Spending time with Barbara and Alain, the co-owners of the family run hotel and restaurant Taubenkobel, Austria, one easily becomes completely absorbed by their warmth and palpable veracity.
They talk earnestly about their humble beginnings, close family relationships, about living off the land and the desire to pass on their reverence for what the region of Pannonia has to offer, “without compromise”.
They are everything but pretentious or cliché and they haven’t constructed some infallible business model for the ‘most coveted dining experience’; What they are passing onto their guests is something truly authentic, based on a philosophy of unity and sustainability.
A member of Relais & Châteaux since 2006, Taubenkobel benefits from the association’s highly prestigious reputation as a collection of the world’s finest hoteliers, chefs and restaurateurs, setting the standard for excellence in hospitality. A place amongst this illustrious family brings with it a seal of distinction, and in turn, a host of international guests.
Once the cheapest house in Burgenland, the seventh largest of Austria’s nine states, Taubenkobel now boasts 12 luxurious, unique guest rooms, an exquisite restaurant and the more casual “Greisslerei” next door, beautiful gardens and a small lake, transformed to be used as a natural swimming pool.
Opened 31 years ago by Barbara’s parents Walter and Eveline Eselböck, the place has quite literally grown and developed with the family, each generation bringing a new lease of life into what was simply a one room restaurant and kitchen. You feel how the family has built every stone themselves ever since.
This concept is delicately woven into every aspect of the association – from Alain’s eight o’clock forage for wild herbs to Walter’s well thought out interior design of each individual guest room – they have created an experience that is so personal and geographically specific, one cant help but fall in love with it.
Widely acclaimed amongst culinary opinion makers, the restaurant at Taubenkobel was awarded with two Michelin stars up until the guide in 2009 unfortunately stopped rating in Austria outside Vienna and Salzburg.
Rated 18/20 by Gault and Millau, a very high rating, with the highest possible score of 20 having only ever been given twice in the guide’s fifty years.
Add to this accolade 5* in A la Carte as well as 96 points of 100 in Falstaff – two of the German-speaking countries most respected culinary publications. Latest, Taubenkobel entered San Pellegrino’s list of the world’s best restaurants, currently ranking 89.
As a chef, Alain Weissgerber sees it as his mission to open people’s eyes to the richness of Austrian, and more specifically Pannonian cuisine, and he does this by buying everything that others aren’t.
He works very closely with local farmers, planning out the produce to be grown and farmed for that year, never resorting to importation.
Born in France and a self-taught chef, Alain has been living in Austria for the last 25 years, opening his own restaurant at just 23 years old and earning himself Michelin accolade in the process.
Now, at Taubenkobel, and as the purveyor of Pannonian cuisine, Alain is responsible for turning fish from the nearby muddy lake, white asparagus from near their little house in Croatia and wild garlic brought home by their children into the distinctly delicious taste of Pannonia.
“The taste that I want to convey through my dishes is the real taste, not the industry taste. I want the guests to bite into my food and know that they are dining at Taubenkobel.”, he states.
What Alain Weissgerber creates is very specific and extremely pure. He doesn’t overly complicate dishes with more than 10 ingredients, instead he turns his physical surroundings into a taste that cannot be found anywhere else.
Pannonia – an ancient province in Central-Europe – located over the territory of the present-day eastern Austria, western Hungary, northern Croatia, north-western Serbia, northern Slovenia, western Slovakia and northern Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Taubenkobel is situated 45 minutes South-East of Vienna, very close to Hungary.
Taubenkobel is where the Eselböck-Weissgerber family eat, sleep and work; This is where they have grown up and are bringing their children up; This is not some fancy big city restaurant where you’ll get turned away for not wearing a tie; This is where Converse have previously been a part of the staff uniform and the dishes are served up on locally made clay plates, and it works.
Each element of Taubenkobel complements the other; The image of the lusciously green gardens is intensified by the distinct, warm smell flowing out of the kitchen, whilst the sometimes surprising, yet mouthwatering ingredients take you off on a tour of the local area and into the farms supported by Taubenkobel.
This continuous, harmonious cycle of sustainability, familiar ties and regional perspective is exactly what has always, and continues to, define Taubenkobel as one of the best restaurants in Austria.
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Hungry for more? Have a look Behind the Scenes.
Created in 1984, Taubenkobel hosts not only one of the best culinary addresses but is also a romantic hotel, a grocery store in the middle of a beautiful garden that will seduce you.
“Gourmets and connoisseurs alike make a pilgrimage to the tiny village of Schützen from far distant lands and never regret the effort.”
“Last but not least I can guarantee you, that this restaurant is really worth a trip to probably Austria’s most calm region. They also have wonderful rooms and suites, so what else do you need as a reason to go there?”
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The pride of Austrian gastronomy at The World’s Best Restaurants ceremony in London. From left: Heinz & Birgit Reitbauer (Steirereck – No. 16), Thomas Dorfer & Andrea Dorfer-Bacher (Landhaus Bacher – No. 96) and Barbara Eselböck-Weissgerber & Alain Weissgerber (taubenkobel – No. 89)