Forget Aperol Spritz, order a Hugo. The first time I was introduced to Hugo was in the garden of restaurant SchĂ¶neck, with amazing views over Innsbruck. The transparent, slightly bubbly cocktail is based on Prosecco with a touch of white elderflower syrup, some sparkling water and some fresh mint leaves. Hugo and I agreed well that night in the romantically lit garden SchĂ¶neck, he accompanied me to the dinner table until he willingly traded place for a glass of refreshing GrĂĽner Veltliner. Austria has no shortage of surprising flavours and creations in the glass, believe me. SchĂ¶neck is a restaurant not to be missed to Innsbruck. It is well established, an institution. Since 1899, this is a place where people come together to have dinner (and lunch) in an elegant and romantic setting. The annex, complete in an old, wooden frame with small windows opening up in summer and covered with grapevines, is the most beautiful place to sit. Or go for the balcony, also built in dark wood with a fine view of the city. Chef and owner Alfred Miller offers a choice of two menus, but you can also order separate dishes for those with a smaller appetite. Traditional, refined dishes are served, just too bad that too many chefs in Austria, like Miller, still go for tuna and other exotic fish on their menu. A shame we can’t write that SchĂ¶neck has a focus on pure, local ingredients, which would match perfectly with this unique dĂ©cor and the history of the cosy inn.
Other typical, culinary moments we had in Der Wildermann in Lans, about 15 minutes from the city. Lots of locals like to come here in the weekend, feasting on generous portions of roast duck and goose, marinated cow tongue, pasta with local morels, KĂ¤serahmspĂ¤tzle and Tyrolean BauemgrĂ¶sti with fried egg. Inside the Stube it’s cosy and warm, just do not forget to book since tables fill up quickly on weekends and evenings.
Another very localized and little secret is HĂ¶ll Bistro in Pfaffenhofen. The owner, Helmuth Valentin, is the former chef of the popular restaurant from Kristalwelten of Swarovski Kristal. View over the Tyrolean valley from the beautiful terrace and on the menu a a very strong focus on (aged) meat that you can pick out yourself from the glass vitrine. Eat it together with a bottle of firm BlaufrĂ¤nkisch wine and you’re in Tyrolean heaven. Bistro HĂ¶ll is again a place where perfect ingredients go well with the Tyrolean mountain landscape, a real treat. (except for those damn tuna steaks and Asian prawns on the menu, that is).