You know I always tell it to you straight, so I’m going to admit something here before getting into the meat of this review … When Café Vienna closed on April 15, 2012, several hundred of us down here in SoLag lost our minds. Where were we going to have coffee now? How were we going to survive without Ferdinand’s Wiener Schnitzel and Apple Strudel? How could we plan our garage sale treks and community garden festival days without seeing our daily friends at Café Vienna? For weeks … actually (admittedly) months … we wandered our SoLag streets aimlessly, trying to put our lives back together again. As it turns out, owners Ferdinand Lettner and Eva McGann were feeling a bit aimless themselves. Ferdinand threw himself into improving and adding menu items at the Sands Café, the beach café at Aliso Creek County Beach. He also launched a new company, Green Apple Lunchbox, which focuses on healthy lunches in community schools. Eva tried her hand at a couple other coffee shops while fruitlessly scouring the SoLag commercial district for another place to hang the Vienna hat. As it turns out, even though they had owned and managed several restaurants between here and Austria, they felt a real pang with the loss of Vienna. “We had owned two Heidelbergs and, then, Café Vienna from 1990 forward. There really was never a break from it,” says Ferdinand. “So, at first I thought it was great to step away and not be tied to all that cooking,” he continues. “But about three weeks later, I was wondering what I was going to do with myself in the evenings.” And Then The Solution Finally Hit … Since opening Sands, Ferdinand would mull options for using the kitchen in the evening hours. It wasn’t until about a month ago, though, that Eva came up with the idea of beginning a Café Vienna 2 Go model, hubbed from Sands Café. “I don’t know why we didn’t think of it earlier,” says Eva. “We have this great commercial kitchen that’s only used until 4:00 p.m., and we already have the brand recognition and know what the favorite menu items are … so why not create a Café Vienna concept that delivers your favorite meals right to your door? Officially open for about two weeks now, Café Vienna 2 Go is already rolling at substantial speed. Our Favorite Food is Back! All of It! Operating from Tuesday through Saturday, 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., diners can check out the menu at www.CafeVienna2Go.com or just call (949) 715-7745 and ask if their previous favorite menu items are still available. Chances are, yes. A resounding yes. For the time being, Café Vienna 2 Go allows pickup and delivers as far north as Broadway. “We want to get our wheels underneath us first,” says Eva. “But I think we’ll be expanding to North Laguna pretty quickly.” First on the Entrées list is Ferdinand’s famous Wiener Schnitzel, the meal served in Austria, Hungary and several other smart Euro countries whenever these folks want to welcome guests, comfort their children or scrupulously plot ways to win a lover’s heart. This is not a complicated dish, they assure me. “High quality, hot oil and a great cut of tenderized veal … that’s it,” says Eva. Per Austrian tradition, Ferdinand serves it with lemon slices and lingonberries, though they tell me that other European countries will serve it with a poached egg and gravy sauce. Café Vienna 2 Go entrées span from Angel Hair Pasta to Spinach-and-Cheese Ravioli and Rack of Lamb (already one of the top sellers). Or, create your own burger or veggie burger, try Ferdinand’s renowned Wild Salmon stuffed with sautéed spinach and feta cheese, or order the new Ginger Glazed Mahi Mahi. Yes. Before you start hyperventilating, yes … Ferdinand’s famous Beef Stroganoff is here on the menu, too. One taste and I’m back in Café Vienna – there’s just nothing like Ferdinand’s recipe. “We get great Filet Mignon, and then it’s just a mix of heavy cream, onions, Worcestershire sauce, Dijon mustard a few spices and … finely chopped pickles,” Ferdinand says. “People can never figure out the pickle part.” Vegetarian and Gluten Free While two of the dinner-sized salads contain optional shrimp or chicken, Café Vienna 2 Go offers three popular salads and a number of vegetarian and gluten free options throughout. Ferdinand dishes out Mushroom Spaetzle, his vegetarian twist on a classic. The Spaetzle is a small potato dumpling (much like gnocchi) with grilled mushrooms in a light cream garlic sauce. It’s melt-in-your-mouth goodness. The Spaetzle is served up in the appetizer menu, but is easily built for two. Other appetizers include Mozzarella Bliss, a petite Filet Mignon, Panko Mahi Mahi, Salmon Potato Cakes and, my last try of the day, a great Shrimp Bowl that features grilled Tiger Shrimp in a garlic infused warm balsamic sauce, served with a crunchy warm baguette for dipping. As people wander down from their SoLag homes to pick up their to go items, Eva talks about future plans such as theme nights (Goulash Night, Schnitzel Night) at al fresco tables by the bonfire. “We have a lot of ideas, but right now we’re just focused on dialing in the delivery system and making this as easy as possible for our diners.” Eva, just bringing Café Vienna back is all the ease we need. Café Vienna 2 Go is open Tuesday – Saturday, 5:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. for pick up and delivery. It’s headquartered at the Sands Café, 31131 Coast Highway, Laguna Beach, 92651. Go to www.CafeVienna2Go.com for menu, and call (949) 715-7745 to order.