Restaurants that have tickled our fancy
and sometimes our wallet!

The Griechenbeisl (The Greek Inn) is one of Vienna’s oldest inns (1447). rtists, scholars and politicians would congregate in the Griechenbeisl to eat, drink, debate and reflect – often into the early hours. From the world famous balladeer ‘Der lieber Augustin’ to later figures of the stature of Beethoven, Schubert, Wagner, Strauss, Brahms, the painters Waldmüller and Schwind, the opera singer Schaljapin, writers Mark Twain, Grillparzer and Nestroy, and political personalities such as Karl Lueger and Graf Zeppelin have all appreciated its traditional Viennese cuisine and creature comforts. The framed autographs on the walls of the famous Mark Twain room ensure that their presence lives on here.

 

Oldest Restaurant in Europe??  Possibly if its been operating since 803!

St. Peter Stiftskeller was first documented in the year 803, when it was mentioned by the scholar Alcuin – a follower of Charlemagne – and as such it takes its place as the oldest Restaurant in Europe. When History and Zeitgeist meet, one finds oneself in the best possible company.

St. Peter Stiftskeller – the restaurant, at the very heart of Salzburg old town, is one of those rare places where such an encounter is possible. Today the restaurant includes no less than twelve historic salons, each  with incomparable character and charm, varying  in size from small and intimate to large and lavish.

But St. Peter’s offers more than fine dining. The KULTurig-music Ensemble is maybe Salzburg’s most surprising music formation. The six musicians will delight your ears with skilful contrasts. The balanced sound composed of harp, harmonica, dulcimer, contrabass, guitar and stunning vocals will surely touch your heart. The successful mix blends the traditional with a touch of mysticism à la Austrian folk-pop music legend Hubert von Goisern with a generous pinch of jazz. Enjoy it with a luscious 3-course-menu made from finest Austrian products. Tradition combines stylishly with the modern, music meets with finest culinary art.

However, The Guinness Book of Records' states that the Botin in Madrid, dating from 1725, holds this crown. It is a traditional restaurant offering Mediterranean cuisine. Add a dash of Hemmingway to the cooking pot and you add more mystique! Ernest Hemmingway mentioned the restaurant’s signature dish cochinillo asado (roast suckling pig) in his 1926 novel The Sun Also Rises.

There are many claims to 'the oldes', here is a list that one can visit and debate with fellow history buffs.

We’ll let the culinary historians duke that out.

1. Stiftskeller St. Peter (803) – Salzburg, Austria

2. Zum Franziskaner (1421) – Stockholm, Sweden

3. La Tour d’Argent (1500s) – Paris, France

4. Die Letzte Instanz (1621) – Berlin, Germany

5. A La Petite Chaise (1680) – Paris, France

6. Botín Restaurant (1725) – Madrid, Spain

7. Tavares Rico (1784) – Lisbon, Portugal

8. Rules Restaurant (1798) – London, England

9. Union Oyster House (1826) – Boston, United States

10. Yar Restaurant (1826) – Moscow, Russia

 

Bofinger Brasserie Paris

In 1864, Colmar-native Frédéric Bofinger opened a modest establishment near the Bastille just at the edge of the Marais and Faubourg Saint-Antoine, the preferred neighbourhoods of the many Alsatians who had been employed in woodworking and cabinet-making since the 16th century.

Bofinger was the first Parisian brasserie to offer beer on draught. Served in earthenware pots that customers brought themselves, alongside delicatessen meats and sauerkraut, the beer ranged from 18° to 25° proof. When Prussia annexed Alsace and Lorraine, there was a massive inflow of refugees, which cemented the brasserie's success. One notable guest was cabaret singer Aristide Bruant, who arrived with his own eggs so the chef could prepare for him "the world's most flavourful omelette".

In 1919, Bofinger expanded and underwent an astounding renovation. Tufted bench seats, bevelled mirrors, interplaying lights and paintings...the Belle Epoque décor was resplendent with joie de vivre. The walls proclaimed Art Nouveau and an enchanted, liberated Alsace. It was the place for revelry, laughter and fun in an elegant, colourful party. In the early 1930s when the brasserie underwent another expansion, the illustrator Hansi decorated a room on the first floor and painted the blue sign that hangs outside. The artist took luncheon at the table of Curnonsky, "Prince of the Gourmets".
Arriving from the nearby Lyon and Austerlitz train stations, elected officials from France's radical contingent - led by Edouard Herriot - made Bofinger their canteen. Governments filed through like the courses of a meal.

In the post-war period, Bofinger kept a low profile. The 1970s brought about a Renaissance. From Georges Pompidou to François Mitterrand, the political class once again passed through its revolving door. Painters Arroyo, Chambas, Fromanger and Segui discussed art as a means of social transformation. On 10 May 1981, François Mitterrand reserved the first floor to celebrate his election as France's new president.

The neighbourhood was in fashion. Fashion designers crowded adjacent streets: Jean-Paul Gaultier, Christian Lacroix, Azzedine Alaïa and more. The opening of Opera Bastille saw the arrival of opera singers, including Barbara Hendricks. Woody Allen had his own routine. When he returned to the French stage at Bercy after a long exile in the U.S., Michel Polnareff made his first public outing at Bofinger.

The beer is still on tap. Under the lively cupola of the grand dining room or in the more intimate salons of the first floor, Bofinger always stirs up history.