Turnhalle Café | Hidden Cornucopia

In a crowded brunch landscape, Turnhalle im brick5 offers exceptional organic fare in a relaxed environment.

When the doors to Turnhalle im brick5 open on weekends, a brunch of earthly delights awaits – but you’ll have to find it first. Walk beyond the cutely arranged seating in the courtyard of the larger brick5, a culture center in a converted factory, and follow the sounds of easy-listening music. Once you’ve reached the former gymnasium-turned-art space and restaurant, your reward can be found along one wall against a backdrop of arched windows framing leafy trees: a vegetarian buffet, fresh and varied enough to please any palate.

Made in collaboration with the team behind Café 7Stern, this all-day (10:00-16:00) weekend brunch features dishes made with ingredients harvested from its own
organic garden, Hofkollektiv Waldviertler Eden. Charging €18 per head including coffee by Hausbrandt, Turnhalle’s spread also includes cakes from Go Sweet Bakery, fresh organic bread from Gragger & Cie and dishes savory and sweet from its own kitchen.

© Phillip Lichtenegger

Drawing a 20-something crowd and young families, you can sit either inside or out, at a communal table in the center hall or more intimate seating for two or four people. The high ceilings, large windows, and alternating white or distressed walls make the Turnhalle feel welcoming and spacious but not cavernous, the décor set off by exposed light fixtures and a large copper pipe that pumps beer across the room from the barrel to the tap. In the background, the playlist roams the 1970s between Joni Mitchell-lite pop-folk and Diana Ross-esque R&B and soul.

Nature’s Bounty

On the morning I sat down to brunch at Turnhalle im brick 5, they offered bread and sweets, fresh fruit and salads, roasted beets and potatoes, shakshuka, baked pasta, eggs suspended in a sweet potato shell, and sides including guacamole and pico de gallo. In the absence of sausages, bacon or ham – the stuff that gives breakfast its savory roundness – flavors tended toward the sweet, relying on ingredients like tomato and sweet potato as well as yogurt and other dairy products. But perhaps it was the absence of those heavier, hearty menu items that really allowed the fullness and freshness of its organic produce to shine through.

Turnhalle’s shakshuka, for example, while lacking the depth that comes from slow cooking the sauce with a good amount of harissa, highlighted the quality of its tomatoes, peppers, and onions, as well as the eggs themselves, all firm whites and delightfully runny yolks. Counterbalanced with fresh berries and a touch of cinnamon, its Birchermüsli was rich and thick as if it had been saturated in Rahmjoghurt (cream yoghurt), while the dessert menu – especially the apple and raspberry crisp and coconut and raspberry slice – placed the fruits front and center instead of masking or overwhelming them with fat and sugar. Also offering breakfast during the week from a select menu, Turnhalle im brick 5 is a hidden culinary gem and, even in an already-competitive brunch and breakfast market, a perfect spot to idly spend a couple of hours on a lazy Viennese weekend.

Liam Hoare
A freelance writer on politics and literature based in Vienna. He is the Europe editor for Moment and a frequent contributor to Slate, The Forward and Tablet.

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