Restaurants that have tickled our
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.|
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.
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.
We’ll let the culinary
historians duke that out.
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.