishes on a given night, but if you've said you don't like one of the main ingredients, etc., then they have an alternate dish (or two) for each course.

Our meal went like this:

First course: Lentils and a mushroom gravy with some kind of fried (?) cheese ball on top.

Second course: I had an octopus cake with avocado and greens, and my parents had a root veggie soup with sautéed mushrooms (after they nixed the octopus).

Third course: Salmon with sweet potato puree, cardamom, and maybe parsnips? The salmon was cooked PERFECTLY.

Then Dad and I got a fourth course, because why not?! It was calf meat with sweet potato "chips" and wasabi-flavored mashed potatoes in gravy.

Our waiter suggested an Austrian wine after we requested white over red, and it was light and went well with everything.

THEN (obviously) we got a dessert course. At first we were bummed it wasn't chocolate, but then we realized how delicious it was anyway: A cheese dumpling with some kind of tiny little dark berry, apricot chutney, and mint. NOM.

Perhaps to satisfy us, or maybe fate, when the server brought our check, we each also got a little chocolate truffle that was maybe the most amazing little piece of chocolate I've ever eaten!

Speaking of the service, our waiter was adorable and so helpful. He explained everything very patiently and smiled the whole time. His English was fantastic. (Consider learning and remembering phrases like "apricot chutney" and "chili tendrils" in another language!)

The restaurant is small and cozy, with dark red walls and a piano crammed in the corner, seemingly as an afterthought. The kitchen is smaller than you'd expect, and you can peek in through the door as you pass by to see a bit of the magic happening.

If I lived in Vienna, I'd come here once a month just for a thrill. We all ate dishes we'd likely never order off a menu, but we LOVED everything. It's nice to expand your horizons and surprise yourself sometimes! I totally loved this place -- I knew I would.

VERY highly recommended!

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