Breakfast with Katia
Breakfast with Katia is early exhilaration.
“How is your porridge so creamy? It’s vegan?” she says, looking at my indeed creamy vegan porridge and comparing it to her drier bulgur (this meal took place not at the Almhof but in a hip Vienna cafe, and I’m pretty sure but not entirely certain the creaminess was about soy milk). “Let’s order something else,” she says, looking at the menu yet again. Her second sampling included eggs and bacon, artfully prepared.
Katia Schneider is a curious eater, continually expanding her horizons, making every breakfast a multi-mini-course extravaganza. Pry the menu from her hands, and she’ll ask for it back. She looks at what other guests are eating, talks to them about the taste and texture, takes things home with her to mull things over. She wonders what might work at the Almhof, too. Always. It’s about expanding horizons, trying, perfecting, adapting, curating.
In Lech, I couldn’t help but notice that an Almhof breakfast is like a live breakfast with Katia. The buffet spread is an almost painterly cornucopia of color, the variety almost overwhelming, in a good way.
The staff makes sure you know that no, no, this isn’t all, there’s more, and might suggest a poached egg served in a tall martini-like glass and topped with creme fraiche, diced ham and chives, prepared to order and brought to the table like a morning cocktail (eating this from such a glass, with a long spoon, is an early elegance that set the tone for the day). A vitamin-packed mixed green juice (the real breakfast “cocktail”) revs the engines for the slopes. You could keep going for a long time if you wanted to.
A word of advice: Save some room for lunches and dinners.
Besides the hotel’s dining room for resident guests the Almhof provides various opportunities to dine. During the day, for light lunches, Gidi’s Tagesbar or one of the two restaurants, that in the evening offer two different expericences: the opulent “Wunderkammer (der Haluzinogene)” with hearty Austrian and Alpine food, sort of an Austrian “trattoria”, or the more elegant, but still casual Fine Dining “Restaurant im Almhof Schneider”. Both insist on the charm of Alpine simplicity, impeccable and attentive service, and dining fine enough to attract discerning locals alongside guests from the village, again and again.
Almhof’s sommelier Josef Neulinger, awarded as Gault Millau’s “Austrian Sommelier of the Year 2018” has continued to manage a cellar of about 25,000 bottles scouting to select a wide variety of wines that never fail to satisfy, or even surprise.
— Kimberly Bradley