If you asked me for a recommendation on where to go for a great dinner, with quality regional food or where to head for brunch with your friends on a Sunday, you probably wouldn’t expect me to tell you to go to the local swimming pool… but I’m going to.
Freischwimmer restaurant is located in the swimming pool in Bregenz and just over a year ago Pascal Hämmerle und Manuel Riesterer took over the helm and have turned this casual cafe into a quality restaurant worthy of making the list. Manuel got in touch with me and invited me to drop in sometime, and I’m very glad I took him up on his invitation.
Their motto is to honour the old and welcome the new, by serving up classic Vorarlberg dishes but in an innovative way. Utilising regional produce and making as much as they can in house is very important to them and when you taste their food you’ll thank them for it.
Working in sport means I have visited many a sports venue all over the world and sampled the food on offer, which let‘s be honest, most of the time is convenience food of poor quality and not particularly healthy. Think chips, sausages and burgers. Therefore taking a look at their menu really excited me and we dropped in for dinner.
Their menu is pretty big and caters for all times of day and all hunger sizes with a “Startblock” menu including items such as soups and salads. Their winter salad will tempt you with artichokes, orange slices, and roasted peppercorns and then add a topping of salmon, steak or chicken if you want. Their salads are also available in the “Zwischensprint” section if you are a little bit hungrier, alongside the classic lumpensalat with cheese from Bregenzerwald. Then for the main event, the “Langstrecke” you can choose between dishes such as their homemade pasta, risotto dishes, and rösti.
What I really liked about their menu is that they have a section where you can pick your protein (choose between three different fish’s or three different steaks) and then build your dish to your liking, with one side, one vegetable choice and a sauce. I had a lime cream sauce to accompany my Zander fillet which was so good. My grilled vegetables still had a bit of bite to them which I love and the herb infused schupfnudeln were so tasty and just the right amount so you didn’t feel like you’ve over done it.
The quality of the food served made me feel like I was indulging even with this healthier option, however this does not mean to say they do not cater for those who are looking for something a bit naughty like a pulled pork burger or Roger tried their corden bleu which was filled with delicious Vorarlberg cheese.
We were also served with warm olive ciabatta bread and a homemade pumpkin mousse to start the night off and just to cover all bases we shared an “Endspurt” of cheesecake.
With a fantastic dinner in the bag we then turned our attention to brunch. Not immediately of course, but a few weeks later and with a few friends in tow we got to experience their wellness brunch (reservations highly recommended). It was a beautiful spring day, and we were lucky enough to have a table by the window overlooking the lake.
Definitely go with an empty stomach and your stretchy pants on, or even better make full use of the facilities and fit in a swim before you go to really build up your appetite as there are so many delicious things to try.
You pay one fee (€18.50*) for food and then all drinks are additional but you can stay the entire day if you want to. Before 1 pm they mainly offer breakfast dishes, but then after 1 pm they bring out the homemade pasta, salads etc. We arrived at about 10.30 am and within half an hour the restaurant was full, yet the buffet was kept well stocked of freshly made delights. We only stayed for the breakfast part, purely because we just could not fit anything else in, but next time we will come a bit later to enjoy the best of both worlds.
They have cheese boards showcasing some of the best Bregenzerwald cheese, meat selections including slow roasted beef as well as fresh smoked salmon and haddock. Their antipasti board won me over with marinated mushrooms and peppers as well a their mini wraps of salmon and cream cheese and devilled eggs. If you are looking for some hot food dig into their scrambled eggs, bacon and sausages, make your own boiled egg or order up your very own fried egg with the kitchen. There are lots of fresh and healthy choices with fresh fruit and salad, or try their selection of smoothies like beetroot and orange.
Treat yourself to a croissant or fresh bread roll topped with their homemade jam (think strawberry and kiwi or mango and orange marmalade) or homemade honey. If you have a sweet tooth you can also finish off with a mini chocolate mousse or pastry or try their freshly made riebl.
As this restaurant is right at the swimming pool and right on the walkway it is great for people watching, but I did have a few pangs of guilt as each runner went by as I was tucking into the lovely fresh bread smothered in homemade jam.
Don’t just take my word for it, drop in and visit Pascal and Manuel for yourself and experience their welcoming and friendly service along with sampling some fantastic food.
*correct at time of publication. Please check with Freischwimmer for current prices.