October 3, 2014

Every city and region in Europe has its own special delicacies - some known around the world, others jealously protected by the residents. I grew up in Northern France, where lots of our traditional recipes feature the amazing local seafood, lamb and apples; since moving to England, I've learnt to love classic dishes like toad in the hole and spotted dick (although I still don't understand pickled eggs).

We're so lucky to be able to travel freely in Europe and experience different cultures, especially now it's so easy to get to the continent with Eurotunnel Le Shuttle. My personal rule is always to find out what and where the locals are eating, and do the same - chances are your meal will be better and cheaper than visiting a tourist trap. Here are some of my favourite haunts in Vienna, one of Europe's most beautiful cities; each one a guaranteed local favourite!

Universitätsbräuhaus, Alser Strasse 4

A former hospital pharmacy, the Universitätsbräuhaus was converted into a restaurant in 1998 and has become a firm favourite with Viennese families. You can enjoy fresh, traditional food in one of several private dining rooms or in the sprawling, shady beer garden - homemade barbecue is available throughout the summer, whilst the evening menu includes regional specialities including beef goulash with butter dumplings and Bavarian veal sausage. The garden looks onto the courtyard of the old hospital, which is car-free - always a bonus when eating outside.

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Sachertorte is so popular that Austrians celebrate National Sachertorte Day each December

Cafe Tirolerhof, Führichgasse 8

You can't go to Vienna without enjoying some Sachertorte - but although the Hotel Sacher is undeniably glamorous, it's also chock-full of tourists taking photos and getting chocolate on their shirts. Just round the corner from the Opera House, however, this elegant coffee house recalls the height of Viennese cafe culture. Drop in for a rich cup of coffee and a slice of Sachertorte, or devote a Sunday morning to a proper Austrian breakfast.

Bierochs-Bierkeller, Raaber-Bahn-Gasse 12

Head off the beaten track to this ultra-authentic beerhouse, with traditional vaulted ceilings and a great variety of draft and bottled beers. You might need a few words of German to get by, but beer vocabulary isn't so complicated - 'Fass' means draught, 'Flasche' is bottle and saying 'Noch mal' will get you a refill. Prost!

Le Troquet, Kirchengasse 18

Viennese food is wonderful, but not even the locals want to have schnitzel every night! This French restaurant is nestled in the fashionable seventh district, and focuses on simple cafe food including quiche and a really wonderful croque-monsieur au chèvre. Stick around after dark and watch Le Troquet transform into a wonderfully kitsch cocktail bar - it makes a nice change from all that beer.

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Traditional Austrian meat and cheese on display in the Naschmarkt in Vienna

Lusthaus, Freudenau 254

For the ultimate in luxury, head to the Prater park and this incredible converted hunting lodge, a meeting place for the great and the good for nearly five hundred years. While still classically Viennese, the food at the Lusthaus is more refined than in a regular restaurant - ideal if you want to splash out or feel a little intimidated by the generous Austrian portions! I love the smoked goose breast, the clear beef soup (a Viennese favourite that's particularly flavourful here) and the Kaiserschmarren - a sweet, shredded pancake served with stewed plums.

Vienna is a fantastic place to eat out, but you'll be able to find even more traditional and authentic restaurants if you leave the city and visit some smaller towns. That's why I love being able to take the car on family holidays - the freedom to explore is such an important part of a memorable trip. And wherever you travel with Eurotunnel Le Shuttle, make sure you keep an eye open for where the locals are eating; it's the secret to finding great food without paying a fortune.

Photo Credits:
Hotel Sacher, Wien © Dominik Bartsch
Naschmarkt, Vienna © Jim McDougall
Sacher Torte © Basheer Tome

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