When I was told about St. Peter Stiftskeller in Salzburg, the oldest restaurant in Europe, I was expecting some Ye Olde Worlde place. Instead, I was greeted with an entrance of stone arches and tall planters leading to a courtyard which was strikingly modern with traditional touches. The restaurant envelopes a courtyard on three sides and the fourth side is the rock face of a mountain.
The courtyard tables are delightful with cushions on benches and sunlight screened by the shade of the mountain to the side. The feel is sophisticated without being pretentious in a calm colour scheme of slate grey, weathered stone and vivid green.
The interior of the restaurant has an inky atmosphere, with heavy dark wood furniture and low ceilings. You felt you were in a place that had seen lots of travellers and stories passing through it.
As it was a beautiful sunny day, we sat in the shaded courtyard. Unlike our previous trip when they were taste-testing sacher tortes, this time the kids are trying out apple strudels around Austria. My daughter pronounced the apple strudel delicious and among the best she’s tried!
I opted for a simple capuccino with every intention of stealing bites of their apple strudels with custard. Then I saw the waiter carrying an intriguing looking dish topped with three meringue peaks. I was told the three peaks represented the three mountains of Salzburg. Named Salzburger Nockerl, it is a dessert you can only find in Salzburg. Of course I had to try it.
The tartness of the berries blends with the fluffy sugariness of the meringue to create a delicious explosion of taste. As my daughter said, it feels like you are eating a berry-tasting cloud. Although a great dish, we preferred the apple strudel which was somewhat less diabetic-coma inducing.
Established in 803 AD, St. Peter’s used to claim to be the oldest restaurant in the world. In recent years, however, a Chinese restaurant has disputed this claim by alleging to be 9 years older. The Austrians are contesting this assertion because in true Germanic manner they have full documentation of their 1200 years of restaurant existence. The Chinese, on the other hand, have a couple of hundred years of documentation missing where they can’t prove they were in existence, never mind operating as a restaurant.
The restaurant, St. Peter’s Stiftskiller, is located outside the cemetery for St. Peter’s Church and next door to the church in the old town of Salzburg. We had every intention of visiting the church but ran out of time. The cemetery is cool though and has catacombs you can visit.
St. Peter’s Stiftskiller is open for lunch and dinner every day. It is located at St. Peter Bzirk 1/4, 5020 Salzburg. I thought the prices were reasonable and on par with other restaurants. There isn’t a premium for the ‘oldest’ restaurant tag. You can make reservations online.