Tour Locations | The Vienna Food Walk
LOCATION 22 | The Vienna Food Walk
Brezl Gwölb - Third Food Stop
Alright, I see I have peaked you curiosity and appetite. Let's begin.
I will start with the dishes that you should choose from.
[3 SECONDS PAUSE]
Alright, the dishes you should select from are Tafelspitz, Fiakergulasch or Wiener Schnitzel. This should be accompanied by a beer or a wine, preferably a Grüner Veltliner. And be sure to ask for a pretzel as this place is famous for it, but that will be explained later.
Tafelspitz is the most imperial dish that Austrians can think of. Food legend has it that Emperor Franz Josef, second to last emperor, who married to Sissy and helped start World War 1, had Tafelspitz every day of his life. He must have been a rather boring man as Tafelspitz is boiled beef. It's boiled beef that has been boiled in a beef stock that has been used for boiling beef at least 20 times. So it's beef-infused beef, very beefy. Because boiled meat does not have a lot of flavour on its own, we serve it with two sauces: an apple and horseradish sauce, with a lot of apples and a tiny hint of horseradish and a sour cream and chive sauce. Meat is protein and in Austria, when serving protein, there have to be carbs nearby, so as a side dish for the Tafelspitz you are going to get a Gröstl. There is no translation for that word, but it can be best described as mashed browns because it is in between hash browns and mashed potatoes.
Gulasch is a Hungarian word and a Hungarian dish, but in Hungary, a Gulasch is a very hot and spicy soup. In Vienna we don't do hot spices, so the Viennese version is a beef stew. It is made with as much onions as meat and a lot of sweet red bell pepper - paprika - powder. Very important is that the bell pepper powder is not roasted at all so it is very sweet. The version of the dish here is the Fiakergulasch. A Fiaker is a horse-drawn carriage that used to be the mode of transportation in Vienna before the car. Nowadays they are just for tourists. But Fiakers were always in a hurry, so they only got one meal per day and that was ordinarily the Fiakergulasch. That's why it has everything: There is a fried egg on top for breakfast, the stew below, a fried sausage and a pickle as the afternoon snack. The side dish is steamed potatoes. The fried sausage is called wiener around the world. It can never be called wiener here. Wiener in German means person from Vienna - we are not sausages! - The sausage was invented in Vienna, but by a butcher from Frankfurt, that's why this sausage will always be called Frankfurter here!
Finally the Wiener Schnitzel. A genuine schnitzel is very hard to find and it is rather expensive. The posh meat in Vienna is beef and the poshest meat that we can think of is therefore veal. So the schnitzel has to be veal. it needs to be cut from the shoulder and it must be pounded till it is only two millimetres thick. It is breaded via the standard method using flour, eggs and breadcrumbs. We are using two tablespoons of gassed mineral water in the eggs, as we want the batter to puff away from the meat and not stick to the meat. Then we are using a large pan and put 2 centimetres of clarified butter into it. We let the schnitzel brown on one side for two minutes and two minutes on the other side. With panfrying in clarified butter, one can only make three schnitzels. After that, the butter turns bitter and has to be thrown away. That's why a true Wiener Schnitzel will set you back about 20 EURs.
So I hope you made your decision and will order one of the three classical dishes. I will now continue with a little history about the building that you are in.
This place was first mentioned in 1069 as a water cistern. The name Brezel Gwölb has two words: Brezel is the German word for pretzel and Gwölb is the German word for vaulted ceiling or cellar. So if you go down into the cellar you will see a very nice Gwölb, when looking at the ceiling. At that point in time, Vienna only had three wells inside the city walls, therefore the city needed buildings like this to store Danube water to prepare for sieges.
Vienna is a walled city built on a swamp, so whenever people wanted to have new buildings, old buildings were used as the foundation. So the street level rose accordingly. The cellar was street level in 1069. About 200 years later, Vienna changed the flow of the river and the cisterns were no longer needed. The building belonged to the Catholic church and is located in the heart of the medieval Jewish district. The church wanted to annoy the Jews, so they put a tanner - a leather maker - into the building. But the Jews were not stupid and they had money, so they bought an estate for the tanner outside the city and then made the place into a pretzel bakery. It was a pretzel bakery for about 600 years. Then it became a tavern and then a restaurant. They are still making the pretzels themselves, so please have a pretzel as well.
So if you do decide to stay for the food, then please enjoy. Remember, you can close off the tour. When you're done, exit the restaurant and start the tour outside by choosing Resume. Otherwise if you prefer to keep moving, exit the restaurant and turn right.