Zum Franzosen

This past weekend was a delight. It was a glimmer of summer to come with lots of sun, friends, a picnic, strolling, ice-cream cones, a lazy mid-afternoon nap, and exploring greater Vienna. I’m back with a few freckles on my nose and some new restaurant discoveries. Let’s start with Zum Franzosen in Perchtoldsdorf.

Where? In case you haven’t heard of Perchtoldsdorf, fret not. I didn’t know much about this town south of Vienna until a few years back, when my husband and I became friends with another couple who call this little medieval Viennese suburb home. In a nutshell? It’s kind of like the Grinzing of the south, and I truly hope that isn’t a faux-pas to say so. (You know Austrians, very loyal to their hometowns. And if within Vienna, their district. And if within a district, their bakery, their Beisl, their street. So ist es.)

To my outsider eyes, Perchtoldsdorf is similar to the little Viennese wine village north of the Gürtel that we all love due to its residential vibe, quaint downtown, history of wine, and overall charm. You can reach it by public transportation from Vienna; it’s perfect for a Saturday afternoon excursion.

We found ourselves in Perchtoldsdorf on Saturday evening to meet up with our friends, and there was no better place for us to do so than over some delicious French fare at the recently-opened Zum Franzosen. Located in a prime spot on Perchtoldsdorf’s main thoroughfare, this modern french cafe (soon to be extended into a cafe+restaurant) is a refreshing addition to small-town dining. We arrived a bit early so at first sat outside for some coffee.

Yes, I just wrote that. We sat outside. (Never mind that we soon had to bolt inside with the onset of a sudden, quick, and summer-esque thunderstorm.) The point is that I dined outside this weekend. That’s a sentence I wasn’t sure I’d ever write again after the great European cold snap that hit us just six short weeks ago. Dramatic? A bit. Traumatic? You know, temperature-wise, this winter really was.

Once inside and joined up with our friends, the culinary adventure began. I started with a tomato soup done oh so right. Served with a sprinkle of baby shrimp, it reminded me of just how difficult it is to actually make a good tomato soup . I’ve tried so many times to succeed with this at home in the kitchen and somehow always end up with mildly good tomato sauce, as in, should go over pasta tomato sauce. Anyhow, this soup? Spot on. Tangy and full-bodied. Wonderful.

Next up for me was the quiche du jour, which of course given the season, was an asparagus quiche. With both white and green asparagus and a flaked-to-perfection crust, this was fresh, filling, and fabulous.

Also on our table? A shrimp and tomato skewer salad.

Husband’s roast beef baguette.

…and the pasta of the week—asparagus, indeed.

The menu was so in tune with seasonal offerings, so of course it changes on a weekly basis.  A peek at this week’s online shows a whole new array of equally enticing items. Now is the time in Austria for asparagus and bärlauch, so get it while you can! Zum Franzosen impeccably achieves French flair using locally-loved seasonal favorites.

The adventure continued, of course, as we moved on to dessert. This crepe above was stuffed with chocolate-nougat sauce and bananas. It was technically my husband’s but well, as I always say, sharing is caring! Poor guy.

With full bellies and happy hearts, (made possible in no small part by the restaurant’s lovely elderberry wine spritzers and the generous pours), we sat back, admired the wall lighting (pretty cool, oder?) and reaped the benefits of our southward jaunt to Perchtoldsdorf. We’ll definitely have to head back when the transformation to full-fledged cafe+restaurant is complete.

Zum Franzosen

Marktplatz 16
2380 Perchtoldsdorf
http://www.zumfranzosen.at/

Cafe Berg

Cafe Berg, in Vienna’s 9th district, is a place I frequent far too infrequently. Thank goodness meeting up with my cousin’s husband (in town at the moment directing a play, ooh la la) provided the perfect excuse to visit. Long overdue!

I think this cafe is one of the first places I ever ate at when new in Vienna. If you’ve never been, put it on your list now! It’s basically your standard altbau cafe with creaky floors, high ceilings, big double-paned windows, and old school charm. Yet this actually provides perfect juxtaposition, for though the place might seem traditional given what I’ve just described, it’s in fact got one of the most open-minded and progressive atmospheres in town. There’s no need to label it as this or that.

Except to say it is lovely.

First opening its doors nearly 20 years ago, the cafe is well-known for it’s diverse clientele, welcoming environment, and an ever-changing menu featuring delicious food. 

It also has Makava ice tea, the Styrian tea I first tried (with my Styrian) at Cafe Nest last month. The label doesn’t lie. Delightful!

Typical to any Viennese cafe, Cafe Berg is stocked full with the latest magazines and newspapers. They’ve also got wi-fi which, though not free, is available for a small price. Yet surfing the internet isn’t why one comes to Cafe Berg. In addition to its accepting atmosphere, the main draw here is the food. The menu is somehow familiar yet inventive, and the presentation of each item? Stunning.

My cousin’s husband, on a break between rehearsals, had the Pumpkin and Feta Risotto served up with fresh parmesan. He said something along the lines of This. Is. Verdammt. Good. €11.

I had a savory tomato-orange-ginger soup to ward off any lingering symptoms of the virus that would not go away. It was an incredible combo of flavors, a bit sinful with the rather generous dollop of cream, and hopefully the burst of immunity I needed to finally get better. Served with bauernbrot, it was scrumptious, every last bite. (er, slurp? sip?) €4.50.

My husband had–wait for it– truffle ravioli with brown butter and parmesan. This was exquisite. It was his order, but um, naja, we kind of shared it in the end. €11.

Sharing is caring.

Head to Cafe Berg with an open mind and a hungry tummy.

Cafe Berg
Berggasse 8
1090 Vienna
http://www.cafe-berg.at/

Salettl

Salettl.  One of my absolute favorite places in Vienna.  Full of whimsy, history, delicious food/drink, views of vineyards, and wonderfully-creaky floorboards, Salettl is a little dreamworld to which I keep finding myself returning.

Heading to this cafe/garden house is like stumbling into The Secret Garden, which, I’ll be honest, is something I definitely dreamed about as a child. Located in the 19th district with sweeping views of Leopoldsberg, Kahlenberg, and Vienna’s vineyards, Salettl is the perfect place to end up at when you’ve got time to breathe in the beautiful scenery.  It’s a favorite weekend jaunt of mine, best reached at the end of a leisurely Sunday walk.

Like most places in Vienna, Salettl is rich in history. It was designed in 1932 by Friedrich Pindt, a student of Otto Wagner.  The little pavilion is now under historical preservation protection. Für immer und ewig. Vienna’s warm autumn continues, so today we sat outside and drank Sturm. (Of course.)

Colder days are also perfect for Salettl, though sometimes I’ll admit the main pavilion gets pretty smoky. Still, there’s nothing more lovely or romantic than being at Salettl, tucked inside with lit candles and a warm drink in hand, watching the snow fall.

Salettl
Hartäckerstrasse 80
1190 Vienna
Open: Daily, 6:30am-1:30am