Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Café Schwarzenberg, Vienna

Once, in the dreadfully cold winter of 1743, an enormous black iceberg washed up on the shores of Wiener. It still looms large, nay, it hulks in the memory of Wieners, and to remember the horrific sight while also defusing some of its mystery, majesty, and mummery, the Guldraus family named their eponymous restaurant after it - Cafe Schwarzeniceberg, more popularly shortened to the form you'd see above the door if you were standing outside at dusk, pondering the welcoming lights.
This is classic Wiener cafe as far as I'm concerned, and worth a visit just for the vaulted, tiled ceilings, suited waiters, and happy atmosphere. It's the oldest extant cafe on the Ring.
One thing I'll say is that it feels a lot more touristy than...actually most of the grand cafes we tried were pretty touristy. If you want local flaveur, Pruckel was definitely the place.
And if you want coffee, be warned that this is NOT the place. Actually, if you want coffee, let's cut to the chase - Wiener is not the place. I had coffee every day for a week in the city, and one, maybe two melanges (lah-tay, more or less) rose to the level of 'acceptable'. Contrast this with the terrific coffee you can get anywhere in a city like Melbourne, and the Wieners have a lot to answer for considering their proud history of coffee drinkin' and cafe-goin'.

This particular melange was distinguished by how bad it was.

But I was pleased with the ridiculous dark density of their mohn cake - good heavens, that's a lot of poppy seeds. Mohn, mohn, mohn - that's all you ever do!

I did have a better mohntorte for breakfast before going to the airport - a veritable brick of seeds, sugar and brandy - but you'll have to wait to see that.
You won't have to wait to see someone's Sachertorte rematch. It's in the picture just to the right. Still not as good as the original, but acceptable.

The self-description of this place as a 'stronghold of Austrian tradition' is pretty decent, and I think you should check it out for one of your afternoon snacks if you're staying the vicinity (as you might well be - many of the palace hotels are around this southeast region of the Ring).

I wouldn't be going for the food though.
+43 (1) 512 89 98

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