Brödchen are an Austrian institution, little open sandwiches topped with all sorts of wonderful things. Not too bready with the eater's attention being directed squarely on the "filling", which to my mind should always be the interesting part. Topped sandwiches don't get the bread/filling balance right for me, so trying brödchen seemed much more like my kind of lunch!
I had heard all about Trzesniewski, a brödchen eatery which is just off the main shopping street in Vienna. It has been serving the Viennese for over 100 years (I had been told it opened in 1900). Apparently, Franz Kafka was a regular customer! But first we had to get there...
We had tried to find it on Sunday, and failed miserably. The place was closed and without its usual crowds of customers it was easy to walk right past! Shops in Vienna are pretty much all closed on a Sunday, along with many restaurants. If you are spending a Sunday in Vienna, do your homework in advance to find a place to eat which will be open, or you could be roaming around for some time, getting hungrier and hungrier!
Realising our error, we returned during the week. People were happily eating at outdoor tables, making the place easy to spot.
We found the place was completely packed at lunchtime, humming with activity. Trzesniewski is informal, positively canteen style, with space for very few people to either sit or stand inside to eat their cute little sarnies. Yet still, office and shop workers from the local area will queue out of the door to get their hands on these brödchen.
There are 22 varieties, all priced at €1.10. All of the brödchen are on rye bread. Meat, eggs, cheese and vegetable toppings are available. I did two years of German classes back at school (which was - AHEM! - some years ago!) where I learnt very little, and retained virtually nothing. So despite the fact that all of the brödchen are clearly labelled, I had very little idea what I was looking at. There was a single list of translations kept on the counter which I and my fellow tourists had to pass between each other to decipher which little sandwich was which.
I then made my choice of sandwiches, to be confronted with a new choice; what to wash them down with? Hot drinks and juices were all available. After a long morning of tramping around Vienna, however, I was in the mood for something stronger. I was tempted by the exceptionally dinky and sweet eighth of a litre beer stein, called a Pfiff, of lager. But I'm a reluctant beer drinker, and opted for a white wine. After all, Vienna is one of the few capital cities which actually produces its own wine, and in the area more white than red wine is produced.
The Pfiff was very popular, with the majority of locals enjoying one. It's a perfect little tipple to have if you're having to get back to work after lunch, I guess.
Here is my selection:
Tomaten - Tomato
Wilder Paprika - Peppadew pepper, sweet and hot
Pfefferoni scharf - Hot peppers
Gervais mit Zwiebel - Cream cheese with onion
This is Him Indoors' selection:
Pfefferoni scharf - Hot peppers
Geflügelleber - Chicken liver
Champignon - Mushroom
Paprika - red pepper
Thunfisch mit ei - Tuna with egg
By some miracle of timing, we managed to receive our plates just as a pair of diners were leaving a table. We bagged it immediately, and were lucky to be able to sit and enjoy our sandwiches. They were very tasty. Because they are nice, small finger sandwiches, you can put together many flavour combinations in your meal. This really appeals to me. I find ordinary sandwiches rather dull and boring, and too much of the same thing. It was a very enjoyable lunch, and because we had a place to sit, could take our time.
The staff could be described as "unfriendly", but in fairness, they are run ragged. The system by which Trzesniewski is run means that a customer is not served by one member of staff, allowing for perhaps more personal or convivial attention. Your sandwiches are picked out by one member of staff, your drink by another and then you pay yet another member of staff. The Dorotheergasse branch has a very narrow space for the staff to work within, and they literally have to squeeze past each other if, for example, you'd like a paprika brodchen AND a tomato one. I think I'd be stressed and hassled dealing with as many lunchtime customers as I saw on my visit in such a restricted space!
All in all I would recommend Trzesniewski, although I would advise you avoid peak busy periods such as lunchtime.
There are currently 9 branches, according to the Trzesniewski website. Here is their list of branches https://www.trzesniewski.at/filialen in case you are interested in any of the others!
Him Indoors and I paid for our lunch.