We stayed at the Knappenhof for two nights and for one of these we decided to have the tasting menu from Max Stiegl. He was cook of the year in 2020 and took over the management of the kitchen next to his own successful restaurant. Max Stiegl burns bright at the moment, but it’s also well deserved. Having dinner at the hotel itself also made sense, since the nearest village is a couple of minutes away. And we all wanted to enjoy a drink or two with our set four-course meal. Be forewarned, this is nothing for vegetarians!
The restaurant inside is a mix of modern and bucolic. Lots of antlers and animal heads grace the walls. The whole design is eclectic and even a city girl like me feels at home here. Despite the wonderful interior though we stayed on the terrace. The weather was still fine enough to spend an evening outside.
We started with an amuse gueule, a shared plate of roast beef with scarlet runner beans. Just a mouth-full but very tasty and a sure sign for what was to come.
When bread and butter came to the table I was displeased. Whipped butter again, this is so ten years ago and also not tasty. I really don’t get it why this is still popular.
The four-course menu always offers two choices. I shared all dishes, so the critique here comes from my own impressions. The starter was a choice of eel or foie gras. The eel came in form of a mouse with apple horseradish sauce, pickled turnips, and slices of eel. The mousse was light and airy, overall a lot better than you would expect eel to taste. Quite a lovely surprise.
The foie gras was cut in a perfect medallion on top of a brioche of the same size and surrounded by apricot sauce. The brioche was maybe a tad too toasted, it was rather cross, but the apricots and the foie gras harmonized perfectly.
The warm starter was either a roux soup with capon or a chamois ragout with couscous. The soup was not too thickened by the roux, a great amount of capon pieces floated lay at the bottom, with a small bread dumpling in the middle. Personally I love roux soup, and when well done it is the perfect comfort food. Here it was well done, as was the dumpling. I can’t really say anything of the capon, could have been chicken for all I know.
The chamois ragout had a definite game taste. Also the meat was a bit chewier than what I am used to normally. Which seems logic when you think about it. For a warm starter it was also a big portion with at least 5 pieces of meat. Something that’s more like a main dish in my opinion. The ragout, with chanterelles, came with a small bowl of couscous with paprika on the side. Quite an intense taste overall, but very interesting.
The main course was a choice of fish or beef. The roasted sea bass lay on a bed of pearl barley risotto, refined with bacon, and Pernod. The skin of the bass was cross, in nice contrast to the creamy risotto which was perfectly seasoned. Very tasty dish!
The steak from a mature cow had the perfect pink color and got a potato celery gratin on top, with a couple of chanterelles on the side. I liked it a lot. The whole composition was lovely. Rich beefy flavors coming from the sauce and the meat, buttery taste from the gratin, and some earthiness from the chanterelles.
My dinner companions hated it. It was the unusual texture of the mature cow, the meat needed a lot of chewing, which was apparently not liked. I guess nobody really knew what to expect. But as the name implies this cow had been around a lot, normally it’s old milk cows. So prepare yourself for some beef with a bite and you will love it too.
The desserts were good, but always with great restaurants the dessert comes as an afterthought. Or so it seems to me. The apricot dumpling was perfect. Everything else on the plate, the roasted apricots as well as the vanilla ice cream, were too much. Also the ice cream waited for a bit before it appeared in front of me. The dumpling though was exactly right!
The individual pistachio cake on the other hand I found dry. Despite a pistachio cream on top as well a yogurt ice cream on the side, I didn’t enjoy it. But in the end my opinion didn’t count because it was the only dish I didn’t share. I ate the dumpling all on my own and only got a bite to taste the cake.
Overall this was a fantastic dinner! I loved the creative dishes and the use of interesting produce. I don’t think I ever had eel and neither chamois. So getting that cooked by a great chef was definitely a treat. An amazing experience. Yours, Pollybert
2651 Reichenau/Rax, Kleinau 34
Tel: +43 2666 53 633
Thu-Sat: 12:00-22:00, Sun: from 12:00 on