3.30pm:

Sacher Cafe

Sunday Mail - Travel/Escape - - CAFE SOCIETY VIENNA -

With just a day in Vi­enna I can’t re­sist or­der­ing the city’s most fa­mous dish, the golden wiener schnitzel, a spe­cial­ity at the 130-year-old Cafe Landt­mann.

My or­der comes slightly thicker than usual, with the edges no­tice­ably hang­ing off the rim of the plate.

The cafe was once a favoured haunt of Sig­mund Freud, the Aus­trian who in­vented psy­cho­anal­y­sis, but it was shot up by in­vad­ing Rus­sian soldiers in 1945, forc­ing its clo­sure. It soon re­opened and has been a con­tin­u­ous Vi­en­nese cof­fee-house fix­ture with an en­vi­able lo­ca­tion near the city’s splen­did Par­lia­ment Build­ings.

There’s the oblig­a­tory, spec­tac­u­lar range of home­made sea­sonal cakes and pas­tries on dis­play in a large glass cabi­net in the mid­dle of the cafe.

How­ever, I’msav­ing my­self for the sacher­torte at Cafe Sacher later in the af­ter­noon.

In­stead I or­der the de­li­cious, and some­what lighter, elder­flower cake with choco­late lay­ers – sans kaf­fee, though, for if truth be told I’m start­ing to feel as full as the pop­u­lar river cruise ship that de­liv­ered me to Vi­enna.

2.45pm: Cafe

Cafe Cen­tral, Vi­enna’s most fa­mous cof­fee house, dates to 1876. It is said to have been a venue for Lenin and Trot­sky as they plot­ted rev­o­lu­tion over kaf­fee and ap­ple strudel. To­day it’s packed not with rev­o­lu­tion­ar­ies but tourists, de­ter­mined to tick off this stop on their must-see Vi­enna sights list.

In­side is a se­ries of vaulted ceil­ings, rem­i­nis­cent of a chapel rather than a cafe, though this is not a former place of wor­ship. Rather it is the his­toric Palais Fer­ste, Vi­enna’s erst­while Bank and Stock­mar­ket Build­ing. Pol­ished mar­ble col­umns are set be­tween closely packed mar­ble-topped ta­bles.

But as far as cof­fee and stamina is con­cerned I’mal­ready start­ing to run out of steam, so I or­der a pick-me-up glass of Kir Royale and linger for a while, as in­deed you’re meant do in a classy Vi­enna cafe. The last stop on my Vi­en­nese cafe waltz is the home of the sacher­torte – the orig­i­nal recipe is more than 175 years old. The world’s ul­ti­mate choco­late cake was in­vented by Franz Sacher, the founder of the ad­join­ing ho­tel. Such is its fame that the place is packed, but the staff re­main un­fail­ingly cour­te­ous.

In­side it feels more like a pe­tit sa­lon than a cafe, with red flock wall­pa­per, red car­pet and mar­ble table­tops. I or­der sacher­torte and read that as a re­sult of a 1962 court case only the ver­sion here can be called ‘‘ the orig­i­nal sacher­torte’’.

Cafe Sacher’s man­age­ment claim that only a few staff mem­bers have seen the orig­i­nal recipe for the cake, with the recipe it­self locked in a safe. You can take a sou­venir cake fully packed and in a suit­ably el­e­gant car­ton but, af­ter a day like this one, I fig­ure it will be pru­dent to skip din­ner on the ship tonight. The writer was a guest of APT and Sofitel Ho­tels.

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