For our first night in Vienna, we stayed close to the hotel with a recommendation from the front desk. Gasthaus am Spittelberg serves classic Vienna-style food with pasta options as well. We all enjoyed our dishes and more or less had the place to ourselves on a Monday night. Just outside the front entrance was the small Spittelberg Christmas market, so we explored a few stalls and shops as well.
Our first choice for dinner on Monday (it was booked), we managed to get a table for Tuesday night at Zu ebener Erde und Erster Stock and were not disappointed! The food was great and the owner is an absolute character. Everyone enjoyed their choices and Eric got a special ribbing from the owner after forgetting to eat his side salad (Eric’s note: I never even saw it!) that came with his Altwiener Backfleish (beef in mustard), similar to a Wiener Schnitzel but with beef instead of veal [first photo]. I had a beef tartare appetizer (which was a little heavy on the onions) and the saddle cut venison (which turned out to be a filet).
Needing a bit of a break from rich stews and such, we opted for Italian on Wednesday night. We found some good reviews for Pizzeria Osteria da Giovanni so we had the hotel make an early reservation so E’s parents had enough time to make their 8pm concert. Eric and I split a pumpkin soup and a ham pizza, both were very good. The house red was nice Austrian cuvee which went well with our dinner.
After our meal, Eric was craving a dessert so we searched for an open cafe. After a few failed attempts, Cafe Griensteidl was a light-strewn beacon offering several options. Eric had a nice chocolate poppy torte (mohntorte) and I ordered an extremely rich esterhazytorte (chocolate buttercream sandwiched between several layers of sponge cake). It goes without saying that they were tasty.
After returning from Prague we had one last night in Vienna, so we opted for dinner at Glacis-Beisl which was located directly behind our hotel. The outdoor patio was completely decked out in lights and in warmer weather would have made a lovely hang out space. We were seated in a cozy corner table and selected some traditional items from the menu. I got the potato pierogies and Eric had the goulash. They also had a few local wines by the glass, so I tried a blaufrankish and a cuvee.
One of our favorite places from our previous trip in 2009, Wine Quartier did not disappoint four years later. I still think this is one of the best places to try Austrian wine as they offer about a dozen reds and whites available by the glass for $5-6 a pour. The only downside is the smokiness of the small space, be sure to wear something you can air out after your visit.
- Gruner Veltliner – weinviertel dac neuberg-schanz, weingut schloss maissau. €4.40 – nice acidity, good dinner wine
- Riesling 2011 – vom urgenstein, weingut winzerhof stift roschitz €4.70 – really nice, trocken, stonefruit – Eric’s favorite, ordered twice!
- Pinot Noir 2007 – in feldern weingut hofbauer ludwig €4.30 – My favorite of the three!
- Cuvee Hutberg 2009 (blend of zweigelt, saint laurent blauburgunder) – weingut schofmann Haugsdorf. €4.00 – dry with dark fruit and really strong tannins. Almost licorice flavor on finish.
- Cuvee Galgenberg 2011 (st. laurent and pinot noir) – weingut gruber roschitz – young, tasty, red fruit and nice spice.
Highlander Scottish Pub – Went out for a quick scotch on Monday night. First part of the bar was very crowded and smoky but as you went further back there was more seating options. The online menu was out of date and the printed menu didn’t list any of the specials but the waiter was pretty helpful with suggestions. The non-highlight of the evening was a drunk blonde falling into me (seated/minding my own business) and nearly knocking me and my drink over.