Essebar: Great Local Produce in a Cool Bar

I don’t know what I was expecting in this lovely Alpine village of Pertisau on Lake Achensee. I knew it would be pretty and I love the utter beauty of these small Alpine villages in the Tirol . Pertisau did not disappoint . By the lake and low in the valley with  part of the Alps in the background, it is very picture post card. Lots of lodges very family oriented with skiing in the winter and outdoor activities of hiking , biking,  fishing in the summer.

Most of the hotels and restaurants are run by families and the atmosphere tends to be relaxing with good honest food and good service. This is not high end but nevertheless excellent in what it provides. We have a house up in the mountains near Zell am See and I love the fact that the ski resorts nearby  are not pretentious.  We haven’t been neither Chaneled or Macdonald. Everything is still family owned and rather personal and the food good and hearty.  I live in winter on spaghetti bolognaise in the mountain restaurants  and I think I must have tried Weiner Schnitzel in every restaurant in Saalbach Hinterglemm area!

 The day we arrived at Pertisau we had been up since 4 am to catch the flight from London to Salzburg then go to our home in Lengau to pick the car and drive to Lake Achensee. I was starving and was in the mood for good but simple food. We looked around us but everything seemed either Pizza or pasta or traditional Austrian food. I love Austrian food but it was hot and we wanted something filling but not so heavy.

My heartbeat then discovered Essebar but was unable to reserve . When I asked the concierge in our hotel if she could help , she laughed and said ‘ooh I doubt that we can get you a table.’ But I am eternal optimist and as luck would have it yes there was a table but we had to get there NOW.  Now meant now and as the Sonnenhof hotel which it was in was a good 20 minute walk away and taxis are few and far between .

We hired a golf car from the hotel and drove up the windy roads of the village till we  got to the  hotel.  It really felt as if we were on an adventure particularly on our return in the dark without any lights. The Sonnenhof  is run by  Daniela and Michael Huber who really know how to make their guest feel welcome and special. They could not have been nicer dressed in their traditional Austrian outfits.

The Essebar was nothing like I imagined. In total contrasts to the lodge hotel the restaurant was literally a bar . very contemporary with high tables and stools in a small bright room. Immediately on sitting  Michael came with a tray of freshly caught fish and went through what each was. This was followed with a selection of local cuts of  meat and Michael was really helpful in explaining everything. Produce was local and the bread was simply divine. They put little pots of oil and fresh thyme and I made the mistake of stuffing myself on that! We shared a tuna variation which was beautifully presented and I opted for the local veal served in 2 different ways. I wasn’t wowed by it but Richards  scallop and prawns  and the catch of the day was very very good. This was evident by the predominantly local people eating there.

I enjoyed the dinner. We had promised to give up the table at 8 and had dessert in a reception area. And the bar man suggested some kind of Schnapps  which Richard tells me was excellent but lethal. For me eating out is not just about the food but also the whole ambience and really nothing beats good food in a relaxed atmosphere. This hit all the right spots.



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