While David and I have been traveling around Europe with our spouses, we’ve been inspecting as many luxury hotels as possible, taking familiarization tours around each city, and taste-testing the bars and restaurants along the way. Our first stop was Vienna. While David has written up his review of the luxury hotels in Vienna, I thought I would catalog our amazing dining experiences.
On our very first night in Vienna, we were treated to a perfect kick-off dinner at Dstrikt (Thank you to our hosts at the Ritz-Carlton Vienna!) Dstrikt features a contemporary menu with strong ties to traditional Viennese cuisine. The Wiener Schnitzel was the best I’ve ever tried and the menu features home-cooked specialties from the chef’s Grandmother’s recipe box; I loved the rustic dumplings! While we enjoyed the local specialties, Tristan, the restaurant manager, guided us through a tasting of some of his favorite Austrian wines. The highlights for me were the Kollwentz 2011 Steinmuhle, the Wieninger 2011 Pinot Noir, and the unique Zieser Edelfeingrand, which was a perfect finish to our perfect dinner!
During our stay in Vienna, we arranged a tour of the countryside outside the city through our Virtuoso on-site company, Panorama Tours. This gave us a perfect opportunity to tour an amazing medieval monastery, see an imperial family hunting lodge and chapel, and to try a famous restaurant. Located just outside Mayerling, Hanner is an amazing Relais & Chateaux restaurant featuring the finest modern Austrian cuisine. Diners should arrive with a hearty appetite in order to taste all 6 amazing courses. We were not prepared for such an amazing dining adventure and our group could only tuck-in to 3-courses, something I will regret for quite a while! We nibbled on a creatively presented charcuterie “spike” and then I opted for a salad of arctic char sashimi with pea sprouts and a main dish of “wienerwald” deer with goose liver and blackberries. The dessert was a perfect finish; my husband, Josh, had a selection of local cheeses from one of the best cheese carts I’ve ever encountered and I chose the “elder bush” a cream cheese and elderberry concoction that was frozen with liquid nitrogen!
For something a little more rustic than a Relais & Chateaux restaurant, we also wanted to try some Viennese street food, so after our tour of the Hotel Sacher Wien and our much anticipated “battle of the tortes” chocolate cake tasting, we headed to a Würstelstand for some Käsekrainer – delish!
One of my top wish list items for this trip was to visit a Heuriger, an authentic neighborhood wine tavern. These restaurants are popular for serving the current seasons’ wine and, as I quickly learned, Austrians are fond of the young wines. Visiting in late September, we were in prime young harvest and “sturm” season! So, off we went to the town of Gumpoldskirchen to visit Altes Zechhaus, a Heuriger operated by the family Krug since 1549. The Pinot Noir was very good and paired perfectly with both the white and red Hungarian style mushroom goulash, black pudding, and venison!
And, if you’re looking for a great Austrian wine-tasting experience, you must make time for a visit to the Loisium in Langenlois. This was definitely the best vineyard experience I have ever had! We took a short tour of the Design Hotel and a sunny morning walk through the ripe Grüner Veltliner vines and then headed to the vineyard for a tasting experience. The tour was whimsical and lighthearted and the Steininger wines at the end were fantastic (this tour deserves its own blog post!). Our happy faces should tell you we were having a great day! Austrian wine is rarely exported, so overseas visitors should take the rare opportunity to do some shopping and the vineyard can help arrange shipping to the US.
Back in Vienna, we planned to spend our last night at the St. Charles Church for a performance of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. For our pre-concert dinner, I put us in the hands of my pub-loving husband, Josh, who had been to Vienna once before. He insisted that we try the Gasthaus Pöschl, a cozy neighborhood spot that proved to be a crowd pleaser. Pumpkin soup is a seasonal favorite that we encountered at almost every restaurant in both Austria and Germany, but it was best at the Gashaus Pöshel! And, after several meals with wine, it was time to taste some Wiener beer! The Zwickelbier hit the spot!
Our three nights in Vienna went by way too fast and there are still so many restaurants and vineyards that I want to explore. I am definitely planning a return trip!