"The coolest place to eat in 2016 worldwide" – This is how the US business magazine Forbes describes the unique concept of the restaurant belonging to the exclusive hotel collection Relais& The Taubenkobel restaurant, which belongs to Chateaux, to the point. The coolest restaurant in the world in a small town called Schutzen am Gebirge – can it really be?? But yes, says our author Christian Euler..
International art on the walls, the porcelain was pottered in the village: Taubenkobel.
When Walter Eselbock opened the Taubenkobel in 1984, initially as a "Taubenschlag", he stood behind the stove without any training as a cook. In the beginning, the small restaurant at Hauptstrabe 33 was an excursion pub that placed special emphasis on art and culture. So it quickly became a meeting place for painters, actors and literary figures far beyond nearby Vienna. The unpretentious cuisine was too simple for some. So what had to come..
"I like the Taubenkobel, but you have a problem: You can't cook," a respected regular said one day quite bluntly – and sent the Eselbocks to Eckart Witzigmann's Aubergine in Munich. The visit to the future chef of the century became an awakening experience for Eveline and Walter – and it was quickly clear: "We'll do that too!"
Artists and literary figures are only too happy to stop off at the Pigeon's Nest.
Taubenkobel: A self-taught restaurant with two stars
From then on, the Eselbocks invested in star menus. They were not afraid to copy menus in the toilet and crawl under the tables to find out where the noble linen came from. The effort was worth it: As a self-taught chef, Walter Eselbock cooked his way to two stars, 19 points in the Gault Millau and four toques at the time of the Austrian edition of the Guide Michelin.
Sea fish are taboo in the Taubenkobel. Only what the Neusiedler See offers, where they have their own fisherman, ends up on the plate.
How the Taubenkobel changed
In 2014, daughter Barbara and son-in-law Alain Weissgerber took over the restaurant – and moved away from French haute cuisine to Pannonian cuisine. The Alsatian-born chef with an Austrian accent consistently focuses on the region and orients himself exclusively to the season. So sea fish are taboo. Only what is available from Lake Neusiedl, where they have their own fisherman, ends up on the plate. The most important producers include Demeter farms and local vegetable farmers, Weissgerber knows them all personally.
The culinary concept
"The simple always trumps the complicated when in doubt" and "I like the creativity of making something out of nothing" are his culinary credos. For example, he combines a pike perch from Lake Neusiedl steamed on rock salt with pickled herb buds. The pigeon, in turn, is first filled with hay and – vacuumed in burnt hay – stored for a week. Before it is placed on the porcelain, which was specially potted in the village, it rests for 40 minutes in a 68-degree spice oil before being given its final polish in the wood-burning oven. Burnt donkey in the form of cream, broth and spinach and medlar jelly make the dish an aromatic noblesse.
Alain Weissgerber& Barbara Eselbock-Weissgerber have been in charge at Taubenkobel since 2014.
© Ingo Pertramer, Taubenkobel
Is the Taubenkobel really the coolest restaurant in the world?
The Gault Millau immediately awarded 18 points to the newcomer's counter-design to classic haute cuisine. It's a pity that the Michelin Guide now only awards its stars in Salzburg and Vienna. Barbara Eselbock as hotel manager and kitchen matador Alain Weissgerber live their passion as authentically as their cuisine. Accompanied by highly individual organic wines and presented by a charming, authentically friendly team, the Forbes dictum manifests itself more and more with every bite: here, unconventionality and creativity, combined with perfection in craftsmanship, develop an ambience that is probably not to be found anywhere else. And so Forbes magazine is quite right. Dovecot is truly the coolest restaurant in the world.