In the U.S., the holidays are behind us on January 2nd. In Salzburg, however, as we recently discovered, there is one more to go, the Feast of the Epiphany. This year is was on January 5th, a holiday for all Austrians and a day to dress up and have a big lunch at a gemütlich restaurant.
Based on a tip, 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.
Very thinly sliced smoked goose breast served with a light vinegar dressing was not only delicious but had the added advantage of justifying one's European trip. To wit: this is stuff we can'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, fresh green asparagus and small boiled potatoes.
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 by a local artist and on display at the Auerhahn.
Lunch or dinner for two will be about $60 without wine. One of Marcus Witek's paintings will cost between $250 and $400.
Contact: Gasthof Auerhahn, A-5020 Salzburg, Bahnhofstrasse 15, tel. +41/0662/451052, fax 0662/451052-3.
Rating: Quality 15/20, Value 14/20
More Pubs & Grub
At Hotel-Restaurant Gablerbräu (Linzergasse 9, tel. 88965), on the right bank, not far from the Hotel Trumer Stube, the light Kaiser beer vom Fass goes down easily but the food is several notches below the Auerhahn. Mixed salads of shredded carrots, white radish, cucumber, and lettuce had a watery dressing. Rumpsteak in a peppery sauce was a little tough but tasty and came with good Pommes Frites and green beans with bits of smoked ham.
Chunks of venison filet in an almost black reduction sauce, and the pasty Semmelknödel that accompanied it, were less to our taste.
The beer is good, the prices modest (dinner for two without beverages, $45), and you'll get enough to eat. Expect to pay about $50 for two without beverages. No Gault Millau toques here, however.
Alter Fuchs (Linzergasse 47/49, tel. 882200) is a new, right bank, below-street-level, gathering spot for the under-40 crowd. For us it was an after-dinner stop for a drink and/or dessert. The suspicious sounding but luscious Liwanzen mit Powidl und Rumzwetschke ($6) is a couple of puffy pancakes, with a smooth prune-based sauce, three or four stewed prunes, a shot of liquor-possibly rum-all topped with whipped cream and sprinkled with chopped pistachios. We split it.
This is a very lively spot-jam-packed two nights running-but friendly and under control. Highly recommended.
Near the Hotel Auersperg, Wegsheidstuben (Lasserstr. 1, tel. 874618) is one of those homey, corner beer joint/restaurants in a mostly residential part of town. It looked promising, but the food was a disappointment. Zwiebelrostbraten had the salt shaker emptied into it and accompanying vegetables were canned. Enough said. To be avoided.
Not far from the Hotel Jedermann, Die Weisse (Rupertgasse 10, tel. 72246) is a rambling old brewpub specializing in wheat beer. It is an acquired taste.