hop & go fetch it: europe

Countries are in alphabetical order


Dürnstein - Wachau Region
We sat on the sprawling outdoor terrace, shaded by apple trees. Scott tried the Austrian classic beef dish called Tafelspitz. The server suggested pairing it with Riesling and he was absolutely right. Loibnerhof is also a winery, so he knew what he was talking about. 

Krems an der Donau - Wachau Region
Gasthaus Jell
The restaurant has a hand-photocopied menu but the food is absolutely top-notch and seasonal. Service was excellent and we felt like we were eating the Austrian food that other Austrians enjoy for special occasions not just tourist food. Excellent, imaginative dishes that still felt homey with perfectly-chosen local wines. I will never forget my dessert: hot plum dumpling dusted in buttered bread crumbs and baked just for me.

We actually went to Bärenwirt for dinner twice we loved it that much. You can sit inside the ancient, cozy building or outside on the patio overlooking the Salzach River. The food is Alpine comfort, which might just be the best food there is after you've climbed a big mountain. I discovered the famous Kasnocken: little dumpling-noodles baked in a cast-iron pan with cheese and deep-fried slivers of onion. With a simple side salad and a glass of Grüner Veltliner, it was pure heaven. Fun trivia fact: Bärenwirt has been open since 1663!

Blaue Gans
Another ancient restaurant (since 1350!), but this one is much fancier. We dressed up and sat outside and loved watching people dressed to the nines who were coming and going to the Salzburg Festival nearby. The food was modern-Austrian made with great care with prices that reflected that.

You must stop here to try the original Mozartkugeln. Mozart balls are made of pistachio marzipan, melting nougat and covered in dark chocolate. These are the best in the city ... probably in the world. Some locations in Salzburg have a café and some are just small shops to buy the Mozart balls and other chocolates. You can't get them outside Salzburg.

Franziskischlössl restaurant
We spent a lovely summer afternoon hiking the surprisingly-wild Kapuzinerberg right above Salzburg. (Apparently, chamois still live in the forest there.) Then we came across this little old Baroque castle that was built right into the old city gates of Salzburg. If you go through the castle to the courtyard at the back , you'll find a shaded terrace set up with tables and people quietly sipping wine and nibbling on fresh bread and local jam from the café. This is one of those heavenly spots that feels too good to be true.

m32 at Museum der Moderne
Go for lunch and sit on the patio for a perfect view of Salzburg and its funny little mountains. Try a modern Austrian chilled soup if you're there in summer. Even Scott's gluten-free bun was excellent.

Gastwirtschaft Schilling
We first stopped at Schilling when Scott was wilting mid-afternoon during the heat wave. He had a freshly-squeezed glass of apricot juice and was restored. A couple of days later, we returned for dinner. I had something very Austrian and very delicious: noodles baked with a cheesy sauce with pieces of ham. I'd go back for it. 

Gelateria la Romana
We walked by Gelateria La Romana one evening while we were searching for our dinner restaurant early in the evening. It was already so busy and looked so inviting, so I made a note of it and we came back later for dessert. It was the best gelato we've ever had and tasted even better in their waffle cone with a squirt of melted chocolate on the bottom. I always ordered Baci di Dama a kind of hazelnut-chocolate-nougat because once I tried it, I could never try anything else. In the six days we were in Vienna, we went to Gelateria La Romana four times. If there is dessert in heaven, this might be mine.

Glacis Beisl
A beisl is a kind of homey gastropub. They're all over Vienna, and you really should go to at least one when you visit the city. Glacis was our favourite. We had to sit inside on a hot summer evening because the locals knew better and had already reserved all the outdoor-patio tables. But we enjoyed every bite of Austrian comfort food and excellent wine ... and enjoyed chatting with the American tourists around us.

Mama Lui & Sons
This dim sum was perfect, in a modern way. The flavours were delicate but intense and they were very good about finding gluten-free options for Scott. The servers were friendly and welcoming, and the atmosphere was great. Could I please go back this weekend?

Meierei im Stadtpark
On one sweltering afternoon, we staggered through the city park and into Meierei for a late lunch. We had the most outstanding chilled cucumber soup and glasses of chilled rosé to cool us down. Then we shared the Austrian-Italian-French Alpine cheese flight with nine different cheeses, all carefully labelled. The perfect oasis on a hot day. We returned for dinner on our last evening and had a very good modern-Austrian meal. This is the baby-sister restaurant of Steierereck, which might be the best restaurant in Austria.

We felt so hip and modern-Viennese going to Ülrich. It's an a little stone alley next to a church. One night, a group of Eastern European singers (in costume) ate there and then serenaded all the hipsters. The food was fresh and seemed like Austrian-fusion.

Zum Wohl
Zum Wohl is actually completely gluten-free and lactose-free, but that doesn't mean it's not good. Even I a discerning gluten and dairy eater really enjoyed the buns. And they had lovely, filling salads and crepes, along with traditional beef dishes. It also had a great atmosphere and if you thought it was too early to drink a glass of Grüner Veltliner wine, you could have the juice instead! We liked it so much that we had two lunches here.


Our friends took us here and it was just right. It has a pub atmosphere and pub prices, but the food was certainly better than the standard pub fare. Friendly servers, too. I had a plate of gnocchi that I'm still thinking about . . .

I quickly learned that if I was going to make it from breakfast to lunch time and walk all over Berlin, I'd need a snack to tide me over. Turns out that Backwerk's quarktasche is just right. It doesn't look exciting, but the pastry is flaky and chewy, and the quark is just right. Backwerk is all over Germany, Austria and Switzerland. I often got my quarktasche at the one in the Zoo train station in Berlin.

Berlin - Charlottenburg
Engelbecken Restaurant and Gastwirtshaft
We knew it was a sign when both our server at the Literaturhaus Café and the lovely Luisa recommended Engelbecken. We arrived early for dinner in Germany -- around 7 p.m. -- and it was packed. As a Canadian, I was very polite in my disappointment when the host explained there were no tables until 9:30 p.m. But he must have taken pity on us as we stood on the street corner, hungry and confused, and looking at our map for another restaurant. He beckoned us over and said we could have a table if we promised to leave by 8:30 p.m., when it was reserved by another party. We nodded and said, "Ja, Ja, sicher," -- and we were in. It was wonderful: a delicate salad of wild flowers and green leaves, homemade sausage and a perfect potato.

Berlin - Charlottenburg
Literaturhaus Café
On our first evening in Berlin, we were exhausted from the train travel and walking the long way round to our hotel -- with suitcases! We found the Literaturhaus Café and it was just the thing to revive us, a leafy oasis in Charlottenburg. We sat outside on the patio and ate kohlrabi soup, noodle auflauf, roasted cherry tomatoes, and some kind of delicious beef. It was so good we ended up going back the next night and sitting in the garden.

Berlin - Charlottenburg
Thai Elephant Restaurant
Our server at the Literaturhaus Café recommended this Thai restaurant and it defintely lived up to her praise. Our lunch was fresh and tasty. It was even a bit spicy: a rarity in Germany.

Berlin - Kreuzberg
Café Jacques
Friends of friends sang Café Jacques' praises . . . and they were right. It feels like a tucked-away neighbourhood restaurant . . . that is very popular with the neighbourhood! The outdoor tables were packed when we arrived on a Wednesday night, but we managed to get a spot inside. Their food could loosely be called French-Mediterranean. We had duck with cherry-sherry sauce for dinner and mint-mascarpone mousse on a chocolate mirror for dessert.


Berlin - Kreuzberg
Café Nest
The wonderful Luisa from The Wednesday Chef suggested we meet at Café Nest, so I was prepared to really like this little place. Of course, I did. When I walked in, I thought I had suddenly been transported back to hipster-central: Portland, Oregon. The old wood, the high ceilings, the tiles . . . very hip and comfortable. And like Portland, the hipster servers were friendly -- they even let me drink tap water (which is usually far too much to ask in Germany). My lemon-lavender cake was tender and refreshing on a very hot summer afternoon. I would happily go back to meet a friend or while away the afternoon with a good book.

Berlin - Mitte
Kaffee Mitte
It was after 4 p.m., which meant we were seriously overdue for coffee and cake, when we stumbled upon Kaffee Mitte. We liked the look of the café, and were even more pleased when we realized it was one of the places a friend had recommended in Mitte. My nougat chocolate cake was deep, dark and delicious. The Italian coffee was very good, too. And even though my tea came in a glass (oh, Germany!), it was hot and black.

Brewery zur Mälzmuhle
Cologne is known for its traditional brew houses that serve excellent filling food, have rude staff and use the special dialect from the Cologne area. Even with the surly waiter, we still really enjoyed our lunch.

Café Niederegger
Niederegger makes some of the best marzipan in the world. Their café is old-fashioned and over-priced . . . but we had a great lunch: baked potatoes with sautéed vegetable and chicken. Dessert was, of course, marzipan tea and a slice of marzipan cream cake.

Fontanella Eis Café 
Our hosts say this is the best ice cream place in Osnabrück. I believe it. We love the Amadeus gelato: chocolate with great smears of pistachio.

Lengermann + Trieschmann (L + T) Café
This is a high-quality department store in Osnabrück where I found quite a few nice tops. However, head to the top floor for a great lunch spot with a nice view. I had a giant potato pancake with the silkiest smoked salmon and soft quark cheese with dill scattered over.

Osnabrück - Wallenhorst
Costa Smeralda
When I was a child and had only eaten pizza from Pizza Hut in Canada, my German relatives took me to Costa Smeralda. I was blown away! Needless to say, pizza made by a real Italian is very different than Canadian chain pizza circa 1990. I recently returned to the restaurant with my relatives. I have now eaten a lot of good, thin-crust pizza in Canada . . . but this was still amazing. One of the best pizzas I have ever eaten. Seriously. The other food at the restaurant is also good and our server was exceptionally friendly for being in customer service in Germany.


Paros - Pounta
THEA Restaurant/Wine Club 
This was the best meal we ate in Greece. We sat on the patio, watching the sun set over the water and the island Anti-Paros, and drank good wine and ate dishes that had been recreated from ancient Greek colonial recipes. We would like to return to Paros just to go to this restaurant.

The Netherlands

Café Kadijk
Singapore is a former Dutch colony, and you can see the Singaporean influence in Amsterdam, with restaurants, people and ads for cheap flights. We walked over to this Singaporean restaurant and had a lovely dinner sitting outside, watching people go by. Afterward, we walked over the harbour to see the sights there. A lovely evening.

Restaurant Wink 
One of the best restaurant meals we have ever had. We happened upon Wink as we looked down a side street around 6 p.m. and saw people eating together from big bowls set out in the middle of the table. Turns out that was just staff meal. The chef welcomed us warmly, and went to get us tiny little olives and crusty French bread. We settled in next to the staff with glasses of rosé and relaxed until the restaurant was properly open. After that, she kept bringing us exquisite dishes: imaginative and incredibly tasty. Everything was absolutely perfect. I cannot go back to Amsterdam without visiting Wink again.

Room Service Cafe and Tearoom by Droog
With modern white tables, fresh flowers and a technicolour Rembrandt on the wall, this was a perfect afternoon retreat from the crazy-busyness of downtown Amsterdam. Just a few quiet streets away from the chaos and you can sit and rest as long as you want.

Wilde Zwijnen
We sat outside at Wilde Zwijnen and had the multi-course blind meal. I asked if it might possible to have a croquette as part of my meal because it was our last night in the Netherlands and I hadn't tried one yet. (Croquettes are practically the national food.) Magically, they managed to work croquettes into most courses and I loved them. In fact,  we both loved everything we were served.


Stein, Isle of Skye
Loch Bay Seafood Restaurant
We found the food in many of the restaurants in Portree, the main town on Skye, to be over-priced and mediocre. So, go for a drive! It’s worth navigating the winding, narrow roads to get to this little restaurant, right along the water in Stein. The owners warned us as we came in that they do their fish “simply.” We said, “OK,” and sat down . . . and were blown away. Everything – from the parsley soup to the fish to the dessert – was simply amazing. They are excellent chefs and very friendly. It’s in a gorgeous location and the food tastes gorgeous to match.

see also:
hop & go fetch it: Canada
hop & go fetch it: United States of America