Monday, December 24, 2012

Cafe Central, Vienna

I was lucky enough to have taken a picture of Cafe Central at night before the afternoon we went, which was lucky considering I forgot to get an exterior shot. Although that pales in comparison to my failure to load a memory card into the camera the following night...

This cafe has an illustrious history involving Lenin, Trotsky, Hitler, Freud and others, but that was the version before the war. This location, which is more than likely more grand than the original, only opened in the 70's and was renovated in the 80's. Now it's the grandest and potentially most touristy of the big cafes (not that I've been to all of them, but it was pretty out there. We felt like there weren't any non-tourists.).

But it looks awesome, doesn't it? This used to be the 'bank and stock market' building, and there are Star-of-David decorations throughout to prove the connection to the Jews. The Jewish museum is in this neighborhood too, but we didn't make it there. Getting here around 1, we had to wait behind 3 or 4 groups, and this wait got worse after we were seated. We were also lucky enough to get 'good' seats - not first rate, but good. We were on the banquettes rather than at a small table with hard chairs, but banquettes near the door, so a bit drafty. Still, good enough to linger for a good 90 minutes. One thing that's great about the little-to-no tip system in Wiener - they never ever bug you to leave so they can get another table and tip.

This was a lunch, meaning you get to admire some food as well as coffee and cakes. We over-ordered a little.

Someone had sausages, healthy appetite there. Maximizing value for money, she chose the beef goulash sauce rather than mustard and horseradish. This was competent, with a thick, heavy, sweet goulash, although we both thought the sausage casings were too thick.
This looked pretty good when they put it down (rather too soon after ordering, when I think about it), and looks worse in the picture as so many things do, but was tasty. It's a 'crispy pork belly' attempt, not a great or awful one, and then disassembled brussels sprouts mixed with carrots and a fair bit of butter. Fatty. My chest hurts again. The cake thing on the right, or which there were two pieces, was truly awful. I didn't eat it, and neither did someone after trying a bite and agreeing with me.

The cakes here are a bit interesting - there are a few traditional torte and strudel options, but for the most part they tend toward the fancy. This is what happens when you order a 'black forest with alcohol' - not much of any of the key ingredients: squid ink, pine needles, and ethly alcohol. Pleasant enough, but nothing to order. 
The melange was something less than pleasant, though as I write this I have indeed had a worse one the following day. You'll have to wait for the name of that illustrious establishment.
But you can stop wondering right now, because the apfelstreudel was mediocre too. They cooked the apples a lot before baking, leaving them mushy in the final analysis, and it was underseasoned. Or underspiced. Or underwhelming.

Well, an interesting cafe right there. You can tell we weren't impressed with the food and drink. But the atmosphere is ace, especially if you get to sit and mellow out on the sofas like we did. No one's going to bug you about spending a lot of time, not even the other tourists standing near you waiting for their turn.

In fact, howzabout just going in, waiting in line for a few minutes so you can look at the walls and ceiling, maybe wander over to the cake case, and then leave for tastier environs?
(+43.1) 533 37 63 Ext. 24 or 61

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