Why is it that food always seems to taste better in Europe? Ever had that experience? I seem to have it every time I venture to Europe and fall upon casual hole in the walls that serve fresh delicious food at the oddest of times and in the oddest of places. I was in Austria in October, and treated my palette in both Salzburg and Vienna – be sure to see my write-up on Vienna Restaurants and foodie delights. Salzburg, while not a global name in food, has some delicious options both inside the city center and on the outskirts, a region they refer to as SalzburgerLand, which couldn’t be more fitting.
I’ll start my recommendations with a Michelin star stand-out, a 20-30 minute drive outside Salzburg, an easy jaunt if you have a car, and well worth doing as its open for both lunch and dinner and is on The Sound of Music trail. In the little town of Werfen, brothers Karl and Rudolf Obauer offer delicious treats inside their elegant restaurant, which is also joined to a hotel on the main drag on Markt 46.
We started our decadent luncheon with Quail Egg with Balsamic Apple Jelly, Lamb Terrine, chicken with sesame and a Venison with cabbage terrine sampler. We paired this with the Weingut Hopler 2014 Pinot Blanc, which was perfectly balanced. The 2012 Pinot Noir from Weingur Hopler was also available which went perfectly with the Deer-Ragout. We finished with biscuit and sweet samplers as well as a Cold Blueberry Compote. I’ll let the photos do the bragging…
The restaurant also has the only MASTER Sommelier in Austria apparently, which we took full advantage of during our meal.
Stiegl’s Brauwelt for Pub Fare
A private Austrian brewery which has been around for more than 120 years is Stiegl’s Brauwelt in the heart of Salzburg. It was originally owned by the Kiener family and since 1990 Dr Heinrich Dieter Kiener (III.) has been in charge. Let’s face it, while there are some great Austrian wines, it’s more of a beer culture than it is a wine one. At Stiegl, they call their flagship product ‘Stiegl-Goldbräu’ a ‘Salzburg beer’.
The ’Salzburg beer’ is a class of its own, setting itself apart from Märzen beers, not least because of its golden colour. After an initial soft taste, the ‘Stiegl-Goldbräu’ develops its full taste on the tongue and is particularly palatable. The robust taste and the bitter-sweet notes are well-balanced and create a harmonious flavour. Their master brewer Pöpperl brews in the old fashioned traditional way and it shows up in the quality of the beer. Stiegl’s top priority is the use of local raw materials and a respectful use of natural resources.
It was fitting that we started with massive sized soft homemade pretzels with our beer upon arrival. They also served classic appetizers on a tray during a pre-dinner gathering we had in the lobby area, as the pub was closed down for our private party of 75 or so people, 50 of which were journalists in from around the world.
Cheese platter and other appetizers below. While we had fish, meat and soup here, the biggest reason to come here is for the authentic Austrian pub ambiance and the fabulous beer, of which Stiegl offers Stiegl Pale Ale, Stiegl-Schwarzbier, Original Stieglbock, Ruprecht Glühbier and Stiegl-Herbst-Gold.
Dinner…I went for the fish, which I did NOT pair with one of their deliciously brewed beers, but with a white Austrian wine.
Pastries, Sweets & Market Delights
It goes without saying that Austria boasts a wide range of delicious chocolate and sweet offerings, from homemade Artisan chocolate to pastries. Below is a sample of some of the discoveries I made on my journey through Salzburg’s streets and their extensive market, which is open daily.
Chocolate, Cheese and Meats in the Market
The fruit and vegetables at the market are so incredibly fresh, despite the fact that it was not the peak of summer.
Candy and Chocolate Shops
Common Pastries and Sweets for Dessert after a meal, including the famous Strudel of course
Stiftskeller St. Peter – a Mozart Dinner Concert
At Stiftskeller St. Peter, an old abbey in Salzburg, you can experience Mozart throughout a 3 course dinner, with wine and champagne. This candlelit dinner is prepared according to traditional recipes from Mozart’s era.
The most popular compositions of W. A. Mozart are performed in candlelight by local musicians in historical costumes including two opera singers and musicians performing “A little night melody” as well as with arias and duets from operas “Don Giovanni”, “Le Nozze di Figaro” and “The Magic Flute”.
I found the ever so polite staff folding napkins on my way out and so I couldn’t resist a shot.
The traditional dining rooms where you can dine at other times.
Dinner was quite traditional. On the menu that evening was clear beef soup with semolina dumplings or with sliced pancakes to start, Panfried char-filet of fish from the local lake with pearl-barley and potato veggies and spinach topped with froth of Stiegl-Grapefruitradler, or a fried chicken breast (corn-fed of course) on cream-cheese mash, artichokes and beans. The evening finished with a Brauwelt special chocolate dessert with raspberry ice cream.
Below is a snippet of video I shot of the opera performances at the dinner. BRAVO!!
The Kulisse Salzburg Festival Halls
We had a unique evening at a private affair at the historical Kulisse Salzburg where, after a cocktail reception and a Sound of Music evening to celebrate the musical’s 50 year anniversary (be sure to read our coverage of the 50th festivities and tours we took), we had a buffet dinner with live music in a private room sectioned off for the actors, the musicians, press and VIPs.
Culinary delights were souped up (and dished out) of personal chef Johanna Raudaschl of the Von Trapp family. How appropriate is that? After the traditional buffet of pastas and meats and traditional Austrian appetizers, the desserts came out, including of course, the Strudel. Take a look at some of these scrumptious pastries and breads – these alone should make you want to hop on the plane and visit Austria, at least for those with a serious sweet tooth.
K+K Restaurant is in the heart of old Salzburg, where most of the cultural and historical sites can be found. We grabbed a leisurely lunch at this traditional restaurant just off the main square, apparently long known for its delicious cuisine and beautifully adorned individual dining rooms with classic old lamps, drapes and carpets.
It is located in a protected historic townhouse building that dates back to the Middle Ages and sits on the heals of the Salzburg Cathedral and Mozart Square in am Waagplatz. Eight sophisticated, small parlours spread over four storeys compose a unique architectural ensemble and give the restaurant building its distinct character.
In the attractive vaulted ceilinged S’Gwölb Restaurant on the ground floor, a diverse variety of delicious international and local Austrian cuisine is served. The 2nd and 3rd floors of our Salzburg restaurant feature beautiful, traditional, wood-panelled Salzburg parlours, where you can enjoy refined creations of international and Austrian fish and meat specialities. They have an extensive wine selection as well although some in our group were keen to try the Apple-elder juice at lunch.
The menu is very traditionally Austrian in that old world kinda way. For example, they had Smoked Goose breast with apple-celery salad and rose-hip cream, Sheep’s cheese terrine on lamb’s lettuce salad with pumpkin pesto (YUM and so perfect for October), Beef or Venison Carpaccio, cream of Venison Soup (below), Goulash of Deer (also below), Fillet of hare on savory cream with croquettes and pumpkin cabbage, Deer steak and the Saddle of Venison on balsamic lentils with potato gnocchi and spinach souffle. Have a look…..
Like Werfen, the village of Faistenau is around a 30-40 minute drive outside Salzburg, but an easy drive if you have a car and if you want to taste all of what Salzburgerland has to offer, it’s important to step outside the city center. Here at this traditional organic farm — Oberhinteregghoff, you’re suddenly faced with a lovely classic setting in rural Faistenau, which boasts stunning views, views of the wet and green countryside and farm life.
Here, you get an opportunity to bake homemade bread with the husband-wife team and eat a traditional lunch with them afterwards. There’s time to take in the farm itself, learn about the history and what they produce, from homemade jams, jellies, honeys, spices and herbal remedies. Below is the plate of bread that a dozen or so of us made over the course of the afternoon.
We had fried schnitzel for lunch with potatoes and beans, as well as fresh salad and Austrian wine. They also had lovely organic hot tea which they served in old fashioned tea cups, all of which added to this yesteryear experience in rural Salzburgerland.
The treasured farm table set up for our group — it felt like we were experiencing Thanksgiving early but without the turkey and ham.
They also had a number of their homemade items for sale in their shop, which was part of the farmhouse kitchen – jams, teas, olive oil, spirits, herbs, honey and more.
I absolutely loved the old kitchen — behind the counter and the dining room itself. Ahhh yes, homemade bread and Austrian cheese from local cows in the countryside.
Hellbrunn Restaurant @ Hellbrunn Palace
This historical and quirky palace is known for its fountains and the “tricks” the fountains plays on you when you least expect it. They also rent the place out for special occasions like weddings and corporate events. They even have an in-house Rolls Royce which brings you to the restaurant Hellbrunn to experience an unforgettable romantic evening in a charming setting. I wrote a separate piece on the Palace and the Fountains since it warranted it (there’s so much history and culture to take in here), so be sure to read my Hellbrunn Fountains post.
As for the restaurant and the culinary treats? There are a few restaurants to choose from, however their focus is on larger events and hosted parties, as it’s a lovely place to host an event. Private diners can equally enjoy in its luxurious decadence and history. For a taste of what to expect on your plate, have a look below — bear in mind that we had a set menu rather than ordering off a standard menu.