In the great scheme of the cosmos, Appenzell is not a "foodie" destination. These days, when a six-bite, objet d'art entrée can cost $100 or more, style often counts for more than substance. Not here, however. Though there are no sacred altars of cuisine serving minuscule, perfectly-arranged portions, there's plenty of substance in the canton's traditional dishes, which are carefully prepared using the freshest ingredients. The farm tables of the past 100 years are the bedrock of most menus, though there is a slight trend toward lighter fare with more emphasis now on fish, a greater variety of vegetables, vegetarian dishes, and moderately-sized portions.
The wood-paneled dining rooms of the canton's hotels serve uniformly good to excellent food:
- In our experience, the best of lot is the Hotel Säntis, where such standbys as Kalbsleber with Rösti (calves liver and fried potatoes) are as good as you'll find in the country.
- The more chic Hof Weissbad gets a 15 of 20 Gault Millau rating and features a selection of lighter, low-calorie dishes. It grows some of its own produce and emphasizes private suppliers of meat and dairy products.
- Last December, selections on the menu at Hotel Appenzell included "Winterhit" (CHF 21), a variety of surprisingly satisfying winter vegetables, and "Winterpoulet" (CHF 22), half a roast chicken with multiple sautéed fresh vegetables; dishes not found in these parts just a few years ago.
- Dinner at the Gasthaus Alpenblick honors the best traditions of farm fare with rib-sticking choices such as Schweinsteak (CHF 27.5) and Kalbsteak with Steinpilz (CHF 39.5).
Expect to pay CHF 18–42 for main dishes, CHF 7–15 for salads and first courses, and about CHF 7-14 for desserts. A Stange (small beer) is typically CHF 4, and a half-liter of house wine will be around CHF 15-20.