Yesterday, restaurants in Austria reopened to indoor dining. For the past 6 months, a common dinner conversation has been, “where will you go when restaurants reopen? What will you order?”
The Umbrüggler Alm has been on top of my list. The modern hut nestled in the woods overlooking Innsbruck serves some of the best dishes in town, many with herbs and veggies from their garden. Sonja and Thomas manage the hut together: Sonja runs the kitchen, while her partner Thomas keeps diners happy with cold drinks and conversation
It’s a 30 minute hike to get there and you definitely want to have a reservation...especially if they’ve been closed for 6 months. Walking in the door after a rainy hike felt almost like coming home. The fire was going strong and we were met with hugs. So much for social distancing. Austria requires a negative Covid test or vaccine card to eat in restaurants, so I suppose everyone was healthy. They checked my proof of negative test as if I were getting carded at a bar--required by law to eat out in Austria. The clouds and rain disappeared about as fast as my first beer. Thomas and I caught up about the adventures we’d had over the past winter. For him, it was the first winter he hadn’t had to run a restaurant and he shared stories of new ski routes he’d explored in the Dolomites and Tyrol.
Finally, after 6 months of home-cooked meals and take-out, it was time for me to decide what I would order at a restaurant. Their lasagna is one of my favorites, considering Sonja runs an Italian kitchen. The smell of the smoker outside had me thinking about pulled pork, too. Instead, I realized I was craving a classic Austrian dish. Something I usually wouldn’t order. But fried food is a pain to make at home and lacks the crisp when you order it as take out. That tender pork seared in salty breading and doused with lemon juice pairs perfectly with the bittersweet cranberry sauce, finished off with a cold beer.
“For me, I’ll have the Schnitzel. Bitte.”
Here’s to dining out again. Prost!