Crack open any travel guide on Vienna and one of the top recommendations in this city of culture is going to see a concert, opera or ballet. For those without the luxury of many weeks of leave to spend in a single country, it can be difficult to fit the city’s gorgeous art galleries, museums, palaces, traditional pubs, and modern design stores into a space of a few days. Even less so when you’re trying to cover a handful of European countries all at once.
The Evening in Schönbrunn Palace package experience, therefore, is great for those seeking to up their efficiency by allowing you to experience a concert, opera and ballet during a visit to the Palace, which you should have on your itinerary anyway. Starting with dinner at Das Café Residenz (Café Restaurant Residenz) and ending in the Palace Orangery, it’s a great way to ensure you’re able to schedule a visit to the sprawling complex of intricate gardens, fountains and hedge mazes later in the day, avoiding both the harsh midday sun and peak hour tourist selfie stick saturation. Make sure you catch the tour of the gilded palace interiors, and finish on the last session just in time to sit down for dinner or, better yet, incorporate it into the package.
We started a set menu dinner at 6:30PM, which gave us ample time to finish by the concert’s start at 8PM, and the waiter also had our concert tickets prepared in a beautiful envelope to give to us at the start of dinner, which is always a considerate detail. Our starter was a clear beef consommé with a large quenelle/’dumpling’ of semolina, which has a similar texture to polenta but is made from wheat and not corn. The semolina soaked up the salty flavours of the consommé very well. The consommé is not very strong on the beefy umami so it’s good for those who don’t like the meaty flavour of beef soup.
To continue with the beef theme, our main was a braised beef roast, which was cut to incorporate both sinew and meat. I found the top of the roast to be a little dry, but the beef itself was quite tender. The shallot gravy was definitely a star player, seasoning the roast with its unique balance of herby sweetness and savoury umami. The roasted vine tomatoes with their vivid sweetness introduced a slight acidic note to balance out the buttery, cheesy potato pie.
I had a bite of the enormous spinach and cheese strudel, which was the vegetarian alternative to our main. The pastry, as you might expect with Viennese strudels, was amazingly warm and crunchy. The filling was very soft, almost a little mushy, because I suspect there was potato as well as cheese and spinach incorporated. This was definitely a very filling main – probably even more than the beef.
The dessert, the Orange Surprise, was the highlight of the meal and incorporated a beautifully smooth creme caramel with orange cream, which managed to strike a perfect balance of sweetness, firmness and was enhanced by the textural crunch of the chocolate bits at the bottom. It’s perfect in the summer, where the last thing you need is to be weighed down by a heavy dessert – I could definitely go back for another one!
The Schönbrunn Palace Orangery concert is held within walking distance of the restaurant, in a wing of the palace with a surprisingly modern interior, full of clean white lines and smooth arches, but enhanced by the intricate chandeliers and beautiful tall windows common to all rooms in the palace. Seating is allocated by section but the acoustics of the room were such that you could hear the music well anywhere you sat. We enjoyed a two hour concert, featuring music by Mozart and Strauss performed by a live orchestra, two opera singers and two dancers. It’s not a full scale production and I did wish the dancers had a slightly larger stage to move around in, but, all in all, it’s a solid evening of enjoyment with laughs, beautiful music and some lovely dancing and visuals.
I Ate My Way Through dined as guests of Schloss Schönbrunn Konzerte