The sachertorte is Vienna's most famous cake, no small feat since Vienna is known as Europe's cakes and pastry capital. I've read and heard so much about the original sachertorte served in Hotel Sacher and the other original served in Demel and the competition between them that I decided to break from the tour group and seek out the two places instead.
The sachertorte was created by a 16-year old kitchen helper called Franz Sacher who had to come up with a dessert fit for a prince when the prince's chef fell ill. Franz's son Eduard, who trained as a pastry chef, later developed the cake further and served it at the Demel bakery and then at Hotel Sacher. Subsequently, both Demel and Hotel Sacher fought a 9-year legal battle to have the right to use the words "The Original Sacher Torte" until an out-of-court settlement was reached whereby Hotel Sacher had the right to use the label "The Original Sachertorte" while Demel had the right to label its cake "Eduard Sachertorte". To most people oblivious to the fact that it was in Demel that Eduard had developed and perfected his father's cake, and Eduard later became the owner of Demel, the Hotel Sacher's sachertorte is the real thing while those who know the facts swear that Demel 's sachertorte is the original. I didn't care which was original. My mission was to find out which was the better sachertorte.
My first stop was Hotel Sacher. The hotel has other cafes such as Mozart's Cafe, so don't go into the wrong cafe. Hotel Sacher's Sacher Cafe is small and cosy and there was a queue when I was there.
Cafe Sacher's famous sachertorte, 4.90 euros per piece.'Wien' btw is Vienna so I suppose nobody will laugh if you say "Wienna".
I just discovered that my photo here is very similar to the one in Wiki. Apparently, a frequent customer of both Demel and Cafe Sacher observed that the original sachertorte served when Eduard's wife was alive was never a 2-layered cake sandwiched with marmalade. Now that's something I just learnt when writing this post. I looked at both cakes in my photos and it's true. The sachertorte in Cafe Sacher had two layers sanwiched together while the one from Demel was not layered.
The chocolate icing on the cake was very good and rich but the cake was grainy in texture, dry yet soaked in a sweet syrup or maybe it was really marmalade. I don't know if you know what I mean by a cake texture that's dry yet soaked in syrup but that's how it tasted to me. When you press your tongue on the cake in your mouth, you can feel the liquid from the cake, just slightly but the cake is not moist or soft or silky. I was disappointed. Hmm. I knew I had to try the Demel sachertorte or I wouldn't leave Vienna peacefully.
The apple strudel was very good, way better than the sachertorte.
The chairs have an 'S' in their backs. Most of the customers were tourists, eager to have their cake and photos taken.
Although the sachertorte at Cafe Sacher was not as tasty as I had expected, the staff was very friendly and the coffee was good. I did enjoy the hour we spent in the cafe that rainy afternoon. Right after Cafe Sacher, we walked to Demel, 15 minutes away.
Demel is both a bakery and a chocolatier. In terms of exposure to tourists, Demel was at a disadvantage because there's no place to sit except for a small bar. I'm not sure if there's a cafe further inside.
While Cafe Sacher declares everywhere--on the cakes, in the menus, in pamphlets--that their sachertorte is the original, Demel seems to have gone past that need to declare such a fact, probably because when you are the real thing you have the confidence and you don't have to shout it out.
I doggie-bagged a selection of Demel's cakes to Hub's cousin's and nobody there liked cakes so I had plenty to taste. In my honest opinion, Demel's sachertorte tasted better than Cafe Sacher's although both the cakes are quite similar. Maybe Demel's sachertorte tasted better because I was disappointed with Cafe Sacher's. Frankly, these sachertortes are over-rated. My suspicion is that 175 years ago when the cake was created, there weren't that many good cakes around. Ingredients too were probably not as easily available or of the quality we have today. Don't shoot me, but most other chocolate cakes taste better than THE original sachertortes I ate in Vienna.