When in Vienna…

September 25, 2008 at 11:23 pm 16 comments


Well, no sooner than I had promised posts about Colombia that I’m now posting (live-ish) from my first day in Vienna! Am staying in the positively marvellous but amusingly-yet-aptly-named The Ring (aptly because it’s on the Kärntner Ring road) where I have been – a la Bill Bailey – impressed by the in-room Nespresso machine but lamenting about the lack of tea-making facilities….


Just as well, considering it’s all about coffee – or more like, coffeehouses/kaffeehaus, where the atmosphere and surroundings are infinitely more impressive than the brew – it’s not Italy, afterall.

Rewinding a bit, after flying and making my way to the hotel and consulting my itinerary (which was not crafted by myself, mind you), I decided to forgo the boring option of lunching at the hotel’s At Eight restaurant and set off towards Kärntner Strasse – the city’s main pedestrian drag – in search for some grub. I hadn’t had much time to plan my trip, but one place that stood out was Trzesniewski.

This way!

Luckily, it was relatively easy to find… once you turn down that road, look for it on your immediate left. The exterior is so unbelievably nondescript I managed to head about a hundred yards down the road before I realised my bearings didn’t really match up to the map in my hand… so back I went, clocked the slate grey walls and lone door which opened up into a world of miniature egg-based open sandwiches. The ideal tummy filler for me, since by then I only had 2-3 hours before dinner.


Inside, it was just as threadbare and utilitarian as you might have expected from the exterior; just as well, as most customers only have eyes for the glass cabinet holding 20+ varieties of open-faced sandwiches. I was pretty overwhelmed by the choice, and while there’s a useful placard at the front of the shop with English translations of the different types, the identification ‘cards’ in front of each batch of sandwiches don’t. Severe, non-smiling staff had an air of impatience about them, despite the fact it wasn’t very full when I went – so, a little flustered, I just pointed at a few that looked interesting…



Of my selection, the liver was particularly scrumptious, all creamy textures and delicate flavours. Not overly pungent, which always turns me off offal (har har). Herring with onions came a close second, with nice briney fish contrasting with tangy, soft onions. The others were forgettable… Still, it was nice to stand around (there are limited seats) and check out the colourful clientele – everyone from dazed tourists to a particularly gaunt punter who downed his herrings and onions with much gusto, with a man-sized tankard of beer next to him. It’s very much an eat-and-leave place (I’m sure I annoyed the staff to no end by hanging about snapping pics).

After wandering about some more and getting fed up with the gloom and rain, I decided to seek refuge in a kaffeehaus. I’d intended to go to Café Hawelka, but again couldn’t find it (despite it being on the same street!); it’s known to be a very charming mom-and-pop run place (though tragically, Josefine died three years ago) and the intellectual hangout of the 60’s and 70’s. So by chance I wandered past Café Bräunerhof, which had some mighty cosy-looking booths…

Café Bräunerhof

I am already in love with the dichotomy between the elegant/opulent surroundings and a fully relaxed, convivial vibe of Viennese cafés. I could have spent my entire evening there, sipping melange and eating my apfelstrudel (could have done with some freshly whipped cream or some vanilla sauce, though!). It’s not hard to see why these places were the favoured haunts of writers, artists and revolutionaries (and the odd poor boy who could take hours of refuge in these formidable institutions for the price of a coffee).

Plenty more cafés to go to tomorrow, which I feel defeats the purpose of the kaffeehaus – I need more langurorous afternoons to fully enjoy them, instead of flitting all about the place!

The Ring
1, Kärntner Ring 8 (+43 122 122/ http://www.theringhotel.com).

1, Dorotheergasse 1 (512 3291/ http://www.speckmitei.at). Open 8.30am-7.30pm Mon-Fri; 9am-5pm Sat. No credit cards.

Café Bräunerhof
1, Stallburggasse 2 (512 3893). Open 8am-8.30pm Mon-Fri; 8am-6pm Sat; 10am-6pm Sun. No credit cards.


Entry filed under: cafe, europe, travel. Tags: , , , , , , , , .

jerez, part 1 Pork kakuni with scallop congee

16 Comments Add your own

  • 1. American in London  |  September 26, 2008 at 8:32 am

    Hi Charmaine,

    I was in Vienna a few weeks ago and really enjoyed my meal at the Vestibul restaurant, close to the Rathaus. The food and service were good, and the weather was nice enough to sit outside on the terrace with a view of the Rathaus:


    Also, the Osterreicher im Mak (the restaurant in the MAK museum) was a nice, trendyish place for some classic Wiener dishes:


    Have fun!

  • 2. Su-Lin  |  September 26, 2008 at 11:55 am

    Oooooh, Vienna’s on my list of places to go. Poor Blai knows that when we end up there, there’ll be a visit to a different cafe each afternoon!

  • 3. Charmaine  |  September 27, 2008 at 10:59 am

    Alice – Thanks for the tips! I just came back from breakfast at Osterreicher im Mak – gorgeous place. I wish I had time to try the Viennese dishes for lunch/dinner! Am making it my mission to come back again one day already.

    Su-Lin – You simply must make it a priority. It is absolutely amazing, and all the cafés have such different characters!

  • 4. Helen Yuet Ling Pang  |  September 28, 2008 at 8:15 pm

    What fun! Live blogging (at any rate live from the place you’re at). Looking forward to reading more. I’ve just sent the link on to a friend in HK who’s travelling to Vienna next month. Very handy…

  • 5. Charmaine  |  October 1, 2008 at 8:47 am

    Helen – Haha, I only managed one day! I can see why you’d prefer to just do it all when you come back from HK/China/Macau!
    Hope your friend will find it useful.. actually, ChubbyHubby’s Vienna guide is pretty good as well (http://chubbyhubby.net/blog/?p=277).

  • 6. Helen Yuet Ling Pang  |  October 1, 2008 at 8:03 pm

    I might try it once if I have time…Thanks for the link, I’ve sent it on. What an impressive guide!

  • 7. H.Peter  |  October 4, 2008 at 5:00 pm

    Great Pictures. I miss Vienna.
    It’s time to spend more time there.


  • 8. Gavin  |  October 20, 2008 at 11:54 am

    Great postings and terrific Vienna photos on your flickr account.

  • 9. Vivi  |  October 21, 2008 at 10:05 pm

    that booth looks soo inviting…………that is just my vision of a perfect cafe in vienna, comfy sofas with one of those 80’s style dress………wa the bread a buffet style? coz on the picture it says buffet……

    love love your pictures!

  • 10. Croix  |  October 22, 2008 at 10:40 am

    I love Trzesniewski! It’s also close to another one of my favorites: Julius Meinl.

  • 11. londoneater  |  October 26, 2008 at 1:42 am

    Charmaine, there is something waiting for you to claim over at my blog hope you like it ! :D

  • 12. Charmaine  |  November 1, 2008 at 8:34 pm

    H. Peter – I’m starting to miss Vienna, too – especially when I’m back in hectic London!

    Gavin – Danke! I’ll be posting the remaining pictures soon… ;-D

    Vivi – Ooh, welcome back! The bread wasn’t a buffet in that you got to put things onto your plate, but basically yes… you pointed out what you want to the ladies and they’d pile it on a plate for you :-)

    Croix – I missed Julius Meinl.. there were too many tourists I didn’t even feel like going in :S Something for next time.. ;-)

    Kang – Thanks, have left a comment! :-D

  • 13. chinese chic  |  November 7, 2008 at 1:55 pm

    i’m really hooked on ur food blog with all the nice superb pics and intros of places u’ve been to and recommendations for food haunts…i came across ur blog during my research for my upcoming first trip(discounting the numerous childhood trips i took before age 10 which i can’t rem now) to hong kong n will def look into n try some of the places u’ve been to n recommended!! keep up the fantastic blog n looking forward to coming bck to visit ur blog oftn!

  • 14. so many kaffeehausen, so little time « tasty treats!  |  January 29, 2009 at 12:16 am

    […] second day in Vienna (see here for the post on the first day) began without breakfast – the first thing to hit my palate was a […]

  • 15. Trzesniewski, Vienna « Tamarind and Thyme  |  August 9, 2011 at 11:50 pm

    […] this is the final Vienna post! I wanted to try Trzesniewski, a little sandwich shop that Charmaine had written about, and the only opportunity we could find was on Monday morning. We went to their original shop on […]

  • 16. Mark Doctoroff  |  June 11, 2012 at 10:45 pm

    I was in Vienna for a few days in 1986. I still remember the delectable open-faced sandwiches in the shop just down the road from the main cathedral of the city. It must have been Trzesniewski!


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A freelance journalist and full-time gourmand, eating her way mostly through London and Hong Kong.

Current location: London


Charmaine currently digs: the smell of coffee; adding ponzu to everything; bill granger; still eating natto with every meal; caressing her Nikon FM2n.



September 2008
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my flickr photos

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