Chanoy Honeymoon: Vienna, November 2015

Note – photo gallery at the bottom of this post.

Vienna was always planned as a chill-out and relaxation stop for us on our trip, as the first destination after a month of driving around France, Spain and Portugal. For those who spend a lot of time in the car, you’ll know how exhausting it can be – not just physically, but mentally as well as you spend your time concentrating on the road. Combined with endless days of sightseeing and roaming around a new city, it was a truly exhausting month!

So with that in mind, we booked eight nights in a much nicer Airbnb apartment in Vienna. We knew that if we were doing the usual tourist thing of spending all day out seeing the sights, we probably wouldn’t need that many days in Vienna – five nights might have been enough. But we wanted to stretch out our time in Vienna to be a more relaxing trip with sleep-ins in the mornings, the occasional lazy afternoon, and quiet cozy nights in.

Obviously, it doesn’t mean that we didn’t go out though! We spent a lot of time wandering around the old part of Vienna, soaking in the huge palaces and impressive monuments. We fell in love with the beautiful foliage in Vienna’s public parks and gardens – it was the first real sign of autumn that we had encountered on our trip, and the range of colours in the trees was purely magical. I might be too much of a city girl when I’m in Australia, but I can honestly say that I’ve never encountered that richness of colour in an Australian autumn.

I particularly enjoyed our visit out to Schonbrunn palace which combined the beauty of extensive gardens going through the changing colours of autumn, with the opulence and the history of the Hapsburg royal family. While the building itself doesn’t have a particularly ornate exterior, the interior definitely makes up for it – and the audio-guided tour is superb. The tour concentrates primarily on the most famous ruler of the Hapsburg dynasty, the Queen and Empress Maria Theresa, and also one of the last Kings of Austria, Franz Joseph I – both powerful and influential leaders in their own way.

By far the best day that I had in Vienna was the day of my 29th birthday. It started early with K cooking me brioche French toast, and then continued with the fantastic meal that we had at Restaurant Steirereck. We went on to visit the Prater amusement park in the late afternoon, and took a ride on the historic Wiener Riesenrad, or Vienna Ferris Wheel which dates back to 1897. We finished the day by watching Tom Hiddleston’s (my favourite actor!) new film Crimson Peak at the Viennese English language cinema, the Haydn Kino. It was literally the perfect day – great food, an amusement park, and watching my favourite actor in a new film.

Speaking of great food, we had a series of great meals while in Vienna. Steirereck was by far and away the best meal, but we also enjoyed our traditional meal at Zum Alten Fassl. The meal we had at Restaurant Weimar before attending the opera was a little more disappointing, but you can’t win them all. At least we had some great casual street-side eats – bratwursts, hotdogs, pastries, strudels. One of my favourite discoveries was the realisation that all supermarkets offer a deli counter where you can request a DIY sandwich – just pick your favourite cold meats and cheeses, and they’ll slice it up for you and make it into a sandwich for only around 2 or 3 Euro.

I can’t finish any entry about Vienna without quickly mentioning the best sweet wafers I’ve ever had – the Manner Neapolitan wafers. Yes, they are better than Loackers! A Vienna specialty, they are truly irresistible, and I think I ate almost a pack a day while I was there. I highly recommend trying the Manner wafers if you ever see them available.

I really loved our visit to Vienna, but I know it’s not for everyone. If you’re not that into history, and not that into walking around parks and gardens, it’s not for you. But if you love beautiful buildings and landscapes and a place that bleeds history in every cobblestone, Vienna is the place to go. It’s a particularly relaxed and laid-back city (everything is closed on Sunday so people can have family time!), and a perfect stop if you’re looking for a bit of a break in a longer trip – plus it’s in close proximity to Bratislava which is an interesting peek into a post-Soviet city.

Review: Restaurant Weimar, Vienna Austria

A fantastic meal at Restaurant Steirereck wasn’t the only way I got to celebrate my birthday while we were in Vienna. K also treated me to a performance of The Merry Widow at the Volksoper the day after my birthday – a beautiful operetta that was quite hilarious in parts. With the performance starting at 7pm, we wandered down the road to Restaurant Weimar to have a quick dinner before the performance.


First opened in 1900, Restaurant Weimar claims to be one of the oldest traditional ‘coffeehouses’ that are such an integral part of Viennese culture. Given its proximity to the Volksoper, there’s a long tradition of performers, artists, and other people connected with the Opera having their meals at Restaurant Weimar.

Apfelsaft gespritz, 3.60 Euro
Apfelsaft gespritz, 3.60 Euro

Our waiter gave us German menus to start, but quickly switched them for English menus once he saw us just blankly staring at the German wording trying to figure out what everything meant! While I was pretty good at recognising words like “kartoffelkloesse” and “spaetzle”, translating a whole menu was beyond my skill level. He took our drink orders as well – K just had a sparkling water, but I chose one of my favourite German drinks, an Apfelsaft gespritz where a bottle of apple juice is diluted with sparkling water to make it more refreshing and spritzier!

Roasted sausages served with assorted salad and potatoes, 11.80 Euro
Roasted sausages served with assorted salad and potatoes, 11.80 Euro

I chose to have the Roasted Sausages for my meal, decadently wrapped in bacon before being cooked to crispy, with the savoury sausage meat near-bursting from its skin. Honestly, I think the sausages would have been tasty enough on their own – the wrapped bacon was overkill, and almost made it too salty.


The sausages were served with an ‘assorted salad’ – iceberg lettuce, spinach leaves, and some cherry tomatoes. A little over-dressed, but then again, I’ve found that to be a problem with almost every restaurant that we went to in Austria and Germany – people seem to get a bit vinaigrette-happy!

Pork wiener schnitzel served with parsley potatoes, 14.50 Euro
Pork wiener schnitzel served with parsley potatoes, 14.50 Euro

K chose the Pork Wiener Schnitzel for his meal. Honestly, not a great schnitzel – you can tell from the photo that the batter was a little bit lumpy and much too thick. It really doesn’t rate well next to excellent schnitzel that we had at Zum Alten Fassl just a few days earlier.


The highlight of the schnitzel was the parsley potatoes that it was served with. The parsley was minimal, but the potatoes were lovely and buttery and soft. Not the best choice if you’re trying to watch what you eat, as the layer of melted butter at the bottom of the bowl was quite alarming!

Decaffeinated cappuccino

We finished off our meal with a hot drink each. K had a decaffeinated cappuccino – which was an interesting experience in ordering, as the menu obviously doesn’t state ‘decaffeinated’ coffee at all. Trying to make our waiter understand what K wanted was interesting – for those who need to know for future reference, I believe you ask for “koffeinfrei” in Austria, and “entkoffeiniert” in Germany (someone please correct me if I’m wrong!).

Hot chocolate

I had a hot chocolate which like the coffee, was served with a little glass of “Viennese water” as per the coffeehouse tradition. It’s a brilliant idea, as the hot chocolate was very creamy and rich and just having a little glass of water to drink after the hot chocolate really helps to cleanse your palate.

Sacher torte
Sacher torte

A Viennese dessert specialty is the Sacher Torte – a simple chocolate cake covered with a thin layer of apricot jam, before being covered again with chocolate icing. You can just see the layer of apricot jam in this photo. There’s a bit of controversy around the ‘original’ sacher torte and where it was made, but the Hotel Sacher in Vienna seems to have the most legitimate claim – the torte is named after them after all! It’s a beautiful torte, with a surprisingly light cake that is really made perfectly sinful by the rich chocolatey icing and the sweet but subtle apricot jam. This is one to try making at home!


We finished off our desserts by ordering an apfelstrudel – another classic traditional Viennese dessert. I found the crust on this strudel a little bit too thick, but the apple mix inside was quite delicious and reminiscent of Christmas with its hints of cinnamon and other spices.

Restaurant Weimar may be a Viennese classic, but I think that their reputation is helped by their convenient location near the Volksoper. When there aren’t that many other dining options available in the area, they become a default choice for many opera attendees. We certainly had better wiener schnitzels elsewhere, and the other main meals were a little lacklustre. By all means, pop into Restaurant Weimar for a coffee and cake after the opera, but try and look elsewhere for your main meal.

Restaurant Weimar is located at 68 Währinger Str, Vienna.

Review: Restaurant Steirereck, Vienna Austria

Note – photo gallery at the bottom of this post.

Special occasions ought to be celebrated with a special meal. In 2014, I went to O Bar and Dining for my birthday, two years before that I went to Rockpool on George. I knew that we were going to be Vienna for my birthday in November 2015, and so I booked K and I in for a fancy birthday lunch at Restaurant Steirereck, named at number 15 in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants.

I didn’t know much about the restaurant’s ethos prior to our meal, and really only knew the basics from its blurb on the World’s 50 Best website – farm to fork eating, modern Austrian cuisine, chef and owner trained by Joel Robuchon. What I didn’t expect was to have a mind-blowingly amazing meal, on par with my experiences at The Fat Duck Melbourne and Sepia.

It started on arrival as we were shown in and seated at a table that had a subtle “Happy Birthday” message under the tablecloth – a nice little surprise. It continued with excellent service, immersion of the diner into the meal, a slight touch of theatre, and true attention to detail. Sometimes it’s the little things that really enhance the experience, like how Steirereck places a little card describing the upcoming course to you, allowing you to better appreciate the origins of what you’re eating.

What I loved most about Steirereck was its traditional service, an interesting choice in what is otherwise a very modern building. A highlight of this traditional service was the use of specialised ‘carts’ to accompany different parts of the dining experience:

  • An aperitif cart for both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks to accompany your meal (wines are offered separately)
  • A bread cart, featuring 30 different breads from seven different bakeries located around Vienna. Choose as many or as few as you want!
  • A cheese cart, featuring 55 different cheeses from a variety of different regions. The selection of smelly cheeses is particular impressive and
  • A tea cart, featuring not only a number of canisters of dried tea leaves from around the world, but also a number of pot plants grown on the rooftop of the restaurant. On request, the waiter could create a custom blend of tea with snippings from these pot plants.
  • A petit fours cart mimicking the structure and sounds of a bee hive, in line with the honey theme of all the petit fours.
  • A digestif cart which we didn’t take part in, but which featured a number of bottles of liquors to suit any taste.

What I also liked is how they catered to those who don’t drink alcohol. I’ve already mentioned how disappointing it was that a restaurant like L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon didn’t offer a good range of non-alcoholic drinks, so it was a pleasant surprise that Steirereck is much more thoughtful in that area. When I initially turned down the aperitif offered by the waiter, he followed up with “I do have a non-alcoholic option if you prefer?” and made me a fantastic spritzy berry aperitif.

Along the same lines, the tea trolley was one of my personal highlights of the meal. I was a bit surprised when the waitress asked if we wanted tea or coffee to finish the meal, then walked away after I asked for tea. Was she going to just give me a generic tea without asking what specific tea I would like? Imagine my surprise when the sommelier rolled up the tea trolley and proceeded to give us a sniff sample of each of the pot plants – the chocolate mint plant was particularly delectable, but I opted for a more refreshing citrus blend instead, including sprigs of lemongrass. That attention to detail, and commitment to the freshest ingredients for a fantastic individualised experience is simply superb.

The dishes were, naturally, simply delectable. My personal highlight was the Char with Beeswax, where a piece of char is cooked right in front of your eyes through ‘baking’ in hot beeswax, which leave the piece of char with a glossy firm white flesh. I also loved the look and subtle taste of K’s Chioggia Beets, with its delicate combination of colours and flavours. The dishes were simple in the sense that they used simple, homegrown or otherwise locally sourced ingredients, but each dish was exquisitely put together with both visual and palate appeal.

I can highly recommend Restaurant Steirereck as an amazing restaurant for a fantastic dining experience. We went for a special occasion and had a larger lunch menu with more courses, but it looks as though they’re very open to having people go in for casual one-course lunches, as there seemed to be a number of people who go in for shorter business lunches for only an hour. Steirereck is one in a million, and completely deserves their ranking in the World’s 50 Top Restaurants list.

The Lunch Menu

  • Appetisers including marinated celery in shoyu, cucumbers in eucalyptus powder and sour cream, baby sweet corn, fried soy milk
  • First Course: ‘Schwarzauer’ Mountain Trout with Melon, Cucumber and Etiolated Pea Shoots AND Char with Beeswax, Yellow Carrot, ‘Pollen’ and Sour Cream
  • Second Course: Chioggia Beets with Roses, Porcini Mushrooms & Verbena AND Gulash from Alpine Beef with Leek-Bread Roulade and Pickled Vegetables
  • Third Course: Venison with Squash, Baby Artichokes & Orange Blossom AND Cat Fish Poached in Coconut Milk with Coconut Farina, Porcini and Water Chestnuts
  • Fourth Course: Quince with Burnt Milk & Lavender AND Apricot Soufflee with Amaranth and Lemon Verbena
  • Petit Fours

Restaurant Steirereck is located at 2A Am Heumarkt im Stadtpark, Vienna.