I introduce you to Gerstner, possibly one of the most beautiful and interesting places that I have sat and enjoyed in my life. It is located in the busy Kartnerstrasse, which is a short stroll from Stephansplatz and is directly opposite the Viennese Opera House, and is the place to be. It was opened in 1847 by Anton and Barbara Gerstner who are acclaimed in Austria for delivering the most delectable items to royalty and everyone else that could afford to experience their hand-made masterpieces over the years. In 1873 Gerstner was even appointed as the Imperial Court confectioner and is a Viennese royal chocolatier. The exterior of this establishment is a light green and shimmering gold colour and is hard to miss; it has a gorgeous display of items in the window, which is hard to resist. Once you enter through the large grand doors, you will be taken aback with how stunning this place is and will immediately see the gorgeous confectionary shop with the winding staircase which leads to more floors of heaven.
Fancy one of the best handmade truffles or pralines in Austria?
Times are changing and the great old Viennese confectionary may one day be a thing of the past but Gerstner is still holding down the fort quite firmly! Number 51 Kartnerstrasse is a leading address for the sweet toothed nomads and the fascinating shop on the ground floor offers sweet delicacies, cakes, cupcakes, petit fours, truffles, pralines, chocolate, and candy bars and so many other delectable items. The shop interior and products it markets are superlative. When I walked in, I immediately knew I would love this place and was certainly wowed when I saw the beautifully packaged sweet items on offer and I am confident that you will be too. It will be quite difficult to make a selection as to which mouthwatering chocolate or candy to select, so I would suggest that you visit this place with another so that you can share a few options as they are certainly worthy every cent.
Examples of candy bars that they have on offer include an apple strudel chocolate bar for 3.90 EUR (5 USD) and a punschkrapferl chocolate bar for 5.30 EUR (6 USD). For those of you that are not aware, both the apple strudel and punschkrapferl are famous Austrian desserts, and Gerstner has formed candy bars through finding a harmony of their flavours so that you can enjoy these desserts in a different form. In respect to individual chocolates that you can purchase, Gerstner is known for its truffles and pralines and offers passion fruit, raspberry, nougat and mint flavoured chocolates. A box of such items costs around 20 EUR (24 USD).
Three delightful floors, one which has the Gerstner garden
As you can see from the photograph of the staircase, Gerstner offers more than just a shop but rather a place where you can stop and rest whilst enjoying some of its treats (which include savoury items too). Upon climbing the winding staircase, you will find yourself at the first floor which is like a large opulent lounge with a champagne bar where you can perch and enjoy a hot or cold drink with some items to satisfy your cravings. The lounge and bar are furnished in a tasteful and traditional style with a lot of comfortable and cosy velvet upholstered sofas and small booths and velvet curtains, with windows looking out onto the elegant façade of the Opera House. If you can, try and get a window seat to enjoy this view but do note that if you are travelling solo, the waitresses may not be so kind in allowing you to sit in such an area as they are for more than two people (which is regretful and the only negative which I encountered during my experience). Breakfast, snacks, desserts and drinks are available in this area.
The best, however, has to be the second floor (which is currently being renovated) and consists of staterooms which are fit for breakfast, brunch, lunch and desserts throughout the day. The staterooms are very luxuriously decorated with gorgeous gold ornamentation, painted ceilings, decorative mirrors, fireplaces and a pianist. There is a truly glittering ambiance to this entire area and it is quite frankly jaw-dropping. In the summertime, there is the Gerstner garden, which is more of an inner courtyard, where you can enjoy some fine ice creams, drinks and heavenly cakes and petit fours under some lush green palm trees. Gerstner is a very elegant place with a lot of Viennese culture and aristocratic surroundings and I do recommend that you visit it, even if only to purchase a small sweet delicacy to take-away.
A slice of the Gerstnertorte or an entire Klimt torte to take away?
On each of the three floors in Gerstner, you will find a display of delicious sweet treats that are ready for your consumption. There will be one challenge, however, which will be which one to pick as there are so many options of handmade cakes, tarts and pastries of different flavours and textures. Examples include a berry tart, yoghurt tart, champagne tart, lime and blackcurrant tart, and strawberry mousse tart, all of which are featured in the photograph and cost 4.10 EUR (5 USD) each. I would recommend that you try the punschkrapferl fondant, which is a pink fondant that has a sponge, apricot, marmalade and rum filling or the pistachio fondant, which in contrast has a green fondant, pistachio marzipan and a sponge filing with apricot and marmalade. The fondants are priced around 4 EUR (5 USD) each.
Alternatively, you may feel that if you’re visiting Gerstner, you need to choose to have the Gerstnertorte, which is a moist and light chocolate cake with chocolate cream and is very different from the Sachertorte (which should really only be devoured at Café Sacher) and costs 3.20 EUR (4 USD). Sweet treats in Gerstner are like fireworks in your mouth. The taste, the texture, the balance and the aroma is just right — bravo to the chef responsible for making these marvellous and memorable creations!
If you happen to fall in love with Gerstner so much, you may be so inclined to purchase an entire cake (for which you have sampled a slice) and the one that I can recommend has to be the Klimt torte which is a celebration of this artist and Gerstner’s tribute to him and his work through a picture perfect cake creation. The Klimt torte is made with a walnut biscuit with chocolate cream, coated in marzipan and decorated with gold flakes (the gold flakes are a must if honouring Klimt as his famous gold phase of work is his most notable). The cost of an entire Klimt torte is 39 EUR (46 USD).
Make a reservation if visiting for brunch or lunch!
Gerstner is one of the oldest and most reputable establishments and I would recommend that as you are likely to be passing by it on your journey through Vienna, you stop by and enjoy one, two or all of its floors for a remarkable and unique experience. The staff in the shop are wonderful and will make great suggestions as you are likely to struggle in deciding which item(s) to purchase due to the ample choice. I would recommend checking out Gerstner’s website and making a reservation if you would like to have brunch or lunch in the states rooms as they are extremely popular. If you are visiting in the evening and have a window seat (whether it be in the lounge on the first floor or in the state rooms on the second floor), you may be lucky to even watch the opera, which is often broadcasted (in the summer months) on a big screen on the Opera House. It should be noted that there is a lift on the ground floor of Gerstner, so if you are unable to climb stairs, you will still be able to access the first and second floor with ease. Enjoy a little taste of opulence at a price which is actually not all that extravagant and let me know about your experience.