When Empress Elisabeth had her candied violets delivered from Demel in the 19th century, this elegant Konditorei had already been making cakes and the like for close on 100 years.
- Window displays are a tourist attraction in their own right
- Enjoy coffee house flair in the seated areas
- The cakes might almost be an art form
- Be sure to pop along to the glass-walled kitchens and watch the bakers work their magic
- See also: Vienna coffee houses | The Konditorei
The K. u. K. Hofzuckerbäckerei
First established in 1786, Demel has carved itself into the history of Vienna and the landscape of the old town centre.
This Konditorei occupies new premises on Kohlmarkt, the pedestrianised street that leads away from the Hofburg palace toward the Graben and Stephansdom cathedral. You might spot the place from a distance because of the people clustered round the windows, admiring the creative displays of the confectioner’s skills.
“New premises” is relative, of course: Demel moved there in the late 1800s. A newspaper of the time wrote (my quick translation):
It’s no more than 100 steps from the previous site of Demel’s sugary ways to the splendour of the new establishment into which the famous court confectioner has moved its paradise for all those Viennese possessed of a sweet tooth.
The counter and store
Opening the entrance doors feels like passing through a time travel portal. Outside, 21st-century Vienna; inside, a Regency confectionery store.
Unlike most of its colleagues in Vienna, Demel has a relatively large shop for over-the-counter sales. The feeling is much like you’d get entering Willy Wonka’s factory.
There are cakes, of course; this is a Viennese Konditorei, after all. I found myself wondering what was a cake and what was a piece of art. In fact, the whole shop area feels like a cross between an art history museum and a confectioners, thanks to all the stylish packaging and charming displays.
The delights all come at a (hefty) price, of course, but this might be an excellent place to pick up a gift, whether artfully-decorated collections of chocolates, a Demel Sachertorte in a wooden box, or those candied violets that Empress Elisabeth so loved.
(Unknown; box of chocolates from the K. und K. Hofzuckerbäckerei Demel from around 1880; Wien Museum Inv.-Nr. 231872; excerpt reproduced with permission under the terms of the CC0 licence; photo by Birgit und Peter Kainz)
The seated areas
Beyond the shop are the coffee house rooms. We had breakfast on the ground floor next to the kitchen.
My wife was a little leery of the occasional noise emanating from the kitchen, but I loved the scents (especially as the apple strudel came out of the oven) and the fact you could view the staff at work through glass walls. There is a strange fascination to watching someone professionally cut a Sachertorte or create an edible elephant with a few twists of marzipan.
I’ve made my way through many breakfasts in all manner of coffee houses, so my palate is a little jaded, but I’m going to give an extra gold star to the wonderful Demel jam in its little glass jar (available from the shop, too).
Oh, and a second gold star goes to the waitress for fast, friendly and attentive service. She even brought extra water to the table unsolicited. Now, those of you in service-oriented countries may wonder what’s great about that, but that has never happened to me before in over 25 years in the city.
The only questionable element to the breakfast was the “Ei im Glas”. I’ll concede that it appears regularly on morning menus in Vienna coffee houses, but it was still a surprise to find my soft-boiled egg already shelled and arriving in a small glass bowl. Still, when in
How to get to Demel
Subway: a short walk from Herrengasse station on the U3 line
Bus: catch the 1A or 2A to Michaelerplatz
Address: Kohlmarkt 14, 1010 Vienna | Website