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Dinner in Vienna

Dinner in Vienna runs the gamut from casual to sophisticated. Before our night at the opera, we chose the more elegant Plachuttas Gasthaus zur Oper nearby.

We cannot attest to their claim of being the original Weiner schnitzel (not to be confused with the American hot dog chain that doesn’t even serve Weiner schnitzel), but theirs was certainly the best version we had on the trip. Unlike many others which may be pork or chicken, this is the traditional, and more expensive, veal. It’s pounded, breaded, and fried. The veal gave it a richness that you cannot get from pork. And their breading was my far the lightest and airiest. A dousing of fresh lemon and this pub regular felt right at home in classier digs.

For dessert, we had Mrs Smith’s favorite Austrian dessert, the Kaiserschmarr’n. Apparently she’s in good company as this was the choice of Emporer Franz Josef, too. Basically, it’s fluffy, caramelized pieces of pancake usually with plum jam for dipping. Like the schnitzel, this elevated version was the best we tried.

Austrians have a bigger wine scene than Germany and the Czech Republic to the north. However, like their neighbors, they enjoy a good beer. So, we also tried a small, local brewery near the trendy Museum Quarter.

Siebensternbräu (7 Sternbräu) makes a variety of brews and serves them with the sort of terrific comfort fare of a traditional Austrian Beisl, a neighborhood pub.

Varying from the regulars of schnitzel and meat covered in gravy, Mr Smith tried the Käsespätzle, a cheese gnocchi with bacon and fried onions. Austrians love this small pasta and serve it in many forms. This is a rich version that we’d love to try at home – when we’re not dieting. It was the little fried onions, similar to the canned ones that top a green bean casserole, that really made this dish.

Mrs Smith had the goulash, another hearty choice as are most dinners here, especially in winter. Same concept, basically a meat stew, as our experience in Prague but very different flavor.

Comfort foods, a refreshing brew, and the warm, friendly atmosphere of the local biesl provide the perfect antidote to the winter chill.

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