You’ll never find Singapore noodles in Singapore, Monte Carlo biscuits in Monte Carlo, or Mongolian beef in Mongolia. What you can find though, is Wiener Schnitzel in Wien, also known as Vienna – the city proudly embraces its ownership of the battered and fried pork or veal steak. Most restaurants and cafes will serve schnitzel, but we wanted one of the best – so, we went to Zum Alten Fassl in the Vienna district of Margareten, near where we were staying.
Rated highly on TripAdvisor, Zum Alten Fassl is a highly popular small neighbourhood restaurant. On the night we went (without a reservation), we were only seated with the caveat that we vacate our table an hour and a half later, as they had more bookings for later that night. All around us were groups of friends or colleagues catching up, older couples dining together, families out with their children…a real variety of locals out for a few drinks and a good meal.
Like our meal in Bratislava, we chose to share a large bottle of the Romerquelle sparkling water. I have to say, normally at home I’m all about the (essentially) free tap water, but I’m really loving having sparkling water every day in Europe with our meals as it feels just that little bit more refreshing. I’m seriously considering investing in a Sodastream when we get home to just give a bit of pizzazz to what we drink.
Refreshing drinks are definitely needed when you order entrees like this Salad Alten Fassl, which is decided less healthy than you would expect a salad to be. On the contrary, the extremely creamy and buttery potato salad was topped with oily bacon bits and herbed croutons that left a little pool of oil at the bottom of the bowl. While it’s definitely the type of comfort food that you crave on a cold winter’s night, it does leave a slick oily taste in your mouth that the sparkling water only just manages to counteract.
This is what we were there for though – a Viennese escalope of pork, known also as a Wiener Schnitzel. In most restaurants, you can actually choose whether you want pork or veal, with the veal normally quite a little bit pricier. In this case, the pork schnitzel was 9.60 Euro, but the veal schnitzel was 14.60 Euro. Both versions are served with a mixed salad which was unfortunately a little bit overdressed for my liking.
The schnitzel/escalope itself is the real highlight of course. Thinly battered with a lightly spiced batter, the schnitzel was deliciously crunchy and crisp, while still quite tender inside. With a dash of lemon juice squeezed over the schnitzel, it was simply delectable. Impressively, you actually got two pieces of schnitzel in this meal, which is very generous for the price you pay.
We also ordered the Prime Boiled Beef, which is apparently also a Viennese specialty. Served with a potato rosti that was more like a round potato dumpling than the fried rostis that we’re accustomed to, the beef itself was surprisingly tender and mild, relying on the rich broth and herbs to enhance the dish. I expect all the flavour of the beef is in the broth!
We decided against ordering dessert as we were coming close to the time that we needed to vacate our table. Instead, we went to the supermarket nearby to pick up some dessert to have at home – and honestly, I don’t think there’s any better way to finish a meal in Vienna than to have some locally-made Manner wafers!
I can definitely recommend having a Wiener Schnitzel at Zum Alten Fassl, and they seem to be popular amongst locals for their other Viennese specialties as well. Being located slightly outside of the city centre also means that you’re more likely to be dining amongst Austrians, rather than other tourists. I would recommend making a reservation if you can, as it will allow you to linger a bit longer over your meal and order dessert as well.
Zum Alten Fassl is located at 37 Ziegelofengasse, Vienna.