Continuing on my Vienna dining experience, I decided to go for some proper Weiner Schnitzel and it turns out the best in town is made by another of the Plachutta family – this time Gast Haus zur Oper. Located just a stone’s throw from the Opera house (where you can see the operas being performed inside on a giant screen in the adjoining square), this is the place to go when you want to sit outside and enjoy the mild Viennese night air while you eat. It’s less formal that its cousin on Woizelle but boasts a friendlier and more attentive staff who seem to have fun in everything they do.
I was first shown to a seat inside, but after asking about the outdoor area, I was promptly shown to an empty spot. Slightly confused, I waited there for a minute while aforementioned fun-loving staff brought out a table and chair from inside while singing at full blast. It reminded me of the scene in the Hobbit where the dwarves clean up after their “breakfast” at Bilbo Baggins’s house although they were considerably larger and the table didn’t quite get tossed from hand to hand.
Before even the menu was presented, I was served some ice water, a basked of various bread rolls, and a small pot of butter-looking stuff. First, let me just say that I love the pretzel bread roll these guys have come up with. It’s as close to carb perfection as you can get and I’d easily make a meal of them without any topping. Until I cracked open the “butter” which was actually a herbed creamy curd (most likely goat milk based) which was incredibly moreish. Between this curd and the pretzel bread I was in serious danger of filling up before the meal.
However, I was there to try the best schnitzel in Vienna and there was nothing that could get in my way. The schnitzel arrived in short order along with a glass of full bodied spicy red wine that was recommended by my waiter (at least I think it was – we had some minor communication issues).
It was brilliant. Absolutely, finger-lickin’, can’t-talk-I’m-eating delicious. I had my concerns given that it was served with just a cleverly carved bit of lemon as a garnish but the lightly fried meat remained tender and juicy. It’s a massive dish too as it has not one but two sizeable portions of schnitzel on the plate as well as a hearty bowl of potato salad as a side. Words fail to describe just how good this schnitzel was and if you only have one meal in Vienna – get this!
It’s fair to say that at this point I was full, but I still had some money left on my meal allowance for the day and the girlfriend had raved about the Kaiserschmarrn dessert here so I had to get it (with a glass of dessert wine to wash it down of course). Composed of a fluffy pancake cut into bite sized chunks then dusted with powdered sugar, it’s a dessert everyone can get on board with. You spear each bit of hot pancake and dip it in a plum/prune sauce which gives a great tart and tangy counterpoint to the sweet pancake. The wine was more or less unmemorable but the Kaiserschmarrn was something I’d highly recommend.
The total bill came to just over €40 (schnitzel – €20, wines – €5 each, dessert – €10) which made it a fairly good value meal as well. Add in the relaxed and classy atmosphere enhanced by the strains of opera in the distance and the entertaining staff, you’ve definitely got a winner and my top spot in Vienna so far.