Monday, July 27, 2015

Chasing the world's best chocolate cake

Vienna is wonderful! Little did we know however, that Vienna is home to the "World's best chocolate cake"

Lovely Vienna from atop the cathedral
A major part of our euro trip was based off of google maps and general internet research, working out directions to good restaurants and cafes was done just in time for lunch or dinner. On our very first evening in Vienna google pointed us to a couple of restaurants that had two things going for them - They were in the vicinity of where we were loitering about, and they were super highly rated.

Unfortunately, we were in the city centre, the lovely lovely city centre, which meant that the restaurants were also super expensive and of the fine dining types. This we figured out from getting to these restaurants, peeping in and then looking at the menus put up outside. Not our type of dinner place, given that there were 8 of us and meals were a time for laughter, leg-pulling and general boisterousness.

Strolling around randomly, we accidentally came across Gösser Bierklinik, a lovely pub, that served excellent pub food and some great beer.

Plate full of meat 

Barely managing to decipher the menu, I ended up ordering the "Bauernschmaus" which was described as  garnished sauerkraut with roast pork, smoked pork, sausage, bacon, potatoes and bread dumpling

It was wonderful!

Lesson learned however was that it was pointless for each individual to order a dish for themselves, the portions were large and finishing this plate of delicious pork took some doing.

At some point in the evening, over dinner, one of us, I can't remember who, figured out that Vienna is home to the "World's Best Chocolate Cake".

It was too good to be true. Google told us that it was available at a cafe called Sacher, which was a brisk walk away from the restaurant we were at.

At this point, it is worth noting that we had spent the previous night on a train to Vienna from Venice, waited at the train station for about 4 hours until we got the keys to our AirBnB apartment (our check-in time was at noon), and then spent the rest of the day walking around Vienna in the rain.
We were dressed in, what can be best described as travel casuals and we were on a budget of sorts.

Yet, Sacher and the world's best chocolate cake was a temptation too great to resist, so off we went in search of the famed Sacher Torte, as the cake is called.

The internet had described it as a cafe and we were expecting one of those quaint cafes serving pastries and the like. However, we were in for a bit of surprise when we got to "Hotel" Sacher, for Sacher looked something like this...

Pictures from the Hotel Sacher Website
What we had missed, was that Sacher is apparently amongst the foremost Luxury hotels in Europe. The doorman was dressed in all his finery and all the patrons of the restaurant were in the finest of suits and dresses.

We took a long look at the restaurant and we took a long look at each other, took a deep breath and headed right in!

After all, we had walked a couple of kilometres in the cold rain and the cake seemed within reach. This place was super posh. There was the customary coat-check - a place where, I am quite certain, the regular patrons deposited their Burberry Trench-coats. We, of course just had our travel weary jackets and some 5 Euro umbrellas to be deposited. To his credit, the man at the counter, took them without a word or a change in expression.

We went inside to be seated at a cramped table. The idea was that we would order a couple of slices of the cake between the 8 of us, enough for each one to taste and then scoot back to the safety of our apartment.
The waiter, who it is more apt to refer to as the maître d', broke this bubble. He had figured out that we were a misfit here and sternly but politely pointed out that each of us would have to order something from the menu.

The menu comes with a booklet on the History of Sacher

We had no choice but to sheepishly order some hot chocolate, apple pies and the prize of the evening - Sacher Torte.
"World's best chocolate cake!"

To say that it was a DISAPPOINTMENT would be an understatement. It was a piece of dry cake, that didn't go down well for the price that it demanded.
Maybe we were expecting too much, maybe we were too tired and overawed by the place, but we suspect that the truth is that the cake was far from the world's best.
When we were done, the maître d' stood hovering around expecting a tip. This far in our trip, we had tipped fairly generously and had never spared expense when it came to food or good wine. But tipping an arrogant, rude maître d' for a piece of dry cake was asking for a bit too much. So we left, only stopping to collect our umbrellas and jackets on the way out.

So, if you ever get a chance to go to wonderful Vienna, you know where not to eat cake. Unless of course you want to try the world's most over-rated chocolate cake.