Did you know the Dolomites have the highest density of Michelin-starred chefs in Italy? Being an unrepentant foodie, sampling the delights was always on the cards. We had the pleasure of enjoying a five course tasting menu by executive chef Norbert Niederkofler at his three Michelin star Restaurant St. Hubertus.
Restaurants In The Dolomites
Being at the sharp end of a haute cuisine restaurant is a foodie dream come true. And this was no ordinary restaurant. What is one to expect? A high end kitchen, a frenzy of activity, a screaming chef (Gordon Ramsay style)?
The answer: None of the above. There was a buzz of activity, not a frenzy and a distinct air of calm. Whilst we continued to gawp in awe at the skilful chefs meticulously at work, aperitifs were served.
We were all beyond excited when Chef Norbert took time out from the kitchen and joined us for an in depth chat about his work.
He regaled us with tales a from his 20 years as a chef and how he began with a tiny pizzeria in the hotel built up to the which he’s built into the world renowned restaurant it is today.
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His project of ‘Cook the Mountains’ is an incredible achievement, where only locally sourced produce from the Dolomites is used in cuisine. His philosophy of simple local produce is more than evident when you taste the flavoursome dishes made up of a mere three or four ingredients.
Once we’d finished the aperitifs we were ushered to our seats in the main dining room. The elegant space holds twelve tables and reflects its natural alpine environment.
Fresh flowers, antlers and drawings of stags make up the interiors. No surprise when the restaurant is named after the Christian patron saint of hunters.
Each table has a glass bell which holds a raw dough. Before it’s taken away to be baked, the waiter informs us it’s a special sourdough unique to the restaurant with a 15 year old culture. A 15 minute wait later we were tucking into a delicious hot loaf.
Our first course was dew on wild herbs salad from ‘Aspinger’ farm. The dew for this occasion was in the form of a slightly fragranced spray spritzed with a flourish by the waiter.
Course two was a ravioli stuffed with ricotta from El Brite farm with basil pesto, buttermilk and cheese crust. The smooth creamy ricotta was a dream to eat.
The next course by sight would not win any prizes in the looks department. However, this unassuming dish of risotto with mountain tomatoes water was a taste sensation. Never have I tasted such an intense tomato flavour in a dish. From a plate which at first looked bland it was a real surprise. The pescatarians amongst me were treated to a layer of white fish bottarga too. Caviar, in other words.
Due to it’s inventiveness this plate was probably my favourite. Beetroot gnocchi with beer soil and daikon cream. The gnocchi had an almost gelatinous texture. The sweetness of the beetroot against the powerful horseradish, combined with the different textures of the beer crumb and smoothness of the gnocchi was genius.
Now the vegetarian main was something of a low ebb for me. Vegetable tempura with a sweet sticky sauce. Don’t get me wrong the flavours were great, but tempura for me is more of a starter than the grand main.
Mr S faired much better with his Danube salmon and paradeiser, swimming in different varieties of mountain tomatoes.
And the meat dish was a crispy local suckling pig with mustard from Venosta valley.
Moving on from the savory to sweet we transitioned with a pre dessert of ice-cream, fruit compote and toasted almonds.
Naturally there was only ever going be to one dessert that ended this fantastic meal – Tarte tatin. Especially as South Tyrol is the largest apple growing region of Europe. Before serving us our own mini skillets of the most incredible tasting taste tatin the waiter flaunted the dish in its entirely before carving it up.
Finally before they rolled us out and up to our bedrooms we were presented with the magnificent petit fours – cotton candy, lollipops, jelly candy and chocolate cake pralines.
If you want to experience the best mountain cooking St. Hubertus is the place. It was a gastronomic delight and there’s something quite special knowing you are fine dining surrounded by the stunning mighty peaks of the Dolomites. And who knows maybe even you could leave the restaurant looking as stylish as me!
Restaurant St. Hubertus | Strada Micurà De Ru, 20 | San Cassiano in Badia BZ | Italy | Website
Do you have a favourite holiday restaurant? Let me know in the comments box below.
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