I had heard countless times that the “best Käsespätzle” in Vorarlberg could be found in Jagdgasthaus Egender in Schönenbach, Bregenzerwald. However, up until a week ago I was unable to substantiate these bold claims. I now have it on very good authority (my own and everyone I was with) that these reports were in fact unbelievably accurate and I am now booking in time to make weekly visits to make up for lost time.
After enjoying a beautiful, yet very soggy, hike around the area on a rainy Friday afternoon, a group of us were well and truly in need of the enticing warmth of Jagdgasthaus Egender and damn good feed. After all of us had commandeered the toilets to change out of our sodden clothing we could finally appreciate our beautiful surroundings.
The guesthouse was renovated in 2014 and it is stunning. From the outside it looks just like a traditional guesthouse, however as soon as you walk in the door you not only see the difference, but you can feel it too. They have kept the traditional style with wood throughout, but the clean lines, light rooms and addition of lots of glass cabinets brings a real modern touch. You are welcomed instantly and the relaxed, family vibe seeps out of every room. You feel like you have been invited to dinner at the family home, rather than paying for dinner at a restaurant.
We grabbed our table and didn’t really need to look at the menu, as we all knew straight away what we would order. Käseknöpfle all round and our stomachs were certainly eagerly awaiting our dinner. When it arrived it was the biggest bowl I have ever seen. They serve enough to feed all of your table in just one bowl, so that you can share it family style, again adding to the ambience, and we couldn’t wait to dig in. We even joked that no one was to leave the table until it was completely empty. Even with our stomachs bulging we kept our word and the bowl was returned to the kitchen with not a morsel of food left.
It was amazing. The onions were beautifully crisp and sweet, and the cheese itself was melt in your mouth.
If for some reason you do not feel like Käseknöpfle (I won’t judge you, I promise), they do have a good range of other traditional dishes on the menu, for example, schnitzel, deer sausages, wild ragout (it was Autumn at the time of our visit) and some hiking classics such as Landjäger and Lumpensalat.
Despite feeling like we all needed to unbutton our trousers just so we could breath, we just couldn’t look past the homemade cakes that they had on offer, and soon we were sharing a couple of pieces of plum cake. It was so worth it.
Owners Verena and Hubert Egender work side by side in the kitchen and yet are still married after 40 years. That is true love.
After our meal Hubert joined us for a schnapps and shared with us a few marriage tips as well as declaring that despite cooking Käseknöpfle for hundreds of people everyday, he still enjoys to eat it at least 2- 3 times a week. That is indeed practicing what you preach and proof that the classics never get old.
Verena also took some time to chat with me about the history of the guesthouse. Her parents had been in charge since 1977 until she took over in 1996. Then, with their children, Verena and Hubert completed the renovation in 2014. Since the beginning Schönebach has been a well-known location for the best Bregenzerwald Käseknöpfle and this is as true today as it ever has been, with this dish making up 70-80% of their food consumption.
Do not just take my word for it, you have to go and try their food yourself, and even make a weekend of it. Spend the days hiking around the area (working off a few of the calories) and then you can enjoy a restful night in one of their beautiful rooms.
They are generally open just before the New Year through to March in Winter, and over Summer from May until the end of October.