Saturday, December 22, 2012

Cafe Restaurant Rezidenz Schonbrunn, Vienna

This is a suitable facade for a cafe, yes. Yes it is. One could get used to cafeing in cafes of this ilk. I'm thinking that this is operated by the Querfeld family, the founders of Cafe Landtmann; at any rate, it's part of their group, which also includes Cafe Mozart and a few other museum cafes (or maybe they've sold it and someone's just using their fame). Please forgive me if I'm not disappointed by the fact that this place is a chain - the atmosphere is warm, bustling and pleasant if a little workmanlike; the service is far more welcoming than it needs to be in catering to a captive mob of mixed-nationality tourists (including shedloads of those hatchet-faced, trophy-wived, track-suited Russians), and the food was...was really exceptional considering where it is (see again the captive customer thing).

Ohhh, man, I totally forgot how we got here. I had a quick look online and found that this place was mildly recommended, but I felt like the recommendations were mild, and you know how I love to explore (as does someone, up to a point...a point somewhat before mine). I found a place 20 minutes from the station, a gasthaus that had higher ratings and the promise of some neighborhood atmosphere to go with lunch. So we walked off there, trekking through freezing temperatures (really, it was just below freezing yesterday, I'm not complaining unnecessarily) and deep into a pretty interesting ethnic suburb of Vienna. This was the first time we saw people that looked like Turks and Chinamen in any quantity, and in fact we stopped into a corner grocer that turned out to be Bulgarian - and deeply proud of it.

After at least the aforementioned 20 minutes and several GPS consultations, we had passed a few cute-looking neighborhood places and finally came to Gasthaus Quell. It was closed, which is perfectly normal for Austrian restaurants on Saturdays. Now I know. I was worried about closures on Sundays, or for the holiday season that's upon us, but really didn't think that a restaurant of some repute would be closed on an average Saturday. All of which left me with a hungry, tired wife (who I hasten to add didn't complain a bit) and a long walk back to the station and palace. We tried to go into one of those cute neighborhood places along the way, but were immediately repulsed by a tremendous wave of cigarette smoke. If you're following this trip on the Facebooks as well, you know that I think everyone here smokes, and this didn't prove me wrong.

So a warm, smoke-free cafe was well beyond pleasant, and half a liter of Ottakringer didn't hurt my mood either. Beer for lunch is a good mood-enhancer. Someone's goulash soup was also a good mood enhancer - thinner and spicier than the last version she had, but just as delicious.

This was the point when I looked at the roll and said "OMG it's a KAISER ROLL!!! THEY'RE NAMED AFTER THE KAISER!!!" which in fact I still believe to be the case, and Wikipedia agrees.

Seriously, look at this plate - can you complain about getting this for lunch in a tourist-trap location? I should tell you that it was awfully tasty, because otherwise you could criticize the deconstructivity of the presentation. The cakes on the left are, I think, semolina of some description, and are skwered with a big-ass spear of rosemary. In the back right is cranberry sauce topped with, I kid you not, radish sprouts - Japanese readers would think they were kaiware daikon, but I suspect they were from European red radishes. Still, no doubt what they were. Front right, a poached pear - seriously, a whole pear poached in red wine? And in the middle a sufficient serving of deer goulash.

This doesn't even begin to get into the coffee and cake selection (although the coffee, being in a Viennese cafe, is almost certainly forgettable), and I bet those are worthwhile. For goodness sake, don't bother looking for any other place to eat. Just go here while at Schonbrunn.

Tell 'em the Kaiser sent you.
(01) 24 100-300


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