A winter feast in Salzburg
|Marcus Witek Watercolor|
Here in January in the U.S., the holidays are behind us. But in Salzburg, as we recently discovered, there is one more to go; the Feast of the Epiphany, a day off for all Austrians and one to dress up for a big lunch at a gemütlich restaurant.
Based on a tip from a local, we headed for Gasthof Auerhahn and the rustic dining room that is a favorite of many Salzburgers. The cozy warmth of its rough-hewn wood walls and its carved beams overhead was perfect on a chilly day. So was the food.
Thinly-sliced smoked goose breast with a light vinegar dressing was not only delicious but comes with the added advantage of justifying one's European trip, to wit: this is stuff we don't get at home.
Main courses of baked salmon in a lemony cream sauce and pan-fried perch (Zanderfilet) from an Austrian river left no doubt as to how every seat at the Auerhahn came to be occupied that Tuesday afternoon. The salmon came with rice and a clutch of perfectly prepared winter vegetables, while alongside the perch were generous servings of buttery spinach, crisp green asparagus and small boiled potatoes sprinkled with fresh parsley. There was no room for dessert, instead we sipped the last of the straw-colored wine from the province of Burgenland, south of Vienna.
Such was the level of our contentment that we purchased one of the dozen or so original watercolors on display throughout the restaurant by a local artist.
Lunch or dinner for two will be about $70 without wine. Marcus Witek's paintings are from $250 and $400.
Rating: Quality 15/20, Value 14/20
By Mark Honan
Favorably reviewed in the February 1999 issue of Gemütlichkeit, the Auerhahn has lost none of its ability to seduce the palate. What's new, though, is the 2003 extension to the original wood-beamed room. It's a more modern space, with generous gaps between tables, a fireplace, soft candlelight, and almost garish head portraits in the Warhol-on-Marilyn mould. Traditional Austrian main courses start at €11.50. The Schaumsuppe featured rich slices of tender duck breast (€5.20). Fish is highly rated here, so I tried the Bunter Fischteller €21), a selection of choice seafood served with a leek risotto. I particularly enjoyed the mussels with a subtle cheesy sauce served in a scallop shell, and the oriental tang in the accompanying sliced vegetables. A dessert speciality is Topfenknödel (€3), a light, warmed dumpling made from curd cheese, which was nicely offset by the cool, slightly sharp cranberry puree.
Contact: Bahnhofstrasse 15, 5020, tel. +43/662/4510523. Kitchen open 11:30am-2pm & 6pm-10pm Tues.-Sun. afternoon; closed Sunday evening and Mon.
Rating: Quality 14/20, Value 13/20