Neither Cuisine Minceur, involving intricate, low-cal recipes with complicated sauces, or its successor, California cuisine, emphasizing simpler dishes, ever attracted much of a Viennese following. The city's restaurant menus still display tried and true Austrian dishes influenced by the country's Bohemian, Hungarian, German and Italian neighbors.
Vienna restaurants don't get more traditional than longtime tourist favorite, the 73-year-old Drei Husaren (Weihburggasse 4). The question is, can its elegant Viennese ambiance compensate for prices higher than justified by the food? In addition, there is a per person cover charge.
An authentic Beisl (small Vienna tavern serving traditional cuisine) we've being going to for about 25 years is Smutny (Elisabethstrasse 8), just outside the Ring, not far from the Staatsoper and Musikverein. The great Czech beer, Budvar (€3.2), is served vom fass and you'll pay €9 to 13 for hearty dishes such as Tafelspitz and Wienerschnitzel.
At the more upscale Zum Schwarzen Kameel (Bognergasse 5), a sort of combination luxury restaurant and stand-up delicatessen, the old recipes have a lighter touch. Noteworthy are the several fish entrées including feathery light perch filets.
Cozy (11 tables) Zum Kuckuck (Himmelpfortgasse 15), another old favorite of both Gemütlichkeit staff and readers, offers a cuisine more polished than the usual stick-to-the-ribs Austrian fare. Imaginative, fixed-price, four-course dinner menus start at €36 but a two-course lunch menu, featuring pan fried venison filets, in juniper sauce is only €14.
Restaurant Boheme (Spittelberggasse 19), a wine tavern in the romantic Spittelberg quarter near the Hotel Altstadt, offers moderate prices and consistently good food accompanied by classical background music.