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schwanen bizau (6)

Delicious food & drink are worth the ‘prize’

Delicious food & drink are worth the ‘prize’

Considering all the categories in which Bregenzerwald innkeepers shine, there are simply not enough awards to go around. We present ten can’t miss eateries that would earn prizes in several prize classes at once.

Awards and prizes have practical benefits in attracting attention, advertising the fruits of hard work, satisfying lobbyists, and making envious people even more jealous. In short, awards are a win-win situation. The Oscars are just the tip of the prize iceberg when it comes to Grammys, Bambis, Globes, Green Alleys, People’s Choices, Nobel Prizes and Michelin Stars. Yet Bregenzerwald’s gastronomy scene is also full of potential prizewinners, though a few categories have yet to be invented. With this sentiment in mind, we set out in search of hidden talents in as-yet-underappreciated prize classes.

1. The Schwanen Biohotel, Bizau

Product selection, hospitality, design and a feel-good kitchen – the Moosbrugger family score points for all of the above. And yet in this league, such factors belong to the very basics and do little to distinguish one from the competition. Such facts are not lost on Emanuel, who has mastered the change of the chef brilliantly (Michael Webendorfer instead of mother Antonia). Adding his ample foreign experience to the mix is also a boon. After all, it’s well established that attention to detail makes all the difference. If ever there was a prize for the most innovative beverage selection, this would be the clear winner. The drinks menu boasts sake, tea, domestic and international craft beers, natural wines and juices. The ambiance of this wooden room is the perfect place for a taste test. / www.biohotel-schwanen.com

2. Sonntagsgasthaus Adler Sunday Inn, Egg-Grossdorf

Due to their sometimes peculiar natures, Bregenzerwald residents are often gifted hosts. This is one of the most popular regions in Austria for good reason. Some examples in particular underscore just how open for interpretation the term ‘hospitality’ really is. Irma Renner, for instance, is the linchpin of the Adler Sunday Inn team. On Sundays, there’s no question that you can count on her if a job needs doing (management, organisation, service, kitchen, cleaning service, small talk, finances and even lifting spirits). On one, maximum two days a week, award-winning and hobby chefs take turns conjuring up grandiose menus. Irma Renner deserves a prize for the concept alone! /adler-grossdorf.at

3. Traube “Brennar” Inn, Egg

Where is it written that every menu has to feature self-conscious soups and salads, or pretentious meat dishes measured to the exact gram? Good middle-class dining is en vogue again. When it comes to serving homestyle food favourites, no one knows better than innkeepers in Bregenzerwald. Though the list of quality establishments is indeed long, we’ve awarded the prize for the best grilled meats to Thomas Metzler and Markus Hecher at the so called “Brennar.” This delicious classic featuring a variety of savoury meats is popular with both nostalgics and serious fans alike. The portion size alone should win an award: fill up on smoked ham, sausage, rump steak, turkey and pork loins. /www.traube-egg.at

4. Gasthaus Adler Inn, Krumbach

“Organic!” cries the first! “Sustainable!” chimes in the second. “Digestible!” shouts a voice from the back of the room. “Regionally-sourced!” says yet another. With all that goes into improving the quality of food in the hotel and catering industry, there are still a few surprises on the menu. It’s truly refreshing when establishments have the courage to innovate and demonstrate openness for the unconventional. One such approach: producing the majority of products and ingredients in house. Dexter beef, Duroc pork, merino lamb, goose, vegetables from the garden… Marlies and Jürgen Hirschbühl have succeeded in combining the best of many worlds: farm, inn and evening restaurant. On a scale of work-life-quality-organic balance, this place gets a 10 out of 10! /www.adler-krumbach.at

5. Café Deli, Hotel Bären, Mellau

The ‘Super Breakfast’ served at the Café Deli is aptly named. In fact, it probably deserves several prizes in its own right. But beyond the obvious, well-known facts, we’ll get straight to the point. Cheesecakes! And not the cheesecake you’ve got in mind. No, forget the usual (baked) cottage-cheese cakes. These are sinful delights for true connoisseurs. Not to mention the variety (fruits, ingredients, mixing ratio), consistency, & taste. You’ll be begging for more! The other freshly prepared desserts on offer are equally out of this world, but top marks go to the king of cheesecakes. /www.baerenmellau.at

6. Burglhütte hut, Hittisau

Fortunately for food lovers, culinary adventures can be found both on the plate and off the grid. Those who find their way to this remote hut (1,428 m) on snowshoes or as part of a ski tour will be rewarded with both outdoor scenery and fabulous food worth savouring. Though this beautiful hut has been carefully modernised, the rustic flair has been retained. Time flies as you enjoy the combination of off-the-beaten track location, panoramic views, cosy parlours and rustic guest rooms. Host Gerhard Friemel is the establishment’s heart and soul: Once an enthusiastic guest himself, he now looks after his intrepid customers with a healthy dose of good spirits and fine snacks. Don’t forget to bring your sledge in wintertime! /www.burglhuette.de

7. Gasthof Adler restaurant, Schwarzenberg

Creaking floorboards, warm oven-side benches, a weathered crucifix, and artistic wood panelling: these are the ingredients of a wonderfully preserved Bregenzerwald parlour. Of course there are several contenders for an award of this kind, but hands down the title for the most harmonious ensemble of parlours goes to the Adler in Schwarzenberg. Bursting at the seams with atmosphere, the food nearly takes a back seat to the ambience. Nearly. The uncomplicated quality of the menu is outstanding. With the help of their family, Florian and Felix Messner provide a welcome change of pace in the village. Asian favourites such as freshwater sushi, curry chicken, pork belly sweet and sour (!) will whet your appetite for a culinary journey to the Orient. /www.adler-schwarzenberg.at

8. Auenfelder Hut, Schröcken

The time has come to announce the winner of the kitschiest postcard motif! Weather, season, company, occasion – all factors take a back seat to the Auenfelder Hütte mountain hut’s (1,762 m) spectacular location. Situated below the peak of the Saloberkopf and surrounded by the Lechquellengebirge range, Martin Jochum’s cosy hut is a little gem. Best of all, since it is also easy to reach, winter sports enthusiasts often gather here for refreshments. Not to worry, amid all the hustle and bustle, there is still plenty of time for quality cooking (dumpling varieties!) /www.auenfelder.at

9. Gasthaus Alpenblick Inn, Sulzberg

And the award for the very best homemade dish/excursion destination/clarified butter goes to (drum roll please)…. the Giselbrecht family for all of the above! Guests who forgo the menu and only order a drink are missing out. Because while the view is great, the breads, strudels and cakes on offer are worth the trip alone. Käsknöpfle cheese spaetzle, Schlutzkrapfen half-moon raviolis and pastry favourites are classics of the comfort-food genre, served just like you like them. /www.alpenblick.co.at

10. Hotel Damülser Hof, Damüls

A new day has dawned in the kitchen of the Klauser family’s wellness oasis and we have junior chef Christoph to thank for the winds of change. Roasted fillet tranches, crisp freshwater fish, and crunchy vegetables are just a few examples of how cooking temperature can vary the consistency of dishes served. Best of all, food is sourced from local producers – a fact which is anything but self-evident for a hotel of this location and size. Luckily, even non-hotel guests are invited to enjoy the evening menu as well. Worth an ‘honourable mention’: Almost all family members are somehow involved in the business. We award a 10 out of 10 for family solidarity. /www.damuelserhof.at

Author: Markus Curin
Issue: Winter 2019-20 Travel Magazine

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