History and Heiner have more in common than the same capital letter. This Konditorei (confectionery) makes Vienna’s established coffee houses look like teenagers. A place for cake, comfort and (excuse me for saying so) a good gossip.
- First established around 1840 and still going strong today
- Inventor of the Kardinalschnitte: one of many, many cakes available on the premises to go with your tea or coffee
- See also: Cake shops | Coffee houses
Home of the Kardinalschnitte
Most locations in Vienna come with a thick veneer of history.
So much so that you almost start to shrug on learning that Beethoven once ate a croissant in this inn. Or yawn at yet another Jugendstil ceiling above your cappuccino.
But let us make an exception for the L. Heiner Konditorei because there is true tradition here.
For example, many coffee houses and similar enjoy a long history. But few enjoy quite the long history of the premises we visited on the Wollzeile. A bakery first opened on the site over 170 years ago with L. Heiner’s founder taking over in 1852 (some 12 years after he first went into business).
Just to put that in perspective: Charles Dickens had yet to write David Copperfield when the first Viennese enjoyed a baked slice of something sweet in the very establishment we sat in. L. Heiner remains a family business, apparently now in its 6th generation.
A wide counter, bursting with the confectioner’s art, confronted us as soon as we entered the building.
The selection included, of course, the Kardinalschnitte, one of the mainstays of the Vienna cake portfolio and invented by Ludwig Heiner himself in 1933.
(A Kardinalschnitte we bought from L. Heiner. The colours were allegedly designed to symbolise those of the Vatican)
The difference to a coffee house comes across in more than just the wider range of cakes, pastries, and handmade chocolates, the latter in boxes decorated with the imperial and municipal insignia of approval granted the Heiner family.
The bentwood-style chairs, for example, had upholstered backs and rested on a carpeted floor. The vaulted ceiling, mirrors and hardwood fittings gave it all a Biedermeier air.
The coffee and cake did come on a silver tray, but without the typical white crockery of the traditional coffee house. Instead, we had patterned plates and cups in a kind of English country style.
Nor was L. Heiner full of quiet alcoves with bespectacled gentlemen peacefully reading papers or writing the next great Austrian novel. The word hubbub might have been invented for the place, which seemed particularly popular with the somewhat older ladies of town. And I say that with respect, given I’m becoming a somewhat older man.
Anyway, our waitress knew her cake recipes and proved friendly and efficient. And, yes, I had a Kardinalschnitte, thereby eating a cake around 90 years after it was invented (possibly on this very spot)…in a Konditorei opened around the time of the 1848 revolutions in Europe and owned by a family business that began when Mozart’s wife was still alive.
Don’t you love history? (And cake.)
How to get to L. Heiner
At the time of writing, L. Heiner has four locations in Vienna (including, by chance, one just down the road from me in a quiet unobtrusive part of town). As mentioned, we visited the oldest site on Wollzeile.
Subway: Just a short walk from Stephansplatz station (U3 and U1 lines), and close to both Stubentor (U3) and Schwedenplatz (U1 and U4)
Tram/bus: Take any of the old town buses (1A, 2A, and 3A) to Stephansplatz, the 3A to Riemergasse, or the 2A to Rotenturmstraße. At a pinch, you could also take the tram 2 to Stubentor or trams 1 and 2 to Schwedenplatz.
Wollzeile is a bit of a cake and food paradise. The same road has, for example, a Diglas coffee house, an Aida, and Café Prückel (one of Vienna’s older coffee houses and regular host of my breakfast meetings).
Address: Wollzeile 9, 1010 Vienna | Website (with details of all L. Heiner locations)